fear of letting go

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Fear has become my close companion.

After speaking with my mentor, I realized how much my fear is holding me back… not only in terms of my career, but in personal matters.

To be frank and straight to the point: love freaks me out. From years of self-work, I know and recognize myself as having a fearful-avoidant attachment style in my relationships–much of that resulting from how I was raised, and the crappy relationships I trekked through in my past. I want to trust and love whole-heartedly, but at the same time, I’m terrified of the process. What if I get hurt? What if something bad happens when I bare myself whole?

Enter potential love interest.

Although these issues have been something I’ve been consistently working on, now I find myself being pushed up against them in a very close and personal way. It was through my best friend’s frank observations that I caught myself throwing up internal barriers and seeking things that fuel my insecurities, all to prove my inner core belief right, that I am not good enough–because then I could check out, run away before I got in too deep. It blows my mind how different I’ve become compared to the person I was when I was younger. I used to readily embrace love, draw romantic dreams in my imagination, and hope unabashedly. Now I find myself being very grounded, jaded, entrenched in reality, struggling to let myself go to the process of falling in love. Even saying those very words freak me out.

I think of all of the men who have hurt me in the past, who took advantage of me, who took my trust and shattered it into thousands of pieces. I think of the jerks I’ve dated, all the arrogant men, and especially those men who saw me as primarily an object, existing only to prop them up, make them feel good, or give them status.

But then the other part of me reminds me, this is a different time, a different place, a different guy. I pride myself on my “bullshit radar,” in calling out fake, bullshitting people fairly quickly–but my radar has been very silent with this person. If anything, this person has proved at each point that he is authentic, genuine, sweet, and trustworthy. All signs point to one direction… which brings me back to my realization. I know deep down what to do, but my fears are holding me back.

On the outside, I can see myself coming off aloof, but the truth is, internally I’m fighting against falling, fighting for control. I’m afraid to show you that I care, that you’re slowly starting to matter more, that you have the potential to become someone significant and in the near future, if you’d let me, I could share with you all of me. I’m afraid if I say these things, you’ll run away. What if you ran away?

But then, what if my fears morphed themselves into self-fulfilling prophecies? What if my fears led me to subconsciously push you away more until you left? What if this is all in my head, and I’m making something good turn into something ugly?

I’m not going to say that I know all of the answers, or that I’ve got it all figured out. If anything, the past few weeks have been humbling for me in a good way, as I acknowledge my limitations and put complete faith in God. But one thing is becoming very clear: I have to face my fears. I have to push them back, reject their power over my life and my choices. They are keeping me from reaching my full potential, from living a happier, more fulfilling life. Even if I end up hurting, I have to relinquish control and let myself go to the process, all the while trusting in God that He is guiding me where I need to be. Regardless of how it turns out, it will turn out for the good some way, somehow–whether it is to flourish the connection, or to challenge/grow me in a new way. Or even better, both.

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on feminism

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I get intensely annoyed when people assume that feminism is just a political movement, or something only for social justice activists. On top of all of the other negative stereotypes of feminists (“man-hater,” “a bunch of dykes,” the list goes on). Feminism is not about hating men; it is about the simple belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. That’s it. If you support that, then guess what? You’re a feminist.

I wasn’t always a feminist. I was shrouded in my ignorance of the inequalities and injustices and wasn’t sure “what the big deal was about.” Ignorance is sweet because we don’t have to attend to the immense pain many people hold in society. We can pretend everything is good and perfect and float away in bliss. But ignorance is also very damaging, because it is through our ignorance we unknowingly hurt and oppress others. When we invalidate someone’s pain or experiences, we invalidate their humanity.

My eyes opened when I was 24. I was sexually assaulted, and in my attempts to make sense of what happened to me, my close friend pointed the direction toward truth. “This is the reality of many, many women. But it’s not your fault.” I cannot emphasize enough how much I needed to hear that. Because I, just like many women, began to blame myself for what happened, that I should’ve been more careful, that I should’ve known better, as if I could be a fucking seer and see into the future. But after my conversations with my friend, I realized that I was beating myself up in that way because I had come to internalize all of the negative and oppressive beliefs we spout in society. Blaming women in every single way that we can think of for the violence that was pushed onto them. What was she wearing? How was she acting? Was she drinking? It’s as if I punched you in the face, and I and everyone around you blamed you for not ducking, or for not knowing better. It’s your fault for wearing that stupid t-shirt that made me angry, that’s why I punched you. Illogical, yes?

Yet people often fall to illogical arguments and beliefs in an attempt to resist change and resolve their cognitive dissonance.

