The Big Book tells us we were “driven by a hundred forms of fear”. (p.62).  In sobriety I have learned that true, primal fear (e.g. being eaten by a predator) was never the problem.  It was the other 99 forms of fear (which often tried to impersonate virtues like caution, diligence, and preparedness) that caused all kinds of trouble.  After I got to AA and started working the Steps, I realized how much fear I had carried.  Before I understood what fear was, I experienced it as other states – anger, self-righteousness, vengeance, detachment, distance and many others.  I actually believed that I was quite brave, but not in a courageous way.  It was more like toughness, but even more precisely, it was bravado.  I was like an aggressive dog that takes advantage  of anyone who is easily intimidated.  More important than the fact that I had these fears and was unaware of them, was the reality of what they did to me and those around me.  I often could not have a discussion without starting to argue, even over the simplest of things.  I developed a chronic paranoia that others were listening to me, out to cause me problems and wanted to expose me.  Love was out of the question.  Everybody was in it for themselves and I refused to be taken advantage of.  Everybody was a suspect in my world.  Every kind act a potential con.  Looking back, I find it funny that when I first heard the Ninth Step Promises, I said to myself, “what fear of people?”  I honestly had no idea what these words meant.  I am still learning about fear and still not always aware that I have it.  Sometimes I am very afraid of the future, even though there is no reason for it.  It is all the “what ifs” that I conjure up while I am “thinking” or “planning.”  This habitual worry is a deeply ingrained character defect.  As much unnecessary suffering as it causes me, I know I am not entirely willing to let it go.  There is a vague sense that if I stop projecting and preparing, nobody else will take the wheel, I won’t see a curve in the road coming, and I will crash.  Thus, a fear of being fearless.  It may never end.  See, there I go again.  And again!

Photo by AinV

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