I’m releasing a book today and if you could buy it? That would be great.
But that’s not what this post is about.
This post is about memory and fear and being unapologetic in your joy and your fear.
It begins with fear and memory.
Sometimes, other people seem to remember my life better than I do. I’m not talking about Facebook posts here either—those tiny little moments that are forever embossed in the narrative of a social media life, tiny moments that strung together help define me even if I don’t always remember them.
But they do help me remember.
I see the images on ‘memories’ on social media and think, “Look, I was fitting people into wheelchairs in Belize, in Panama. Look, here is where my marriage almost broke apart but didn’t. Look, here is when I stopped. Just stopped. Oh, a pretty sunset. I must have started again or pretended to.”
But there are other kinds of memories that often don’t make it onto social media.
There are things I deliberately don’t remember—usually bad things—those painful moments that I push into the back of my head so that they aren’t they main things defining me and I only bring out to help other people (hopefully).
Robin Williams has said, “The things we fear the most have already happened to us.”
Which doesn’t quite explain my mom’s phobia of birds, but does explain so many other things and choices that we make as people.
But the Williams’ quote does make me wonder why we are so afraid, especially us writers.
Failing just means nothing changes.
Success? That’s where the unknown happens.
We become so used to shrouding ourselves in doubt and fear that we don’t realize that we can shed those things, but also? We don’t realize that we can put on new clothes, new positive emotions.
We don’t have to bond with each other in collectives of despair and mutual fear, but we can reach out and up, and lift ourselves and others into something good, something brave, something that isn’t full of fear and doubt, but bravery.
How cool would that be?
I grew up in a family full of fear. My mom was afraid of birds, swimming, bridges, closed in spaces, big open spaces, bugs, dead animals, storms, miscarriages, eventually cats, so many things—too many things. One of our big family stories was how when my sister was a toddler she was terrified of grass. She’s worked her way through that, thankfully. And my mom worked her way through moments that she didn’t want to remember. They were both brave even when fear seemed overwhelming.
But what was cool about my family—especially my extended family full of steps and halves and diversity—is that when something awesome happened? Almost everyone celebrated. There was no jealousy, just joy. There was hardly any “that should be me,” only “look at you go!”
So often our insecurities make us want to tear down the joys of others, even the tiniest of happiness. And that? That’s what matters. That’s what drowns us and our own creativity and propensity for joy.
We all know someone who is a bully even as a grownup, always looking for angles to pull others down. And no, I’m not just talking about people on Twitter, but people who elate in other’s miseries. Usually? Those people are bullies, blowhards and buttheads (I wanted to use the swear word there) because they are so insecure and riddled by fear that they last out.
That doesn’t make it hurt any less when they lash out at you, but you don’t want to be like them, you know? Don’t let your fear make you into a monster.
We need to spend less time pulling people into our own fear and insecurities and more time lifting people up into bravery and light.
One of my acquaintances was having a miscarriage once and was trying to get to the hospital, walking, because it happened during a walk around town. Panicked, she called another of our mutual friends who was out of town. And then they called me.
I have lost babies. Not many people know that.
I was on massive bedrest for five months for Emily (the baby who made it) to try to keep her inside me long enough to increase her chances. Pregnancy is a scary place (and joyful one) for me.
When I drove my acquaintance to our local hospital, cars were blocking intersections, tourists were yelling at locals and vice versa and in my car the unthinkable, the harrowing, was happening. It was terrifying. The fear was all over her beautiful face, in the shake of her voice, and there we were moving through all these happy families, all this joy and chaos and in my little car something very big was happening very quietly.
I was grateful and lucky to be there for her as she endured those horrible moments with such grace, and I am grateful and lucky to be there for anyone’s tragedy and celebration because it means that I was there. That I am there.
That’s what we have to be.
Despite the fear.
Despite the worry.
And when we are there in the moments of our lives and others’ lives, we can choose to react with fear or with compassion, with jealousy or with joy. We get to define that in our choices over and over again, and we damn sure aren’t going to be perfect each time, but what we can do? Is try.
Try to be unapologetic in your joy, in your success.
Try to take off that shroud of fear.
Try to stand with people as they fight for things that matter.
Try to be unapologetic in your moments, in other moments, to be there, to truly be there.
Try to live bravely, to create bravely, to love and mourn and sing bravely.
We can do this. Our past sorrows and fears are there, they can be remembered when we feel strong, but we get to choose how and if they define us in the moments that we are living now. That’s pretty powerful stuff. You are pretty powerful stuff!
NEW BOOK ALERT!
INCHWORMS, the second book in the DUDE GOODFEATHER series is coming out September 1!
A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.
A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.
And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.
2 thoughts on “Don’t let your fear make you into a monster.”
Wow, what a story. Thanks for sharing such a deep one. Now my fear of cockroaches seem pretty insignificant (also, I have no memories on why that is so). Great post!
Thanks for reading it, Stuart.
Cockroaches just make sense though. 🙂