FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real or F@%k Everything And Run

I got called a “love pussy” the other day. I’ll admit that I had to ask for clarification as to what exactly that meant. The explanation I was given was, “you’re a pussy when every thing is perfect.” I was still a little confused. Sometimes I can be a little dense. She broke it down for me a little more, “you get scared.” Viola! I got it. Sadly, it is true. I can rush into a burning building, and have as a matter of fact, with minimal fear, but when everything seems to be moving along at an even keel and everything is good, I freak out!

I could probably go into about a million different reasons as to why I constantly expect the worst or how and by what life experiences I have been conditioned to do so. I think that they are valid reasons, but what I find most interesting and problematic is what goes on in my head on a regular basis, whether that other shoe is going to drop or not.  Sometimes these thoughts cause a lot more damage than if the shoe had actually fallen.

My mind can be an absolute torture chamber sometimes. I am not positive, but my guess is that it has always been this way. As a child, I was a constant worrier, terrified of everything. I remember having panic attacks during Desert Storm, just from watching the news. I would write letters to George Bush, imploring him to think about the ramifications of war. Hey, on the bright side, I was am activist! I was constantly working myself up into such a state that hyperventilation was a regular occurrence. I spent my fair share of time breathing into paper bags or with my head between my knees trying to gulp in air. It was a serious problem. I don’t think that my mom had any idea what to do with me.

Fast forward twenty-something years and you have a (kind of) grown woman who has learned to grit her teeth and face her fears, for the most part. I have learned over time, that if I just meet things head on, then the amount of agonizing is substantially less than if I hide from them. I know that it will have to be dealt with one way or another, so I might as well get it over with now. My threshold for discomfort is much lower than it once was. Thank God.

I am still scared or frightened by a lot of things, some real but most are imagined these days.  The fears are no longer paralyzing as they once were, but are just as disruptive. When I was a child, I would wake up from a bad dream and not be able to move. It would take what felt like minutes for me to gather the courage to scream for my mom. Those seconds after the scream before she answered are still burned into my mind as some of the most terrifying moments of my life. I do not know what exactly I was afraid of, but afraid I was. Now I just spin around inside my head until I have no idea what is true and what is false.

Today what I am left with is this mind that is an accomplished terrorist. It likes to scare the hell out of me! My mind looks for anything and everything with which it can unsettle me.  It looks for anything that it can grasp onto that could in one way or another be considered even remotely problematic.  It can locate and hone in on even the smallest negative and blow it completely out of proportion until it is the only thing that I can see, and then use it to terrorize me unceasingly until I am a basket case.

Over the last couple of years, I have been working to change these kinds of thought patterns. I am not sure how they were created in the first place, but they certainly do not serve me any longer. I have made progress, but there are days when I cannot get out of the loop. A day like last Friday happens and I am reminded that I have much more work to do.

It was a day just like any other, nothing much was going on and yet I was in complete fight or flight mode, as close to melting down as I get these days. Everything was/is going very well in my life, school is good, my internship is going well, my finances are stable. Hell, I am even making a dent in my minimal credit card debt, and there is this man who gives me butterflies. Everything sounds pretty great, right? Everything in reality is! It’s the imagined problems that are troublesome.

A friend of mine says that I like to collect evidence. It is completely true. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if I collected only good evidence, or even any! That is not what I do though. If out of 300 things that happen in a given day, only three are bad, then those three will be the only ones that I will see and they will become larger than life. My mind only collects the evidence that proves my own misguided belief that I am not good enough. This is a belief system that has been very hard for me to disassemble. I keep chipping away at it, but it is pretty damn entrenched in me.

There was about eight years of my life where I lived in full on self-destruct mode. That time has given me plenty of evidence that proves these negative beliefs that I have about myself. There is almost as much time since that show me that I am a different person, yet somehow the good cannot outweigh the bad in my mind. My mind is a tricky adversary. The “you’ve done it again, why can’t you do better, you’re so selfish, he doesn’t really like you, you are making things up” thoughts are challenging to see around sometimes. And once I buy into just one of them, the downward spiral is quick and awful.

Luckily I have amazing women (and men) in my life, who I trust enough to share ALL of my crazy with. They don’t judge me too harshly and often laugh and remind me that I am, indeed, crazy when I cannot see the good, the truth, that is obvious to everyone but me. I have solutions that work more often than they do not, when I actually bother to use them. I know that these old patterns were some kind of weird coping mechanism that kept me alive when my life was a darker, sadder place. I also know that they do not serve me any longer and that I am letting them go bit by bit. I have learned that I can go to a yoga class and drop it all on my mat and leave a lighter, saner woman.  I am thankful for these things. I am also thankful that I have learned to see that these are only thoughts, that even when I am experiencing a day like Friday when I am full of fear, I can know logically that they are not real. Today I know that I am enough, exactly as I am. Maybe I can do better next time, or I am deluding myself, hell, maybe he doesn’t like me, but I know that if that is the case, there will be someone else who does. Everything is okay as it is. I know that God made me as I am and I know, without a doubt, that God does not make mistakes!

