Friday, November 05, 2010

Getting out the front door

Some people spend their adulthoods moving from one career accomplishment to another. Some pour themselves into raising families and/or building a long-lasting marriage. Some improve their communities, help build companies, nurture their extended family or tend decades-long friendships. And for some of us, it takes all of our attention and energy just to make it through the front door.

I hope most children are nurtured by their caretakers and taught to value themselves with strong self-esteem. I admire those who believe in themselves and don't buckle to worry and fear at every challenge. They contrast those of us who did not receive a strong foundation of confidence and love. For many of us, life just looks scary and it always has. We're like an animal that was crippled before it got a chance to leave its den and must struggle to get outdoors. Many people take for granted that one day they'll fall in love, establish a career, have children, join a community and/or make their mark on the world in some way, and I think most people do at least a few of those things. But some of us have a mountain of fear and insecurity that we have to get past before we can get close any of those experiences.

I've been told that I have a poker face and that people have a hard time reading me. I'm aware that I come across as cold and indifferent, maybe even snobbish and intimidating. I don't want to be unpleasant, but this behavior isn't a conscious choice. When I was too young to remember, I adopted a certain withdrawn stance as a way of surviving emotionally. It served me and in many ways still does. I'm not sure I can unlearn it now.

I have lived my life in a crouched position, wanting the things I saw other adults achieving or finding, but not being brave enough to reach for them in a consistent way. I have had many jobs (all entry level), many relationships, many friendships and even more than one religion, but I never stayed still long enough to achieve permanence or closeness. Without commitment, I haven't managed to build a career, own a house or have a baby. I could regret these things, except that I know this was the best I could do. I have struggled for over twenty years to manage my fear of intimacy, aversion towards responsibility and terror of being suffocated by the needs of others. I have worked very hard on these limitations of mine and this is where I am now.

A few years ago I finally overcame one hurdle and managed to fall in love and get married. I'm still amazed by it because being able to make that commitment was very hard for me and took years of effort.

It's not too late for me to achieve the things I see in others, it's a matter of how well I manage my fears. It won't have a big impact on others and it's not exciting, but this seems to be my life's work. While others build careers, create art and raise children, I work to improve my limited view of myself and create some self-esteem. Some people have the courage and self-confidence to dream and then make it happen, while others of us toil away at removing enough of our fears to finally act. My dream is to have the self-confidence it takes to dream.

4 comments:

Sandii said...

what a miracle that there are 'others'

Regina said...

Thank you, Sandii.

Obesio said...

This post moved me deeply.

Regina said...

Thank you, Obesio. There's more (unfortunately) where that came from.