"Once you get over the fear, then it’s a cinch,” she said. And then she leaped into a mountainous and unexplored region of her heart."
Why do I explore the things I do in my work as a writer and intimacy coach? I imagine and yearn for another way for lovers to be together. It all started when my own relationship fell apart, and my understanding about fear, sex and love took unexpected turns.
Somehow, I got the message that fear was a bad thing, a state of mind to avoid. Except, that didn’t work. Avoiding fear only worsened my pain. My marriage continued to fall apart, the very thing I was afraid of, until one day, I pulled an Anaïs Nin moment: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
The pain became stronger than the fear of the unknown, and I finally just said, enough.
I found myself in the arms of someone I love shouting a big, fat YES to the possibilities with my inner pilot light fully turned on. I basked in my sexual power and vitality. There wasn’t attachment to the outcome or conditional acceptance about what might be. I worried less about sex vs. love vs. the size of my thighs or the stretch marks on my breasts and just leaned into the moment with my beloved.
My inner wisdom shouted loud and proud and I was listening! Fear and anxiety were frenemies to love, it said. It also knew that life is cyclical, and choices would be made, eventually, out of alignment with my upROARrious inner diva. I didn’t set myself up for failure so much as simply acknowledged that patterns are innate and powerful, and we will re-create structures and struggles.
First, fear’s greatest weakness is confrontation. Stare it straight on, and it diminishes. It motivates. It teaches.
Love wasn’t telling me to stay or go, acquiesce or suffer in silence when my marriage and sex life were a big fat disappointment. Anxiety heaved my lungs and bucked my knees until I realized I had the chutzpah and means to move on because I wasn’t leaving anything valuable behind. My greatest asset – me – was coming along for the next ride.
Second, what frightened me most taught me more. Taking the time to look, really look helped me understand that trepidation about being alone and unloved and unlovable was a load of hooey.
My divorce showed me that I had been searching for love with someone who didn’t really suit me, and our decision to stay together past our relationship’s expiration date was really because we were too chicken shit to let go. That wasn’t love. That was avoidance.
Third, emotions were the language of the soul. They all serve a purpose, shape our behavior and don’t follow logic or ‘rules.’
Emotions – especially the ones we are least comfortable with, hold energy – especially when we repress them. Set them free, and you allow for emotional breakthroughs that reflect your truest, authentic self. Our feelings are telling us things and for good reason. They are the inner barometer for what is working and what needs tweaking.
Learning to be with fear, paying attention to pain, expanding my capacity and tolerance for both, was an exquisite life experience for me. I discovered I had a high tolerance for discomfort, and a deeper capacity for joy.
All this from taking the time to dig into the nitty gritty of love, sex and relationships.