Fear: Courage on Steroids

I feel things deeply. Always have. So I can be swept away emotionally with the teeniest bit of provocation. My reactions are so out of whack to the actual event that people used to call me a reactionary. I would just sigh and say, What you see is what you get!

I’m not sure what that meant, but they probably found out that if they made me upset, I was going to try to make them even more upset. Don’t mess with me, buddy!

The funny thing about fear is that it is a master of disguises. As stated above, it can sound like bravado or aggression. Fear can look like courage on steroids!In Bill W’s essay This Matter of Fear which appears in The Best of Bill he writes:

As the AA Book says, ‘Fear is an evil, corroding thread; the fabric of our lives is shot through with it.’ Fear is surely a bar to reason, and to love, and of course it invariably powers anger, vainglory and aggression. It underlies maudlin guilt and paralyzing depression.

So fear can disguise itself behind behavior on both ends of the spectrum–all the way from aggression to depression. On the spectrum of negative emotions I’m wondering what raw emotion I have that’s not actually powered by fear. Do I have one?

Bill continues, President Roosevelt once made the significant remark that ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’  I remember that I was in high school when I first heard that quote. I was sitting in the chair by the door in Sociology class.

Want to know how ironic that is? I was in that particular chair because I could get out in a hurry! I was glad we didn’t have assigned seats because I could sit in the exit chair. I felt safer there, also if I turned just so…I could see everyone in the room. I didn’t like people behind me. What’s that sound like to you?

Fear. Bill calls it a corroding thread throughout the fabric of our lives. Maybe that’s why my life was such a heap. All those corroding threads were unraveling! Fear affected my relationships, my choices, my core being for as long as I can remember. By the time I was in my 50’s my life was corroding, flaking, rotting and disintegrating faster than I could patch it back together. With that much fear and that much destruction, who wouldn’t want to escape into the bottle?

Digging below the reactive emotions is hard work. Looking for the disguised fear is a daily task. Sometimes it’s more than I’m able to do. Then I escape a little. I read, I watch old reruns of Law and Order; I take a breather. I know the fear is still there but like a piece of glass sewn into a closed wound; it will work its way to the surface again and maybe the next time when my emotions are bleeding all over me and everyone close to me, I’ll have the energy to pull it out, examine it and dispose of it.

Oops! I mean then I’ll have the wisdom to let God do it. Probably if I weren’t trying to do all the character-building work myself I wouldn’t need to escape so much in the first place. I could spend my time working on this blog and on my program of recovery and giving myself to others.

We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012,  p. 68