People will also fight like hell to avoid taking responsibility and owning their shit. I see this all the time as a therapist. Thing is, we all have shit. There’s nothing wrong with having shit. But I would argue that it becomes “wrong” when you stop owning it and start pushing it on everyone else. I could go on about defense mechanisms and the psychoanalytic aspect of this, but that’s for a different post. My point in this post is, feminism is more than “a bunch of angry women.” Rather, it’s the acknowledgment of the deep pain in our society resulting from the denial of not only equal rights and opportunities, but of one’s humanity. Not only with gender, but with race, sexual orientation, and religion.

Even still, people have every right to feel angry. Because our current reality is, we live in fear every day. We have to be alert, yet we are criticized for it and told we’re over-reacting. But when we do experience violence, “well you should’ve been more careful.” Reality is, we live in constant Catch-22s. We are constantly treated by people, whether consciously or subconsciously, as less than and without respect. Our less pay for the same work is only a manifestation of this. You would have to be a robot to not be angry. To feel. You have every right to feel.

If you can’t see the issues here, or you never experienced them… well, your view is immaterial. Because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not true. No one needs your narcissistic perspective on this. This is reality for millions of people. Just because you never had to experience injustice does not mean injustice doesn’t exist. Not everyone is like you, or lives with the privileges you have. There’s a lot of shit in this world that people have to carry, and you’ve been fortunate to not have some of it. But don’t you fucking dare come in and say all the weight breaking my back doesn’t exist. At that point, I will respectfully tell you to fuck off.

On a personal level, my being a feminist is my physically, emotionally and spiritually owning my humanity. It’s my act in taking back the individuality that society has, and continues to, steal away from me. This is my striving toward empowerment. There’s more to me than my body or pretty skin and face. I have a spirit. I have a soul. I am human. No matter how much others may try to deny that, this is fact. This is truth.

I am human. And I have every right to feel, to be, to love, to exist. Feminism isn’t just a movement. It’s our empowerment, our dream, our reality, our lives.

facing the unconsious

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The fear inside me grows heavier and heavier. All the darkness and pain scare me, yet I have no idea why. It’s as if I am staring into the eyes of a monster, but I can barely make out its face. It resides in the deep recesses of my unconscious, and my startling inability to discern its name, appearance or nature leaves me without any words. All I know if that when I sense its presence, I am overcome by a deep need to abort. I run the other direction.

And here, is where my insight falls short, my awareness runs out, my tendency to shift toward positivity breaks down. Nothing works. I am up against an enemy that I do not know.

Freud argues that our unconscious is composed of unrealized, and often socially unacceptable, desires and wishes, along with traumas and painful memories that our mind has worked to repress. Most of us are only aware of things existing on the conscious plane, unless our developed defenses are challenged and/or we work to build our self-awareness of the ways our unconscious leaks out in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Considering this, my current situation is pushing me up strongly against my normal defenses. I am sitting in the in-between, within the tension of what I want to do, and what is best for me. I am at the brink of self-sabotaging, and I know it, but the other, darker part of me is fighting for control, pushing me to run. Run from what? What truly scares me is my inability to answer that simple question. I don’t know. But here I am, pushing, running, numbing, kicking and scratching, anything to keep me from falling in too deep, from being captured and seen. If I move enough, never stay in one place for too long, I’ll somehow be safe. There is safety in my evasions. And this is why I cannot settle. There is something in the water that will get me if I do.

Nothing makes much sense, because logic and intellect sink like swords in quicksand when you are up against the creatures of your unconscious. There’s a reason why we are running away and repressing them in the first place.

There is one thing I do know for sure. In order to get to the healthier, better place, we have to venture through the thick of the unknown forest. We have to rise up to our monsters, our demons, and make the choice to push up against them. If we run, they win. If we repress, they’ll continue to control us in our ignorance. It’s so much easier to run… but by running, we are choosing to live in bondage. This is uncharted territory, and this is the difficult call: to trust, and to have faith. Trusting in God, trusting in yourself, trusting in the fact that despite the arduous nature of the journey, if you keep trekking, you will make it out of the forest. You will overcome someday. The call is for you to submit yourself to the unknown, and have faith that through all the dark and pain, you are reaching a better place, coming closer to a healing you so desperately need… closer to becoming a better you. The more you challenge and push up against yourself, the clearer your inner self becomes. The more control you end up gaining.

The journey, therefore, calls upon courage. Courage is not a personality trait, as some may believe it to be, but an act that anyone can do. It’s about making a choice. Despite fear, I will press forward. I will enter the tension and allow myself to be moved. Here we stand at the precipice, faced with our choice: to jump, or not to jump? That certainly is the question.