Wear My Heart On My Sleeve Or Take Off My Shirt?

I am a hopeless romantic. I am a seeker. I feel as if I am on a constant mission to find a man with whom I can share my life. This is something that I have been aware of for as long as I can remember. It as if it is already written and my soul knows the path that I am walking.

Most of the time I have real faith that eventually, when the time is right, I will find a person who will complement me, someone to be the yin to my yang, my partner in crime. Other times though, I fall into that pit of fear that exists inside me. The fear that my path does not include this kind of partnership pushes out the faith that I have. I think that maybe my God has other plans for me. I waffle between embracing my unfailing desire to find this individual, knowing that he awaits me at some point in my journey and hating that I cannot say, with complete honesty, that I am content to remain single forever.

Don’t get me wrong. My life is absolutely amazing. I often find myself in a moment observing the absolute perfection with which everything has unfolded around me. I have more friends than I have moments to share with them. My family is loving, supportive, and always there. I have a relationship with my creator that only strengthens and deepens with time. I have a yoga practice that blows my mind on a regular basis. I have a belief that everything happens for a reason and gratitude for the experiences that life has brought me. I have more than I need. I am truly blessed.

That being said, I often think that something is missing in my life. It manifests as a physical ache in my chest: it is longing, strong and sharp that cuts to the center of my being. It is a desire for a partner: someone to cook for and with, to fight with over the blankets and closet space, bicker with about whose turn it is to do the dishes, an accomplice for Home Depots runs, someone to come home to, and someone to make a home with.  I simply want to share these mundane tasks with someone on an intimate, daily basis.

This desire has brought some amazing men into my life over the years as well as some real jerks. Some of these men I still count as my closest friends and know that I can call on them anytime. They are a blessing.The others have shown me what I will and will not tolerate, how to communicate it, and how and when to set boundaries. These experiences have made me a stronger person. They have each taught me how to be a better partner and  a better friend.

This journey has taught me so much about honesty and open communication. It has taught me that love, whether brief or forever, is a gift that should be cherished. It has taught me to love myself a little more each time a “happily ever after” crashes down around me. Over time I have learned that relationships are challenging, but absolutely worth the effort. Romantic or platonic, these bonds are what this life is about.

Yet I sometimes wonder if life wouldn’t be simpler if I stopped the search and called it quits. It can bring a lot of pain along with the joy. Letting people in to end up disappointed, hurt, and feeling rejected can take a toll on the soul. The instinct is to show less of myself, to be less vulnerable, to put up a wall. This is what rationality tells me I should do: stop feeling so much and falling so fast, be careful, protect myself, be a watered down version of me. Thanks, but no thanks. I would rather stumble and fall than never run at all.

Today I choose to see dating as an adventure. I believe that the fall is exciting and beautiful even when it sometimes ends with me scraping myself up off of the floor. I have no plans to cease exploring every opportunity or close off my heart to the endless possibilities before me simply because I sometimes get hurt. I believe in love. And if I were to close myself off, even a little, I’d miss things that warm my heart, bring me joy, and make me laugh, like yesterday’s rapid fire texting with the charming #cajuncasanova, my frustrating twitter #luriatextcampaign, and all of the extensive and hilarious conversations that BH and I have about our own special kinds of crazy. And I ask, where would the fun be in that?!

Life is good my friends. You just have to take a risk and open your hearts to receive the gifts.

Be fearless and enjoy the ride.

No Sleep or Dating ‘Till Brooklyn?

I had an afternoon coffee date last week. He was an attractive, ambitious, well spoken man. I found myself taking about my travels. The more I talked, the more that he looked at me like I was an alien. My sentences all began with “last weekend when I was in New York” or “when I got back from Europe” or even “when I was following Black Taxi a bit this summer.” These apparently are not normal conversation topics or relatable experiences. My priorities are not necessarily the norm.

I sometimes wonder if my capriciousness makes it harder for me to find people with whom I can really connect. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are others out there who value travel, change, and experience as much or more than I do, I’ve met them, but we seem to be few and far between. Currently though, this difficulty in my dating life is a godsend. It looks as if I am going to be an extremely busy lady over the next year!

Up next on the eccentric Sarah front, my lofty idea of making the move to NYC. I am finding just the idea of the move, makes me giddy and tingly all over. I am so excited for what the future may hold, but I am a little nervous as well. What if I cannot get my family on board with the idea? What if my plan for a roommate falls through? What if I never even find an apartment in the first place? What if none of the graduate programs in the city accept me? Or if I cannot find an internship in the fall?

These are a lot of “what ifs” and pretty large ones. Luckily, I am quite convinced that this is the path that I am supposed to be on, which makes it easy to have hope and faith that it will all fall into place one way or another. These questions also make my drive to accomplish a great deal in the next seven months very strong. I am a force of nature if I want something bad enough. Now is time to harness all of that power in one direction. Look out! I may just conquer the world! 😉

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