Note from Lisa: This is a guest post by my friend and fellow coach who is also a Holistic Nutritionist, Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui of the wonderful website, A Life in Progress. Please read her wise and moving words, and then join Krista and me over on Facebook to comment (my Facebook page is HERE and Krista’s is HERE).
From Fear to Freedom
I spent most of my life afraid. I didn’t know it until I was in my 30s, mind you. Before then I didn’t know how to identify emotions very well; what I was skilled at was numbing. Or running.
I tried to kill myself three times as a teenager. When that failed and I decided I had to find a way to live, my drug and alcohol use increased and I started using sex as yet another way to fill the gaping hole in me and make me feel loved for a few moments. It never worked. Instead, it fed the shame that coiled tightly around me from such a young age, restricting my breath, delightedly whispering lies about my worth.
I made a faith decision as a young adult and gave up drinking, drugs and one-night stands but still had no idea how to face my fears. My binge eating and efforts to perform intensified. Once a mom and wife, there were times I would spill fear-induced rage all over my family. I tried to control my world through constant cleaning and staying up late into the night to craft “perfect” homeschool plans. And when I worked to get my eating under control I tipped into not eating much at all, obsessive exercise, and panic attacks.
I struggled with finishing things I started. I dropped out of high school shortly before grad and ran away to the city. I dropped out of my Bachelor of Education after six years of hard work, the weekend before my final teaching practicum. I would sometimes choose to take a zero on an assignment or exam because that felt less shameful than trying and potentially getting a poor mark. I suffered with horrible anxiety and yet had no name for it. But now I know.
It was fear. Ugly to the core, abusive, all-consuming, binding fear.
When younger, fear told me I was worthless, fat, ugly, undesirable. Never good enough or smart enough despite my great marks. I knew I was never going to amount to anything; I didn’t even have it in me to compete. I felt the pain of the world so intensely, saw the pain in my own family sometimes, and did not know how to bear it. I yearned to quietly slip away.
As an adult I was afraid of my child getting sick, of my loved ones dying, that my husband would leave me. I was afraid that I would never change and become the woman I desperately longed to be. Afraid of letting others see all of me. Afraid that I was not emotionally strong enough to handle one more phone call informing me of a crisis and calling me to brave action.
But slowly I began to heal. The starting point was, strangely, when I experienced one of the greatest losses of my life: when my sweet mama was cut apart and stapled and slowly succumbed to cancer. This grief threatened to rip me apart—it was like all the pain and fear I had buried and tried to outrun for the past 30 years came raging and boiling to the surface. There was no outrunning this one. I had to learn to face it head on. And I did.
These past 14 years I have come far on my journey from fear to freedom.
I have released perfectionism and body shame. I have learned to choose joy, to love and care for myself with compassion, to let go of comparison. I have learned to be more vulnerable and honest and to speak up for what I need. Mostly.
I long for a complete unshackling. A breaking of all the chains that bind.
Because I recognize that fear still operates in my life in a subtler but still persistent way. It tells me that my words will never have the impact I secretly desire, that one of my children will never return and love me and desire relationship like before, that if I tell the whole truth about who I am I will be rejected. Fear sneers that it isn’t enough to say “I don’t know”; that I must always have life and faith completely figured out. Black and white.
Fear enjoins me to act angrily toward others and to rush in decision making so I don’t get left behind or lose out. It urges me to prove myself or push too hard. It steals the joy of far too many moments when I am unable to just rest and be. It causes me to worry about if or when I need another hip replacement; my first experience was horrible and oh, God, I don’t want to go back there.
When my thyroid swings and my weight shifts, fear calls in her trusty ally, shame, and they gang up on me like junior high bullies causing me to want to barricade myself in my home so that I cannot be judged. Fear tells me that I am delusional to think that I can truly craft a gentle, life-giving business, using all my gifts and experiences, without sacrificing my desire and need for quiet and rest and breathing room. That I will never really be enough.
Fear prods me to categorize and label others as a means of self-protection. They are bad. To make decisions based on how someone might hurt me in the future. I want freedom for myself but I don’t want you to have too much freedom because you might run with it too far. Fear wants me to believe that if a storm comes I will fall. I build my emergency fund but hate using it because what if a worse emergency hides in wait just beyond the next bend in the road?
Fear is a liar. She knows my weaknesses and how to expertly exploit them.
But every day I do the work of throwing off chains and everything that binds. Lie after lie. Now I am stronger and better equipped to counter lies with truth. And I invite you to join me. To keep moving forward, crawling if necessary, knees bloodied and battered. Inching our way from fear to freedom. From small and much-afraid to open and generous and joyful.
What does fear tell you? What would your life look and sound and feel like if you broke those chains, if you decided to live an unshackled life of purpose, health, and joy?
Krista is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist & Joyful Living Educator based in Edson, Alberta. Her mission is to help you love and care for yourself well, to live an UNSHACKLED life of purpose, health & JOY. You can read more of her writing and learn how to work with her at alifeinprogress.ca.
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