The following post is brought to us by guest contributor, Sarah Ivy. Follow her blog, Searching for Sarah, here.
Those of us in recovery know a thing or two about facing our fears. However, we sometimes allow our fears to control us even as we work to recover.
The thing about fear is that it paralyzes. We stay in bad situations. We settle for crummy jobs. We allow others to walk all over us. We worry more about what others think about us than what is truly good for us. We look up and see our lives slipping away from us.
Before we know it, fear dominates our lives. It dictates our decisions, relationships, work, spending habits, etc. Fear isolates us from the people we love and the life we want to live. Fear even distorts the way we think about ourselves. We eat, sleep, and dream fear.
How does one begin to conquer their fears? I don’t have the answer. I wish there was a formula. I can, however, share how I began to fight my fears. Backstory: I hit a really dark place in life and got stuck. (This did not happen over night, it took awhile to get as lost as I felt I was). I became very depressed. I felt there were only two solutions: Die or get well. I am grateful every day that I chose to get well, though it has not been a cake-walk.
I started to face my fears by working the first step: I recognized and admitted that my life had become unmanageable. I knew that I was powerless over the fears that had controlled me. Then–and this was not easy–I asked for help: I asked my friends, my co-workers, my family, and a counselor for help. I had to swallow my pride and learn to draw on the strength of others to get me through the mess.
Next, I accepted that my fears were much bigger than me. I began to understand that GOD is the only force out there that can take my fear and turn it into joy. This was by no means an overnight process. It was not fun. It was painful and at times nearly unbearable. I have to fight regression every day. It is so much easier to go back to an earlier state of coping than to actually face and conquer my fears. GOD has been patient with me so far. After I decided GOD could help me face and overcome my fears I asked Him to be with me and strengthen me for this journey.
After asking GOD for His help, I asked myself, “What is my fear?” What I found was a lot of pain, hurt, distorted thinking, and unpleasant things that my brain hid away rather than faced. So I pulled all of that out and examined it using both my head and my heart. What I saw was that my brain knew what was up but my heart didn’t. I had to FEEL the pain and fear. I had to feel those things with my heart. I did this by setting aside time each day to work through this plethora of junk that had accumulated and grieve for the first time in my life. I grieved over my painful childhood and the chaos I made out of my life. I kept a journal. I used positive affirmations. I prayed. I read out of the Big Book and from the Bible. I opened myself up to the love and hope that GOD is. I asked GOD to take my fears as I isolated them and began to understand that they were largely irrational.
I reached out to others when I needed support and help. I made an effort to make some new friends. I realized my head can be too dark and ugly a place to walk alone in, so I work to maintain friendships with some amazing people. I had a teacher tell me once that everyone needs a “herd of buffalos,” a group of friends that love me and will protect me when I am weak simply because I am me. I don’t have to explore my head alone anymore and knowing I am not alone comforts me. This whole experience has been cathartic for me. Some days are still tough, but I can honestly tell you that I feel free for the first time in… well…ever.
This is a process I am still very much immersed in.
I encourage you to ask yourself what your fears are. Ask for help. Pray. And know that you are a valuable treasure. You are worthy. I know this because GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK. Peace be with you.