Fears

April 02, 2003

In this time of fear I find that I am struggling with a host of my own personal fears. So much of our lifetime is subject to events beyond our control that it is only natural that we individually develop a set of fears that try to interfere with our daily existence.

Mine center around loss of loved ones. My sister died when she was 11 and I was 12. My mother says that once upon a time I told her I was going to marry Amy when I got older, because I liked her best. The loss of my sister at such an early age drastically changed my view of the world. My twelve-year old understanding of the world included the idea that loving someone meant you would lose them. My adult understanding of the world knows this isn't true, but buried inside me is that emotional memory and at times it resurfaces.

Ever since her death 30 years ago I have fantasized about what it would be like to lose someone else that close to me. When I was still a teenager these fantasies often had me losing the rest of my family to some calamity. I understand now that by imagining their deaths I was distancing myself from the potential hurt losing them would bring. Only by emotionally walling myself off could I face the eventuality of losing my mother, father or brother.

I am fortunate to be in love with a wonderful, beautiful woman; who honors me by sharing her life with mine. I have never felt closer to someone, or more loved. My life is so rich and full thanks to the relationship Michele and I have struggled to build; consequently, the thought of losing her is my greatest fear. At different times this fear takes different forms: sometimes death separates us, other times it is an emotional or spiritual separation. When I am feeling very out of control I inwardly worry that I am going to lose Michele to illness and death.

Michele has a wonderful paradigm for understanding how we process our current situation (physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual) and formulate a response based on our life experience. Some of these responses are from childhood events that were never fully expressed. These places of emotional recognition are rooted in time and can cause us to react in ways that are seemingly childish or out of context with the current situation. Using this model, and my current fears, I can determine my emotional age. When I am afraid of losing her to death or illness I know that I am responding with a rather young emotional age. I know that this really means I have some unexpressed fear that I am not helping myself through.

With all the media coverage of the war in Iraq, the mystery illness in Asia, the spiraling budget deficit, the loss of personal freedoms, hijackings, and terrorism is it any wonder that I am fearful? As an adult I can understand the distance between these events and me personally. I am able to function and continue with my life. A child would not be expected to deal with all of these events. I know that I haven't been taking enough time for me lately, to stop and listen to the fears of my inner self because I am increasingly worried that some major disaster is lurking just ahead. My sense of being overwhelmed by all that is going on in the world and in my life is bringing reactions from a much younger Mark. In and of themselves these reactions aren't wrong, but they are telling me that I need to step back from the world for a moment and focus on me.

I need to find that place of peace and security within me where my adult can comfort my younger self. I need to express those childish fears so that the way to a more balanced emotional, spiritual, and intellectual response will be open once again.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.