- an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
- be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.
In the spirit of everything Star Wars now-a-days, I’ll lead in with this:
“Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” -Yoda
In one way or another, I would conclude that the fear of something, situation, person, etc., has impacted most of the major decisions I’ve made in my thirty years of visiting earth. It’s an unconscious part of my mental checklist while weighing out the possible outcomes, and I instinctually make those decisions based purely on a desire to survive. I’m not talking about the decision to choose McDonald’s over Burger King for lunch by the way, although I’m sure I could come up with a scenario where that could be pretty frightening…
…imagine terrorists started targeting our cow population; sleeper cells all over the farmlands and pastures of middle America. Nobody knew they were there because nobody really wants to live in middle America. They pump the cows full of whatever terrorist concoction terrorists come up with and then start flooding the market with the murderous beef. Or maybe they have become so technologically advanced that they figured out how to put mini-bombs inside each and every hamburger patty with detonation occurring upon the first, scrumptious bite, blowing your head off. You, who “forgot” to pack your lunch, again, unknowingly strolls into the joint, free from whatever mediocre, lamentable job you’re forced into doing because you want to at least be able to afford yourself a cheeseburger from time to time – it’s the little things that get us through. Your mouth waters as the burger approaches and then blammo, off with your head – cheeseburger bomb. Next time you eat a fast food burger; there might be a little fear in the mix until you get past that first bite, or maybe you’ll just go with the chicken sandwich.
That’s a pretty ridiculous and far-fetched scenario, but fear can be a tough subject to embrace; especially as a man. We’re told we need to be leaders and warriors; fear nothing; slay dragons or fulfill some other absurd conquest to save the day or rescue a damsel in distress. Now that’s all well and good – in fairy tales – and I’d undoubtedly love to grow up to be a dragon slayer, but in reality, I’ll never grow up and that’s most likely a dead-end career path anyway. So instead, I got educated out of the fear of being un-employable or self-insufficient; got married because I feared being forever alone; had children because I feared ending the family bloodline; stayed in my career because I was afraid of financial insecurity; woke up this morning because I fear not existing; numbed myself for years because I feared being alive – had a chicken sandwich at lunch for fear of a cheeseburger bomb. I made all those decisions based on, you guessed it, fear, and what my best option was for survival.
If Yoda is correct, and fear leads to anger, I must be a rather raging human – I must really know how to break some random household items or smash up a few watermelons like Gallagher. No, for me that’s not the case; my anger is seldom expressed outwardly; it’s turned inward and directed solely at myself – even if it’s something or somebody else that is causing me the irritation or angst. I don’t enjoy confrontation and I’ll do virtually anything to avoid it. Dare I say, I fear confrontation – it’s uncomfortably awkward and I’d rather take skiing lessons from Sonny Bono. I was angry because I didn’t accept things for what they were; I didn’t accept people for who they were. I wanted to be accepted, but I could never see things from the other side of the fence or place myself in somebody else’s shoes. If all the players in the game didn’t comply to my needs or act as I wanted them to, it made me upset and my life inconvenienced. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous paints a very good picture of what I mean and can be found on pages sixty to sixty-three.
As my anger internally escalated, it started brewing into forms of hate. I had no outlet to express how I felt because I was too afraid to explore one; I didn’t want to be judged – I just wanted to fly under the radar; be liked by everyone and seen as a calm, peaceful guy – a guy that has his shit together and is effortlessly conquering the world. I continued to stuff it all down and “act like a man”. I started to hate the world and everything in it, viewing it as an entity that was forever against me. Day in and day out, I ingested bottle after bottle of whiskey to make it all go away; a temporary relief from the nightmare I felt trapped in. Dealing with the consequences at the pinnacle moment of an urge to cease existing seemed overwhelmingly reasonable compared to dealing with the hatred, thoughts and imagery floating around and infesting my psyche. That’s the power of the mind.
Everything I had in my life was a front for my alcohol abuse. I desperately wanted to project the image of a happy home and functioning family because I hoped it would take the focus away from my alcoholism. I wanted it both ways; stay comfortable; never sleep in the gutter or on the streets while continuing to drink how I wanted and attempt to hold a fabricated life altogether. The amount of time and effort I put into this is unfathomable for those who don’t understand my affliction or that the disease in my brain will go to ANY lengths to protect itself from being stomped down and sent into remission. The resulting conundrum I have found myself in is the suffering Yoda speaks of. I love my little girl and my little boy, I love their mother, I love my whiskey and the freeing feeling of the nothingness it gives me. Yet, at this moment I have none of them anymore, I haven’t for some time now – and it’s the worst part of recovery by far; but – getting through that suffering and coming out on the other side without resorting to the bottle is hands down the best part – a genuine feeling of personal accomplishment. My kids are healthy and alive; I know they are okay and in my heart I know they love me like I love them. I’m building my foundation so I can be the best father I can be, present and alert – the kind they deserve. I love their mother and I always will in one form or another, but her well-being and happiness is more important than all the hurt feelings and broken dreams of the past. I know she’s out there living and breathing life, sharing it with our children, and that’s all I want for her; true, authentic happiness and peace. Next to getting and staying sober, letting go of the love and being okay with what’s leftover is the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in this life, but I forgive just as I wish to be forgiven – and flip to the next chapter as I continue on my journey.
As for the whiskey, it’s best kept on the shelf at the liquor store.