Unfamiliar fears bring new revelations

The more curious and open I have become about my feelings and where they come from, instead of just trying to redirect or stuff them down, the more I have learned about myself and my genuine desires for my life.

A few weeks ago (I started this post a month or two ago), I was walking the dog a little later than usual and he wanted to go down a dark alley (yea, the dog is in charge of where we go on his walks, what can I say) and I suddenly felt a new, unfamiliar fear.  Well, not totally unfamiliar, but a fear I hadn’t felt in a couple of decades.  I became aware of something I had always known, but was too ashamed to verbalize: until recently, I really didn’t value my life. I can’t really pinpoint this belief to to any particular time or specific event, although there are some incidents that make sense in retrospect.

I never wanted to be responsible for my own death, but (especially when I was feeling particularly low) I would fantasize about accidents tragically rescuing me from what felt like a dark, inescapable hole of a life.  I feel sad now, when I think about all the time I spent feeling so desperate and so broken, that I would hope for something so horrible.  I feel shame about the selfishness of it and the pain it would have caused the people who loved me, something else I couldn’t quite fathom at the time.

Thankfully those dark clouds have cleared and I’m grateful for the breath in my body, but what I discovered that late night in that dark alley, is that valuing my life comes with a side of fearing its loss.  As I noticed this new, unfamiliar fear, I had an opportunity to contemplate a few interesting things:

Is this fear real?  Now that I’m not afraid to exist, does the familiar feeling of fear have to attach itself to something else?  Am I so used to the feeling of fear that I don’t know what or how to feel without it?  Where does the fear go, when it has nothing to attach to?  What am I specifically afraid of?  Death itself?  Whatever comes after life? Something else entirely?

In asking myself these questions, I found that my greatest fear is regret.  Regret about leaving things unsaid.  Regret about not having made the impact I believe I am capable of making.  Regret about not finding and fulfilling my purpose, or squandering my unique gifts, whatever they may be.

Once I had identified that REGRET is my core issue, I started thinking about how I could live a regret-free life. I thought back to my last post, about living in the moment. I thought about avoiding “deferred happiness,” the false belief that happiness is somewhere in the future, when I finally [fill blank] (examples: lose weight, get a degree, find a partner, get my dream job, make more money, the list goes on and on).  I thought about openness and vulnerability.  I realized if I speak my heart in every moment, instead of waiting for a more appropriate time in the future, and if I do work I am passionate about NOW, instead of waiting for a more convenient time, a time when I imagine I will be more “ready” (let’s talk about that lie some other time), then there will be no regret to fear and late night walks don’t have to feel scary.

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This was also the day I decided to give notice at my fancy corporate job, to return to school and start working on a career that fills my heart space with passion and purpose. More about this soon.

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