Overcoming Fear, One Moment at a Time

Facing fear is necessary for me right now, I have to do it in order to continue growing and thriving. What is the point of life but to thrive while living it? Easily said.

When my boyfriend and I first started living together in NYC three years ago, I was always getting startled by his presence in the apartment. He’d turn around the corner and I’d jump externally but also my heart would jump up into my throat. Do you know that feeling? Ugh. Rollercoaster status but without the thrill of the drop.

My boyfriend is definitely not scary, he’s slightly taller than me, handsome, and really quiet. I’m the loud one. Nonetheless, it was starting to make him feel somewhat self-conscious because every time he turned the corner I was frightened. We adopted tactics to avoid the scare; he’d say ‘I’m entering the room now’ whenever he was coming into a room I was already in. This helped me a lot but admittedly wasn’t practical and certainly not a long term solution.

One evening I entered our pitch black bedroom and was completely surprised to find him in our bed, sleeping. I screamed at the top of my lungs because I was so startled. I woke him up and he shot up out of bed and screamed at the top of his lungs, which only made me scream even louder. When he clutched his chest in pain we realized enough was enough.

Obviously, it’s terrible to walk into a room where someone is peacefully sleeping and scream. He thought something terrible was happening, as anyone would. I have no idea why I was so startled that evening. It’s not logical to me but fear really isn’t a rational emotion.

We needed a new tactic that didn’t involve him announcing his presence because he can’t do that when he’s asleep – unless he developed some crazy lucid dreaming technique. So, now I peek around the corner before I enter a room to assess where he is.

I’m happy to say I have adjusted to living with a partner and have had no fearful reactions to his entering a room, or sleeping peacefully, in about 2 years or so.

photo credit: Joel Marsh Garland

I suspect that a lot of the fears I have are similarly ridiculous and by catering to them I’m causing myself (and possibly others) undue stress and pain. Facing fear is necessary to continue to grow in my relationships, profession, and life generally. Dealing with anxiety, performance anxiety, fear of flying, fear of intimacy, it isn’t going to be easy, but my prediction is my day-to-day life (as well as that of those around me) will be vastly more complete (and less alarming) as a result. Time to let go.

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