Once upon a time there were three little fears. The first little fear was named Fear of Abandonment. Poor little thing was overwhelmed with constant anxiety and doing anything to make people like him. He would never argue or assert himself because he believed conflict or anger equaled abandonment. He would spend money on buying people lunch or extravagant gifts equating that to intimacy. This little fear battled constantly with issues of jealousy, rage as well as hoarding. His house was packed with stuff he was “going to make something out of someday”. Fear of Abandonment had many health issues as well. He was allergic to everything (except alcohol) and seemed to always be sick or have to go to doctor for random health issues or injuries.
The second little fear was named Fear of Exposure. This sad little fear worked herself to the bone to make sure everything looked great on the surface. She always had a smile on her face even when she was experiencing extreme adversity – she was always “fine” or “things are great”. She was constantly saying “I’m sorry, that was my fault.” Blaming herself first in order to avoid the potential shame that could come from something actually being her fault. She always said and did everything, calculating risk of exposure of potential inadequacy, constantly manipulating outcomes to keep her horrible feelings of inadequacy at bay. This little fear had severe spending issues and unmanageable debt, as well as having several phobias, and she would not learn to drive. Fear of Exposure also suffers from unexplainable panic attacks and was always having debilitating migraines.
The third little fear was named Fear of Being Out of Control. This annoying little fear never took responsibility for anything. She made sure to abstain from any kind of decisions or action so she would never be held responsible for the outcome in anyway. She was always complaining or pointing out other peoples’ inadequacies or letting everyone know why something was a bad idea. This little fear was always a victim of “something my boss did to me” or “my husband made me do it”. Fear of Being Out of Control was a terrible team member and could really only be in a relationship with Fear of Abandonment because Fear of Abandonment was the only one that would relinquish control to her. Fear of Being Out of Control would only participate in things that she was sure of the outcome and could become very depressed or extremely angry when things did not go her way. You could usually find this bossy little fear frantically trying to make everything perfect or depressingly letting everything crash to the ground.
These three little fears were best of friends and lived comfortably together, one manipulating the other to keep the peace and balance between them. For years everything ran like a well-oiled machine; all three fears maintaining their false realities of feeling valued, feeling safe, and feeling in control, all while compensating for the unmanageable behavior of the others. Then one day, the Big Bad Authentic Reality came to their front door. Big Bad yelled “I SEE WHO YOU REALLY ARE and I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down”. Fear of Abandonment had a heart attack and called an ambulance to come take him to the hospital – being sick and ill creates the illusion that people cared about him and will come to his rescue. Fear of Exposure snuck out the back door and went to the neighbors house and had coffee, pretending that everything was OK – confrontation or vulnerability had to be avoided at all costs. However, for some reason while Big Bad was yelling and banging on the door, Fear of Being Out of Control experienced a profound moment of vulnerability and found the courage to surrender. All the manipulation, anxiety, need for perfection, to be in charge, the need to control people places and things seemed too overwhelming and immediately was followed by the clarity that comes from admitting the only thing you really have control over is yourself; the grace that comes from realizing that it’s OK to ask for help. Fear of Being Out of Control called the Stepping Stones 24/7 HelpLine and talked to an advocate and explained what was going on and that Big Bad was at the door. The advocate calmly and knowledgeably guided Fear of Being Out of Control thru the crisis. Fear of Being Out of Control began attending Stepping Stones groups and began confronting those behaviors that kept her stuck in a cycle of unmanageability and chaos. It took great courage, honesty and willingness to do the hard work…but her choice to face her fear gave her a new name – Authentic Life.
Our advocates are available for you to call and talk to about how to start your authentic life, free from crisis, unmanageability, abuse and victimization.
Robin C. Burke
CEO Stepping Stones Agencies