Fear Is My Body’s Caution Tape

My fear is hindering me.

And I don’t just mean my paralyzing fear of spiders.

My fear is a constant companion to my anxiety and, let me tell you, they are serious bullies. When I was a kid, I felt invincible. However, as a kid, anything I was afraid of seemed easy to tackle, whereas now, everything seems insanely difficult to face. I have always been a fighter, not a “flighter.” I would be that character in a horror film who goes towards the loud noise in a dark house. I’d rather know what I’m facing and take my chances than spend my life running.

So, why is it that I can’t seem to face my fears as an adult? Maybe it’s because I have more abstract fears now that I’m older. February 9th, 2010 my grandmother passed away. It was sudden and unexpected, and at 16 I was still convinced that no one that I loved could ever die. I was incredibly close to my grandma. In many ways, she was a second mother and a best friend. Losing her crushed me entirely. To this day, I’m still working through that.

I’ve always been a “worrywart,” but anxiety feels like constant worry on steroids. Some days are better than others, and I’m very fortunate that my anxiety isn’t worse. But losing my Grandma seemed to awaken all the fears that I had previously been immune to. I developed a constant fear of losing the people I love. Even thinking about that possibility is almost unbearable. That fear of death, loss, and loneliness bled into other aspects of my life. It was like a countdown had begun and I needed to always be my best for others just in case I lost them. I needed to spend time with everyone all the time. I needed to tell people I loved them more. In some ways, it taught me to appreciate life. In other ways, it made me terrified to live it.

I’ve realized something though: I do not want to live my life in worry. My anxiety has started to affect the way I live my life every day. It’s stopping me from pursuing the things I’d like to do and experiencing new things. It’s discouraging and upsetting. I’m afraid of disappointing others, of losing everyone, of making too many mistakes to receive forgiveness.

But I’m working on it. That tattoo I’ve wanted for a long-ass time, but I’ve been too worried would disappoint my parents? I might just get it. I may even work up the courage to allow myself to be who I am and nothing else. Wouldn’t that be something? Funnily enough, that might be the scariest and yet, most freeing thought of all. If I could just get myself to breathe and live and accept who I am right now, today, right this moment, it would feel like a big step in the right direction. If I could focus on living instead of letting my fears of loss eat away at me, I could be a happier human.

But, I think that’s what fear does to us all, in some ways. Fear is my body’s caution tape. And I have to decide whether I want to cross the line or not. Right now, I’m toeing the line, but that in itself feels really damn exciting.

by Ashlynn Powell

Originally published at obviweretheladies.com on February 22, 2016.