“Never Let Your Fear Decide Your Fate”
Last night, my husband took me to see the new movie “IT.” Even though he is deadly terrified of scary movies, he sucked it up because he knew I really wanted to see it. In him doing this action, it had me thinking a lot about fears, and what they mean to different people.
According to Webster’s dictionary is defined as; an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
If none of you are familiar with the movie I am referring to, I’ll give you a brief summary. It starts with a group of kids growing up in a one horse town. Every 27 years children of the town go missing. The kids in 1988 discover this after one of their own go missing. Each child has a different fear and that is what IT is to them. He can shape shift into whatever the child is fearing, and that is what he feeds on. So if a child were afraid of spiders he would shape shift into a spider, get the fear flowing through their veins then attack. Hard to imagine? I’m sure, but that’s Stephen King for you.
The movie got me thinking about fears of my own. Being a young child I remember being scared of abandonment, I always thought my family was going to leave me. As I got a little older into my pre-teens I feared my body and the changes it was making. I feared weight gain and having curves. Moving into my teens I started to fear less and less. I was treated pretty poorly by my classmates, bullied and threatened. Still I did not fear them, nor did I fear the suicide ideations I felt every single day.
During this time my dad was deployed so I constantly feared for his safety and well-being. I also feared for my mother’s sanity, raising 2 teenagers alone was difficult, but my sister and I were 2 grueling and exhausting kids making it near impossible for my mother. My sister the rebel, and me the closet anorexic/cutter.
During my high school years the same fears stuck with me but a few were added. I feared relationships, my first kiss, volleyball scouts, but most of all I feared myself. I was merely going through the motions. Some nights I would stay awake feeling numb only to be snapped back to reality by the shrill of my alarm clock. I didn’t necessarily hate school, I just hated life. Looking back now I think most of my fear came from my partner at the time. Abuse was no stranger to me but taking it from someone who supposedly loves you cuts deep like any other. I became so accustomed to it that it was my everyday norm.
Failure was my next fear in life. As I packed my room away for college my only fears were not being good enough. “What if I don’t make the team?” “What if I fail my classes?” I thought this would be my only shot to get out of the one horse town I grew up in, and if I didn’t succeed, I would live and die there. That was probably my biggest fear, I wanted so much more than to be a live and die there type of girl. To marry my high school sweetheart and our kids go to school with kids of the kids we went to school with. To be that washed up athlete who peaked in high school? No thanks.
I soon learned being on my own was no treat. That there really were cruel people in the world. I had been sheltered my entire life and was about to be bit in the ass by the real world. College came with the same critics I had my entire life. My coach brought my eating disorder to life, magnified it by 1000. Her voice is the voice I hear to this day, no ice cream, no fried foods, no extra starches, chocolate? Yeah you can forget about it. Still when craving these foods (and a list of others) I hear that voice, don’t do it you will get fat, you don’t need that, you don’t deserve it.
In my 18 years in a small town I never was scared for my safety. Until the day it happened, yes it could have been worse and thank god it wasn’t. For the next year I couldn’t go anywhere alone, I didn’t sleep, I could barely leave the house. It took me a year and self-defense classes to finally realize no one would ever catch me by surprise again. Until it happened again. Fast forward 2 years, living alone I was once again a target and this time I wasn’t so lucky. From then on fear was in control, which triggered the eating disorder once again. I decided that day I wanted to shrink not only emotionally but physically as well.
The fear I felt in the peak of my eating disorder was none like I felt before. I didn’t fear dying of heart failure, or fainting this time and not waking up. What I feared for was gaining an ounce, losing control, feeling hungry. I feared leaving my family in a state of confusion, why did she die? All because she didn’t want to eat? I also feared being hospitalized against my will, getting stripped of what little dignity I had left. My fears soon became reality as my therapist and doctor gave me no option but to be hospitalized.
I felt numb the first few months of inpatient, I was barely going through the motions. I never had realized how sick I was until my treatment team met with me and told me my organs were failing, my blood levels were so low they barely registered and my blood pressure was that of a corpse. Even this wasn’t enough to scare me. I would still workout in my room, refuse to eat, sat silently in sessions. I prayed for death in the long cold nights, just so I could finally be free of the demons inside me.
Finally though, after months of treatment and no progress what broke me was seeing my roommate being rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the night of heart failure. Dying at 23 from the same evil that was inside me. At first I felt jealousy that she was now stripped of pain, I then opened my eyes and actually wanted to start the healing process.
Over a year later, my fears have changed substantially. I fear of not getting enough time with my beautiful family. The thought of losing my husband or my dogs or this beautiful life we’ve created, that’s my fear. I now enjoy life, I’m not saying I’m completely fearless with my disorder, I still body check myself in the mirror every day, I compare my frail body to the “healthy” body I have now. I still am food conscious. So I’ve gained weight. Who cares? For the first time I’m realizing I am more than a number. I am the happiest I’ve ever been and I refuse to let that voice in my head take one more day of happiness from me. I’ve learned that life is short, and to live is beautiful. I no longer wish to die, for the pain to end. I wish for longer days, even on my worst days I’m happy. The worst days of my life now can’t compare to the hell I lived in for years. Today I wake up with a purpose. Every day I laugh, dance, and sing and I cry but most importantly I am FEELING. I welcome the hurt and pain now because I know it will get better.
If you are lacking confidence in yourself, if you have fears of your own you are allowed to feel those feelings. Just don’t live in that darkness for too long. Always remember, “The pain you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that is coming.”