Fear and Courage
Welcome to this week’s meeting and congratulations to every awesome lady celebrating another day of sobriety.
Since joining AA I have learned a lot about how fear has driven so many of the bad decisions and behaviors I’ve made since my teen years – which is when my troubles started. In spite of growing up in a relatively happy home with two awesome parents in a lovely neighborhood in southern California, I had no confidence to cope with life’s challenges that hit during those years of puberty. In hindsight, I think I felt afraid most of the time, and unlike my siblings I didn’t manage this well.
My coping mechanisms were all destructive: I began with a few personal bad habits, then began to overeat to soothe myself which only compounded my anxieties and self-image as I grew larger. High school was a disaster, I sabotaged all prior success in school by hanging out with the bad kids, started taking drugs and drinking. By my early 20’s, I didn’t think much of myself and succumbed to having sex with any man that was interested. I could write a book about the awful things I did between the ages of 16 and 24, suffice it to say life wasn’t pretty.
I ‘cleaned up my act’ to some degree by the time I was in my late twenties, but until recently I did not understand the powerful emotion of fear and the impacts it has on me. When a fear comes up in my mind, I’m often too pre-occupied or busy to even notice, the master at burying that which I don’t want to deal with because it’s painful. Then my unhealthy ‘go to’ coping remedies take over (drinking, overeating, trying to control others, etc.). This has been a very destructive pattern for most of my life causing harm in all of my relationships and many bad decisions that are based in fear. The fear that people won’t like me, that conflict will come up if I say what I need to say, or do what I need to do, fear that others might not approve.
Thanks to the 12 steps, I don’t care any longer where this character defect stems from, I am just grateful now that I recognize it and have the tools to address it. This has made a huge difference in how I think and subsequently behave. Once I recognize and face a fear, I eventually muster up the courage to give it to God, which often times helps me to take action if needed. I might still feel afraid temporarily, but having the courage to move through the situation like a responsible adult brings a marvelous improvement in the quality of my life!
I look forward to hearing how each of you handles fear and experience courage to move through it.