Fear is Testing My Faith
It really bugs me, CrisMarie, when people make platitudes like:
“Come from love, not fear”
“Just be positive”
Okay, okay … I’ve even said these things to myself! I don’t know about you, but it’s just not that easy for me.
I grew up in a house that was chaotic with emotional and physical violence. Each day I was on guard as to what to expect. As a result, I didn’t develop a sense of safety in my own body. I wasn’t validated for what I felt or thought. I didn’t develop an ability to self-soothe.
I had to do something to deal with the overwhelming sense of fear, helplessness, and tension that I was feeling. To escape this discomfort, my unconscious strategy was to disassociate from my body, to stop feeling and to get busy achieving.
Achieve I did. I made it to the Olympics as a rower, had prestigious job in a top firm, the sexy car, a charming 1914 home, the “perfect” relationship, a decent savings account – but it still wasn’t enough.
I was stymied. What was it going to take for me to finally feel safe?
Then I started training to become a life coach, and I learned I wasn’t spending much time IN my body. My body was more like a tool I used, breaking down at inopportune times and needing to be fixed by some expert. It wasn’t until I studied the mind-body process that I started to come back into contact with my body.
I realized why I left my body—I felt too much! I didn’t know how to handle my emotional energy!
I was like a child having to learn how to feel and tolerate my own emotional energy rather than disassociating from my body and my feelings.
I had to learn how to feel my feelings, to allow the emotional energy to well up and move through my body and to start to use the emotional information as a guide to what felt right or wrong for me.
As I connected to my body and emotions, I also bumped into the unprocessed traumas of my childhood. I then turned my attention to unraveling those stuck spots.
I was finally spending more time in my body, treating it like my partner rather than a tool, and getting a handle on what had happened to me earlier on. I was feeling my emotions and making much better choices for myself. I started my own business, created a healthier relationship, started painting, dancing and acting.
Then my sister was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer at the age of 56. Just four years earlier, my brother had died of colon cancer, also at the age of 56. WTF!?! There are only three of us kids. Not Fair! Go away cancer!
This triggered a deep-seated terror response in me. I started waking up almost every night, at 2AM terrified and shaking. With fear coursing through my body, I’d get out of bed and get to work:
I did thought work.
I did somatic work.
I did mind-body work.
I did breath work.
I did cathartic work.
The good news is that over the course of about a year or two, I became very skilled at working with fear and becoming “bigger than” it was. I finally developed self-soothing strategies. Yay me!
Three years have passed and my sister is still alive, but she’s now been diagnosed with a second cancer. I know, it completely sucks.
In my desire to make things happen, I’ve offered all sorts of support until she told me to stop. It wasn’t what she wanted. It’s so hard not to try to help when something feels so out of control, unjust and unfair. But in this case, there’s no amount of muscling through the pain that works.
I realize now, this isn’t something my sister is going to overcome. She has to go through it in her own way. And this isn’t something I’m going to overcome, either. This process and the grief I feel is something I have to go through.
I’ve started reading about mortality. It’s brought up the question of faith.
What is faith? Is there a higher power? How can I feel the Divine working in my life especially in situations like this?
One mentor of mine defined faith as “the felt-sense of the continuity of life,” even through all the struggles, hardships, successes and happiness. Sometimes I get that, but sometimes I think – what the hell does that mean?
Early in my 30’s I went to Al-anon, a program for loved ones of alcoholics where the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are practiced. I’m particularly reminded of the first three steps that gave me, then and now, much needed support:
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (health, other people, money, my success…)— that our lives had become unmanageable.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him (Her).
For some, this may seem crazy. For me, it helps me feel like I’m not so alone – that all this hardship is not in vein. I can’t bring my brother back, I can’t heal my sister. I can’t even make her happy. I can only work to make me healthy and happy, which is a big enough job. I won’t lie, my faith is being tested. I want to believe, and I also feel so sad about what’s happening to my sister. I don’t want to lose her. I love her so much.
What about your life?
Are you ignoring your body? Avoiding your feelings? Muscling through to make things happen?
I want to invite you to take a road less traveled. Your body and emotions have so much support to offer you. You can cultivate a sense of safety inside your own body, which is a huge resource. When you honor and feel your emotions, you’ll receive much needed information about what’s right and what’s wrong for you – to make good decisions for you.
Finally, even though this is a difficult time for me, I do believe there is something Divine inside, wanting to support and help us live our best lives. Your job is to get out of the way and let the flow of life, the current take you.
So is mine, even though sometimes it’s hard to do!
P.S. If you want to work on your relationship, Susan and I are launching, Relationship Mojo formally known as Ignite Your Relationship Mojo. It’s a six week class to help you transform your relationship (even if your partner isn’t interested). We’ll take you through a series of modules that will help you feel alive, passionate, and empowered again.
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.
Interested in coaching? Check out CrisMarie’s executive coaching and personal coaching, or Susan’s personal coaching and equus coaching.
Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.
Click here to contact them to coach with you, consult with your team, or speak at your next event.