Home > Uncategorized > How Freedom from Fear Changed My Life

How Freedom from Fear Changed My Life

part 1

part 2

part 3

Two months after the breakup, I was 15 pounds heavier, exhausted, and living a quiet existence since I wasn’t working at the time. The shock of the loss had taken its toll physically; in two months I’d grown some gray hairs, my skin texture changed, and, inexplicably, I just looked older in general.

But internally, I was feeling better and more clear-headed than I’d ever felt two months after a breakup. I’d done everything I needed to: I focused on myself, I was self-affirming and free from the usual self-deprecation that threatened to grip me. I was probably more confident and self-assured than I was before the relationship itself. But something still wasn’t right; it seems I had one more corner to turn.

I kept going back to accountability. Yes, at this point I knew nothing was fundamentally wrong with me; I’d gotten it into my head that I didn’t deserve poor treatment or to be deserted. So why was I with someone who had the capacity to do that? How is it that I was with someone who didn’t understand what I was worth? And what had been the undercurrent of our relationship that someone could just disappear like that?

These questions made me incredibly uncomfortable; admitting that I might have even the slightest bit of responsibility for the pain I was in was so upsetting to me. But I faced it, and the results were kind of illuminating. Like so many things, the answer was something I hadn’t wanted to admit.

I was afraid! I was afraid of everything. As a single person, I was confident & successful. But in this relationship, I was always terrified. I was always afraid he’d leave (but just aware enough not to show it very much, which caused its own kind of stress). Every morning, I woke up thinking he would get up and leave at any moment, and might even have burst into tears the few times he failed to return a call or email. I tried carefully never to act as though I wanted too much of a commitment, and despite my feelings, never told him I loved him (for fear of scaring him) until it was way too late.

My answer to all of this was to acknowledge the fear, and figure out where it came from. I knew my crazy reactions to his behavior came from somewhere, but couldn’t figure it out until I read something about fear of abandonment.

Without recounting my pages & pages of journal writing, I figured this out pretty quickly. Some online resources suggest years and years of therapy, but I swear, I was changed in an instant. My crazy reactions, my vague sense of dread, everything was explained by this new knowledge–or rather, this new way to frame what I already knew.

I began kicking away fears right and left. Fears about co-workers, fears about friends, fears about family and weight and other things I can’t control… they all melted away.

As for my fear of abandonment, I knew two things: once you unabandon yourself, people are free to come and go in your life as they please (I can’t remember where I found this quote) and that the best way to deal with fear was to face it head on. Armed with these two ideas as my lifelines, I moved forward, prepared to live and think differently.

And I did.

A few weeks after my little epiphany, I reacted to everyone in a different way, and was repaid for it by the new terms created in all my relationships. People at work treated me more respectfully, I started making friends and attracting different people than before. Even my hairdresser stopped calling to make last-minute appointment changes. & taking advantage of my time. Everything improved, and I felt so much better.

About this time, I started paying attention to this guy in my summer class. I’d taken a class during the summer after the breakup, so I wouldn’t have to sit quietly at home with the loss for three hot, workless months. This guy had started suggesting we go to art museums and such, and I blew him off. But I realized all I was doing was being afraid, and once I removed that I thought, “hey, maybe this guy could be o.k.” So I went out with him.

The relationship, of course, was completely different from any I’d had before. Not only was he a completely different guy, but I was completely different. Sure, there were (and are) still some times when I feel afraid. And the first time he didn’t return an email right away, I felt the familiar overblown anger & fear, and was able to let go of it. I knew that I could never again depend on someone else to calm my fears, and I’d remind myself of that when I needed to. And of course, the irony there is that he always returns my calls. Actually, he always calls — I never have to be the one to initiate that.

I think I was always ready to let go of this fear, but this seemed like the last step that unlocked things for me. So one year later, I can’t help but see how far I’ve come, how I’ve changed as a person, and yes, look down at the shiny ring that symbolizes what’s to come.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 26, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    As the old saying goes… “been there, done that”. The need to please/fear of abandonment can create such havoc on our life and even our soul. Finding your way out of that can be difficult…you did it! Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. It’s been nice reading your blog. You are a woman of great strength and insight.

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