Fear is a terrible thing. The stories we tell ourselves of what will happen if we do or do not do certain things can spin out of control in our own heads. If we have any imagination our internal stories can cause us too cower in corners refusing to take the steps we know in our hearts are right.
What do I fear?
- Losing everything
- Never working again
- Being alone for the rest of my life
- Never being loved again
- Dying alone
- Not achieving any of my dreams
What am I willing to sacrifice so this doesn’t happen? Apparently everything at least that is how it feels right now, today as I face the nearly untenable return to work in a hostile environment leaving too much unsaid at home. What is it in my personal psyche that will accept what is indefensible under any normal circumstance rather than take risks that are not grounded in facts.
Yes, some of them are grounded in personal historical realities.
Yes, some of them are grounded in societal standards and those translate into well founded fears.
Finally, some are simply my own fears, my own personal insecurities built over years of hearing “not good enough”.
Somewhere, somehow there comes a time when it is important to separate what are unreasonable fears from what is simply the truth about choices we make and why we make them. Is there a part of us that chooses jobs because we think, ‘this is something that makes sense and I can do this; be successful at this.’ Or, as we get older in a market that values youth and beauty do we think, ‘shit thank you Jesus, someone is willing to pay me now if I can only stay under the radar long enough to retire I will be good.’
I wonder about this one, I truly do. After twenty plus years in an industry that is unkind at best to women, one that I have fought hard to succeed in I find myself on the cusp of antiquity. I still love what I do. I badly want off the road, badly want to find a ‘forever’ home that will value hard won knowledge and my years of experience. Truly want to find somewhere to rest myself, on the laurels I have earned through years and 3 million miles in the air. I still have it in me to work hard and contribute to success. I still have it in me to mentor and lead. What I don’t have in me any longer is surviving in hostile environments in silence hoping it will be better tomorrow. I just don’t have that in me, I simply can’t find the strength or wherewithal to hope next week or this week will be better than the last one when I know the same people will be there and nothing has been done to change their bad behavior.
Funny though, when the environment I am leaving is as toxic it is choosing between two rooms one full of Sarin the other full of Rican. Which is worse?
Dying alone seems a better choice, it is simply a matter of telling myself this isn’t the worse that can happen. Never being loved is a silly fiction, I know I am loved it is simply a matter of definitions, love comes as a gift in so many different packages. Being alone, how much worse could it be than it is right now when I am more alone together than I have ever been.
Losing everything, now this is a terrible one. Terrible because I have been here before and I am too old to start over again. Terrible because it is a very real fear, not just one I made up in my over active imagination but one I have lived. Terrible because it truly does scare the hell out of me and causes emotional and intellectual paralysis.
Love is a sometime horrible state of being, we hope beyond all reason what we love and whom we love will be good for us and that in turn we will be good for them. We hope, rightly or wrongly we can fix what is broken in ourselves and that our baggage will match theirs so our travels are along the same roads. We hope we speak the same language, from our hearts and our minds; both are important as we walk along paths no others have tread dragging our histories behind us.
Sometimes we fail. Sometimes, despite all our best intentions we fail miserably. Sometimes there isn’t enough love to fix what is broken inside of us. Compassion, empathy, humor, self-confidence these have to be part of the mix we bring. When we try to force another person into a mold, whether it is an image we have of him or her or of how marriage should work we are doomed before we place our feet firmly on the path. When we have no flexibility in our personal views, in our vision of the world we have doomed ourselves to a very narrow future and we doom our partner to unhappiness if they don’t agree.
What am I willing to sacrifice? Myself? My pride?
What happens when we don’t tell, or worse when we do but the other person doesn listen or doesn’t hear?
I have to answer these questions soon. Choices are terrible things, aren’t they?
I leave you with this from one of my favorite Broadway shows, I think it says what we should all ultimately strive for.