An Open Letter About Fear

I have been afraid for so long. Afraid to listen to my true self. Afraid to honor what was inside.

I think I got married 33 years ago because I was afraid of being an old maid, of being alone. I loved my husband at the time, but if I am truly honest, I knew early on that I had made a mistake.

Fast Forward 15 years and 2 children later and I realized after a fight in our kitchen that I no longer loved this man. The realization hit me in the gut, and I remember doubling over in pain, clutching my belly, and sobbing. I could not leave, I was afraid. I was a stay-at-home mom with a 7- and 12-year-old who had only worked part-time jobs. My husband was the breadwinner, and I was too afraid to even consider the possibility of trying to support myself and my children. I also knew that my husband would make getting a divorce exceedingly difficult, which has been proven accurate as I am presently in my 2nd year of trying to secure a divorce from him.

So, I stayed for another 15 years, too afraid to leave until I wasn’t. Perhaps I was more afraid of staying in that unhappy marriage than being alone. Perhaps I was just able to let the fear go, I am really not sure, but I moved out, secured a full-time job (not an easy feat at 60), and tried to start over.
Fast Forward to 2020 and Covid hits. Now everyone is afraid. I do not want to leave my house! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) I have a job that requires me to interact with the public daily. So now I am afraid to talk to people and they are afraid of me. Fear is everywhere. I can just live in this fear with everyone else and not think too far ahead.

Things are better in 2021, I have had my 2nd vaccination and I am starting to make plans, but still, I am afraid. Afraid to quit my soul-sucking job which I hate, afraid to live a crazy dream I have of jumping in my new car and taking off around the country to visit friends and family that I have so desperately missed. Afraid it is too stupid, too cliché, too unrealistic, too expensive…too late.

I am 61 years old, and I am afraid it is too late for me to “BE HAPPY” to “FIND JOY”. How dare I expect to be happy; no one is shooting at me and I should not expect more (my father’s voice). So, my fear says take no chances, be realistic, don’t be ridiculous (my mother’s voice) or you will end up broke, homeless, and alone.

But then a small quiet voice from my true self speaks up, at first quietly and then loudly and says NO, THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN. The worst thing that you think will happen is just a story that you are telling yourself. It is not real. I realized today, after saying something hurtful to my son because of my own fear of that story that for me to live an authentic life honoring my true self and have loving connections with others I have to let go of the fear. Even if I do not have faith in a higher power or grand scheme of life, even if I believe in nothing but myself, I must jump into that void of unknowing.

By releasing the fear and the anger that protects that fear I can change my mind, my life, and my story.
-Leesa Shulman


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