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Silencing Fear | Psychology Today

On Sunday, April 10, 2016, I turned to Tony halfway through our hippie church service and whispered, “hey, wanna get married here next week?” He sure did. And why not? He was about to start a new job, we were selling two houses and buying a third, and I was prepping for my TEDx Talk, plus I had Rewrite Your Life out on submission, and so why the heck not UPROOT EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE?

Source: Cindy Kay Photography, used with permission

A week later, on Sunday, April 17, we swapped vows in front of 70 of our closest friends and family (and yes, that is some legally- and religiously- sanctioned behind-grabbery you’re seeing; squeeze it like you own it, amirite?). Our getting hitched went off without a hitch. Almost all our important people made it, and the weather was gorgeous. Our scrappy and crazy-talented photographer friend, Cindy Kay, took photos. Christine shared stories and a poem that had the entire church in laughter then in tears. Kellie sang At Last so powerfully, so intimately, that Tony and I held each other and cried. Tony’s sisters read the Apache Wedding Blessing and personalized it with a perfectly-delivered The Princess Bride reference, my mom worked her kitchen magic on a mountain of tender, perfectly-seasoned pulled pork and a dozen different desserts, and everyone brought sides and flowers and wine even though we said no gifts.

Voila! A wedding in a week.

Afterward, Tony suggested I write a book so others can plan their own weddings on the cheap (money- and time-wise). I joked it’d be more like a pamphlet, but you know what? It’s a sentence: Find the person who makes you feel safe, adored, and loved, the person who doubles down when the going gets tough, makes you laugh, and is committed to a lifetime of evolution, add amazing family and friends, get lucky on the weather, and celebrate the good like your life depends on it.

Hmm. I might have stumbled onto the recipe for LIFE.

Which is funny because you know what? A big hairy part of me was sure I’d never get married again, even as I said yes to Tony’s proposal in December 2016. I’d experienced a ©dramatic shitstorm the only other time I’d tried it, and the thought of inviting that depth of pain into my life, my kids’ life, fired up my lizard brain. My lizard brain always brings the fear wrapped in a deceptively reasonable package, you know? So convincing.

Here’s the deal, though. Fear is an amazingly helpful emotion when our physical safety depends on it–when we are walking alone at night, or when we’re choosing whether or not to wear a seatbelt or to eat pufferfish. But outside of protecting our bodies, fear is USELESS. Worse than useless. It’s a joy-thief.  When not needed for physical survival, fear is a parasitic emotional squatter that looks like the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  (warning: link NSFW).

Fear might be the loudest and the strongest of emotions, but since when has that been a good criteria of who you want to spend the night with?

Laying all that out spurred me to develop a new rule: if it’s not about protecting my body, I’m not going to listen to fear. You know how I know this is one of the life lessons I’m supposed to learn? Because the second I adopted that rule, Life gave me all sorts of opportunities to practice. Take Rewrite Your Life, the first nonfiction book I’ve written, which was out on submission the spring of 2016. It is the book that explains how I took the facts of my life–the shame-filled, the fearful, the funny–and turned them into fiction, transforming myself in the process. My personal experience is woven with neat and sweet instructions for anyone else who would like to reprocess their pains and pleasures and “you’ll never believe what happened to me”s into compelling fiction.

I’m proud of that book, really proud. So why was I listening to the fear that was whispering (and it’s the hot, meat-scented whisper of that guy you never should have gone on a date with because now he’s talking through the whole movie) that this book wouldn’t find a publisher? Why was I accepting, even in my head, that conservatively-wrapped fear gift known as back-up planning (if/when the book doesn’t find a publisher, I can always self-publish, and…)? Why was I hedging my hopes and my bets and generally living small, and calling it common sense?

I’ve got another book out on submission at this very moment. It’s called The Devil in the Dirt Basement, and it’s the most autobiographical novel I’ve ever written. My lizard brain wants to whisper the same fearful doubts into my ear, over and over again, until they almost become soothing. Don’t get hopeful and you won’t be disappointed. Maybe it’s not meant to be. Get ready for the rejections.

Dangit, NO.

I am tuning out fear, even if I need to tune it out again 30 seconds later. OK, 10 seconds. But practice makes perfect, right? It’s time to clear room for joy in my heart and abundance in my brain. They’re the ones I want to spend the day with. I’m done borrowing trouble. (But I’ll take cake if you have some.)

Big love to you!

p.s. It’s been two years, and marrying Tony is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Typing that

Shutterstock image.

Source: Shutterstock image.

makes my eyes get all hot, which is the equivalent of full-on happy sobbing for all you non-Midwestern-of-German-descent people out there. The marriage hasn’t changed our relationship in any perceptible way, but it has filled in all these cracks that I hadn’t known were there. I now have this amazing, solid foundation which makes everything else seem possible.

Cheers to silencing fear.


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