Often, I encourage folks to embrace or befriend their “shadow.” What I mean when I say this, is compassionately listening to the parts of us we may repress or don’t want to acknowledge. When we do this, we actually have the opportunity to work with these parts of ourselves in a different way. Ideally, instead of these repressed emotions or experiences controlling us—we have the ability to recognize why they mattered in the first place, and how to interact with them in a healthier way. And this is why I decided to write a love letter to fear:
I don’t quite know where to start, fear—we’ve been through a lot. It seems like you’ve been getting a bad wrap lately and I know you’re often misunderstood.
So I suppose I’ll start here: thank you.
Thank you for the ways you’ve protected me. For all the times you alerted me that something was off; that it wasn’t quite right. Thank you for activating my nervous system, and putting me on high alert so you could protect me in all of those scary situations.
Thank you for racing my heart when you wanted me to notice that person who meant harm to me.
Thank you for helping me to move my body out of the way when the car almost hit me.
Thank you for reminding me I am alive, with the tingling in my spine, when I wondered if maybe I had already died.
Thank you for the hyper vigilance you incited when I lived in a home that kept me constantly wondering if I was safe—thank you. You have truly done all you could to keep me alive and here.
Fear, I suppose one of the reasons I’m writing to you now is to also tell you—you may do your job too well sometimes.
You’ve kept me so adept at staying safe that sometimes now, when all is well—I cannot tell if I need you or not. You keep me too on guard, and sometimes I forget to breathe for wondering if you are speaking.
So fear, as much as I’m grateful for you and can’t believe how much you’ve helped me—I think it’s time we re-negotiate our relationship.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I certainly still need you, fear. But when I am at the park with my kiddos, my feet firmly planted in the cushy grass, can we call a truce on imagining all the ways my little people will fall? I know you only want safety, but I need to think clearly, so maybe we could try?
And when I stop to notice the sunset, could you, for a moment—let my grip loosen as I watch for beauty? Could you let me help you, when I know for certain we are safe?
Could we work together to do this differently now?
I know, I know, all the years you had to work in overdrive. I know you only meant to help.
And you did; I’m still here—and I’m thankful.
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