Fear: The paralysis of progress

About two years ago to the day I thought I’d lost my mind. Lost everything to be honest. Life was looking pretty bleak, I was drinking way too much, had quit my job, just broke up with my ex-fiancé and really wanted to throw in the towel. After we broke up I had no where to stay and my grandparents are snow birds so luckily they let me crash at their house temporarily. I remember being drunk as a skunk, nearly passed out with a near empty bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a cigarette in the other contemplating suicide and said out loud while hysterically laughing, “You don’t need to kill yourself, you’re already doing it,” and then my laugher turned to tears. I was a man with a death wish but apparently lacked a genie in a bottle as my wish didn’t come true. Yesterday I was actually thinking of my ex and couldn’t remember her last name. It took a good minute or two before it came to me. Gave me a good laugh, how could I forget the last name of the woman I was supposed to marry? I guess I’m glad I didn’t. But it’s amazing what two years can do to a person. A little sobriety, a little clarity, a lot of growing up, a little more responsibility, and a lot of introspection can make a pretty big difference in ones life, or at least in mine. I’m certainly not where I want to be but I’m getting there and getting closer everyday. I’m not proud of my past but proud of my progress and realize that life is a journey. I know I hurt a lot of people in the process and for that I feel regret, shame and remorse but I know most have offered their forgiveness if not all and for that I am thankful.  In return I have done the same for myself which is a great feeling. Gives me the ability to keep moving forward instead of being continually stuck in the past. Fear kept me from doing a lot of things in my life that I wanted to do. That’s sort of what I’ve concluded over the past two years. Fear is a powerful killer of progression. It serves to help self-preservation, if you don’t take chances, if you don’t grow, if you don’t take those big risks, if you live in fear you won’t get hurt. It’s actually in our nature. It’s what stops us from touching fire, from jumping off of things we know are too high or swimming in waters full of sharks. Over time however, we’ve evolved and our types of fear has changed. Now we can take calculated risks, safe risks, emotional, mental or financial risks. No sharks, no alligators, no snakes or bears or lions but oh and how it hurts when you stand up to fear and get knocked to the ground. Devastating blows to the ego, to the pocketbook and sometimes even your heart. If you get hit hard enough in the head you get a concussion, when you stand up to fear and fail, I’d say it’s the equivalent to your motivation, to your heart, to your soul. But it doesn’t last forever. You can recover, stand back up and lick your wounds and ask for another and another until eventually you realize that fear is simply a calculated risk that you have to take in life and it’s always going to be there. It’s just how much you’ll let it control you. Well, at least that’s where I hope to be eventually. Ironically, snakes, alligators, sharks, tornados and going 120 mph on a motorcycle don’t scare me but living a normal life does. Im afraid of this current semester at UCF for example. I’m taking some of the most difficult courses I’ll have to take to get my degree and fear can cause paralysis even when you know what you have to do. It’s too difficult so I might as well not try, then the assignments are almost due and I’ll cram at the last minute and wonder why I didn’t get an A. Amazing how that works…Maybe I need that adrenaline rush to push through it, make that deadline, maybe waiting until the last minute is facing my sharks and snakes and alligators (by the way I grew up and live in Florida and that’s probably why and don’t judge me. lol) My dad’s blood work recently came back pretty out of whack so his oncologist is contacting Moffitt in Tampa requesting they take a look at it because apparently he feels it’s “above his pay grade.” And there you have it. Just like that, on the second day of the semester which was already going to be challenging, shit just got that much more real, that much more intense. Fear rears it’s ugly head and decides it’s going to force me to make a choice. Do I drop the classes while I can without penalty because of the possible outcome of this blood work? It could be serious and cause me to devote an incredible amount of time to helping my dad during this phase of this stage of his life if they do a stem cell transplant or a new more intense chemo. Or, it could just be a fluke, nothing at all and life would go on as usual. I would regret dropping the classes and put off graduating that much longer and lose the financial aid that I need so desperately need each semester to help pay my bills so that I don’t have to depend on my dad financially. Well, it’s ironic that just the other day my dad and I had that falling out about having to live our own lives and him needing to do a lot of this on his own. If things do get difficult I might have to just grin and bear it, buckle down and continue my studies even if he’s in a bad spot. I know it’s what he would want me to do. I could still help when I can, it’s not like these two classes are going to take up all of my time but the emotional and mental toll still have a major effect on me either way. As a caregiver, these are the types of situations we run into. These are the tough decisions we have to make. Two years of progress, two years of facing some of my biggest fears, getting knocked down, getting back up, and a single phone call made me feel as if I was back where I was two years ago. Alone, afraid, confused and lost. Bottom line is I can’t drop these classes. Bottom line is that if something does go wrong I’ll need to go to my professors and/or academic advisors and beg and plead for more time on assignments if it comes to it. Bottom line is I’m not or cannot allow fear to continue to dictate my life again. Fear is a disease and the only cure is to not allow it to come back once you’ve made progress in it’s defeat. If I am wrong, if my calculated risk was ultimately the wrong equation then it will be a tough blow, it will hurt but right now in this very moment it is the right thing to do and the alternative is to do nothing and fail and let fear win or drop the classes. Both of those alternatives are really not an option. Not for me, not again, not anymore, not after what I’ve accomplished, not after what I’ve been through, not after what I’ve done and not after what I know my dad wants for me.

This is the part where I begin to ramble and start losing readers because my blog is too long so I’ll leave it at that.

Remember, you are never alone.

C. Brooks

3 thoughts on “Fear: The paralysis of progress

  1. Alicia

    Fear is a lot of what has stopped me in the past, too. a few years ago, a therapist asked me, “Do you really want to get well?” My immediate and rather indignant response was, “Of course I do! Why would you think otherwise?” She challenged me to stop, and really consider her question, not just give the answer everyone expected me to give. When I did stop and think, I came to a startling conclusion. while most of me wanted to get better, some of me wasn’t so sure. If I got better, people would expect more of me. I wouldn’t have that ready excuse for not getting classwork done, not keeping jobs, not fulfilling obligations of various kinds. If I got well, I wouldn’t get the understanding I seemed to get from people. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to meet the bar when it got raised, so maybe it was better to stay where I was. I couldn’t believe myself for thinking that, but it was by recognizing that fear that I was able to start to overcome it. Twice I have started to go back for my Master’s degree, twice I failed because of mental health issues. I was afraid to try again, even though I finally got my shit together. Just when I was starting to apply places, this cancer thing with my husband came down. I resent the hell out of it for stopping me just when I was ready to start making progress in my education again. I respect you for taking on both school and caregiving. I’m not sure I’d be able to do that yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alicia, I’m sure I’ll have my bumps in the road as well. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring so I’m just gonna focus on today. Life’s a journey ya know? I think it’s totally normal for us to have resentments as caregivers now and then. We just have to keep working through them as best we can. I’m glad I’m not at my Master’s Degree yet, I’m not sure I could even keep up with what I’m going through right now. Part time is tough enough as it is!

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