We talk a lot about fear in sobriety. As I peel back the layers, I understand more and more about fear, both in myself and others, but it still remains somewhat of a mystery to me. The one thing I can say is that I used to believe I was afraid of almost nothing, and now I am seeing that I was and am afraid of almost everything – the baffling thing is that the more things I realize I am fearful of, the less fear I have. I have also come to realize that sometimes I have so many fears going on, that I don’t know which one to face and I need to get down to the root cause -that is what this post is about.
For my 8th Birthday my parents gave me the life-size, glow-in-the-dark skull pictured above. They purchased it secretly during our Disneyland trip. I may have even asked for it, I don’t think so, but it is possible – don’t remember. I may have thought it was cool at first but I don’t remember that either, I only remember the aftermath. That skull sat on my dresser, directly in my line of sight across from my bed, glowing at me nightly. I was terrified of it, I would lie awake for hours, every single night, envisioning that it was alive and all the dastardly things it wanted to do to me. This went on for YEARS, I never told anyone, I never moved it. Face my fears? Yeah buddy, I did that, I faced that motherfucker every single night. But no, I wasn’t facing the real fear. The fear of being my authentic self, the fear of admitting I was afraid, the fear of disappointing my parents, the fear of my tough drill instructor father being disappointed in having a son that was afraid of a toy skull, the fear of admitting my truth, the fear of not being exactly who I thought you wanted me to be. When I described myself as a chameleon in my drinking story, this is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about, I strove to be whatever I thought you wanted, and it corrupted my soul. The fear of preserving my pride and ego was worth any price. What does this have to do with drinking? Everything to me. More specifically, it has everything to do with my sobriety and recovery. Put simply, I need to find and face the real fears to make progress in my recovery.
You know, that skull was meant to be in my life. It has taught me a lesson, a lesson that took 38 years to learn, but a lesson nonetheless. That skull still sits in my old room at my mother’s house. Maybe I will have her bring it to me, a reminder of the fear that wasn’t the real fear, a reminder to keep searching.