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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Fear Scale

Fear can be a good thing. It prevents us from putting our hands into an open flame. It makes us think twice before acting on something that may be dangerous. It’s that little voice in our head telling us to turn left or right or to not turn at all.

I believe there is a “fear scale”. At one end is the mild feeling of apprehension – like crossing a busy street. At the other end if full blown paranoia – like believing the boogey man is hiding in the closet. Too little fear can be just as dangerous as too much.

As the wife of an alcoholic, I can tell you that I have many fears that range all up and down the fear scale. Here is a sampling.

The fear that my husband will make a miraculous recovery and go back to drinking;

The fear that he will make the same recovery and not go back to drinking;

The fear that he will die a painful death;

The fear that he will never die;

The fear that I will die before him;

The fear that I will never have a sane, happy, loving man in my life;

The fear that I will have someone in my life that will become ill and I have to take care of him;

The fear that someone will come into my life and I will be the one who becomes sick;

The fear of living out the rest of my life alone;

The fear of trust;

The fear of not trusting;

The fear of losing myself by being what someone else wants;

The fear that I’m deceiving myself by thinking I really know who I am;

The fear of being unacceptable or not being accepted;

The fear that becoming accepted means I have to change;

The fear of not being heard;

The fear of being heard but misunderstood;

And the list can continue on and on…

What has worked for me is to take each fear as it rears its head and address it in the moment that it is happening. But, I’m a procrastinator so my timing is often way off which means I just plunge head first and worry about the consequences later.

I refuse to let all my fears rule my life. I have a fear of cutting myself when chopping vegetables, so should I never include vegetables in my recipes? No – I chop the damn vegetables and keep a box of bandages close at hand. I weigh my options. Is the fear of doing something greater than the fear of not doing something?

The point of this post is to suggest to you that you not let your fears stop you from fulfilling your dreams. Sort out your good fears from your bad fears, keep track of where they are on the fear scale and then live a full and complete life.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

FEAR Fear Everthing And Run. FEAR Face Everything And Recover

Anonymous said...

I too suffer from many of these fears. I was never a perfectionist in my personal life. I always thought that getting it done, doing it "good enough" was the way to go, instead of driving myself crazy. My husband was an alcoholic, combining Irish drunkenness with German precision. How he maintained those 2 opposing characteristics was a mystery to me. But when he retired and started drinking heavily, everything bothered him. Everything! The dogs, inanimate objects, the way ice cube trays sat in the dish rack, etc. Soooo, everything I did was wrong, wrong, wrong. It really undermined my confidence and made me question everything. As you said, who am I, what do I believe, questioning everything. So all my fears have resurfaced and grew exponentially. It has been 4 years since he died; he could not stand himself and went cold turkey. He too had brain damage, a Frankenstein gait, hallucinations, memory loss, loss of bladder control. He was 56. Retired at 55 after 30+ years as an industrial electrician. So strong. Worked in high voltage. Working on scaffolding in high rise buildings. How many people can do that? How some one can get from point A to point B in so little time is still so incredible and shocking to me. We had no idea what alcohol could do. I naively thought it was just a question of will power. And I was so glad it wasn't drugs. Now I am 4 years older, feel it and look it. Wondering what my future will be. When we went to the beach I used to see older women sitting reading -- alone. Or dining in a restaurant, with a bunch of other older women. I used to feel so lucky, not to be one of them. Now I am. I still feel sorry for myself. We were married 10 years. Me, at the age of 50. We were a great team for so long. He had the energy of a 19 year old boy. I watched him become a shell, a mean, unwashed, angry, confused lunatic. So sad. His death, one would think, set me free. But it didn't. I still mourn for the old life. He used to say in his sober moments, "I want the old Tommy back." And I would say, "so do I." Your Riley wants to die. In so many ways, he is already dead. I wish you well. And none of it is your fault. Remember that.

Anonymous said...

My fear was my sister would continue to live bed bound and in denial. Occasionally she knew she was approaching the end. She said during one hospital visit this June, "I can't believe I did this to myself". Then 2 hours say "I'm going to buy a truck with the money Mom left me, I deserve that..."

I had a new fear then.

Anonymous said...

I love you, Linda! You are a beautiful and powerful woman.