A letter to Fear.

Dear Fear,

I know why you’re here.

You seem to be around quite a lot lately.

In fact, looking back, I can’t remember a time when you weren’t close by, ready to pop up at any moment and remind me of all the dark things hiding around corners.

You began as the voice of my father. Warning of me of monsters in the hallway, of people who would take me away if I went walking by myself, of being abandoned if I wasn’t a good little girl.

Now you come in different ways. Often in the form of headlines – inescapable, everywhere I look. ‘Woman murdered in the street. Child taken from own backyard. Intruders break into house and assault family. Terror plot in Melbourne streets.’

You stepped it up when Jakey was gone. You said, ‘See, look what happens when you’re not vigilant. When you’re not looking for all the things that can go wrong and making sure they don’t. Look what happens! You lose the people you love! They get taken away from you because you didn’t listen to me enough. So listen up woman, tune in loud and clear, every single day and don’t stop, ever.’

I made sure I took you seriously when I knew I had a life growing inside me. I obsessively read all the books and followed all the rules and thought of nothing but how to keep her safe in my belly. I was so busy following your instructions that I almost forgot to stop and enjoy the beauty of it all, or to embrace those around me into the magic.

You stepped it up again a few years ago when my life took an unexpected turn. My little life blueprint I’d built had been torn to pieces. You sneered, ‘See, you’re not good enough for that life. That’s not for you. You’re too silly and scatty and different and you definitely don’t do enough squats.’

Luckily Hope stepped in and whispered in my ear, ‘Check out this path over here. There are a few rocks and branches to climb over but your legs are sturdy and stronger than you think. And the beauty you’ll discover along the way just may be worth the scramble. Come on, I’ll be with you all the way.’ Love and Adventure came along too, and kept me going.

Sometimes though you are still quite loud. You block my vision and get in my way. I keep tripping over you and you get stuck in my throat, crushing my voice. I have things to say you know. I suppose sometimes they may be the wrong things. As my Dad would say, ‘That’s a stupid question. Don’t talk like that. You’re wrong.’ Funny though, looking back, I’m sure there are times that he was the one that was wrong.
(Guess what Dad, girls can and do play football now.)

I do know that you’re here to keep me safe and truly, I thank you for that. I am certain that there are times that you have saved me from pain, heartache or trouble. But there are also times when I think you may have kept me from adventure, excitement and achievement.

You see, this isn’t just about me anymore. I’ve noticed that you’ve also become quite attached to my daughter. I see you in her eyes, wrestling with her dear friends Curiosity and Fun. I want you to always keep her safe and at times I will certainly rely on you for that. But also, I want you ask you to let her be young and feel safe and explore the world around her.

I’m inviting Adventure, Love and Joy to help me pave the way for my little Wildling. She has a fire in her belly and a sparkle in her eyes and I won’t let it be dulled. I am sure that she will get herself into trouble at times, however I hope that it’s Intelligence, Empathy and Logic that guide her in those moments.

Fear, I ask you to be there only as her safety net. As that niggle in the pit of her stomach that says, ‘This isn’t right, this isn’t for me, it’s time to go.’ I’ll make sure she knows that in those moments, she has a tribe to call on who will be there in a moment, without Judgement or Shame. They’re not invited. It will be harder for me to do that, to allow her to make her own mistakes, with you constantly shadowing over me.

All I ask is that we establish some healthy boundaries, you and I. I do want you along for the ride. I’d like you to be tucked in there next to my Moral Compass and my Sense of Reason. However, I’m not going to let you lead. I’d like to allow Creativity, Love and Play a little more space to stretch their legs.

And so, Fear, these are our new rules, our boundaries. These are going to help us figure out where your role in my life begins and ends.

Firstly, each time I say something, I am not going to continually replay it in my mind afterwards, sifting through to check if there’s something in there that was somehow not ok. I will assume that if it was not the right thing for that person in that moment, then it will become apparent as it needs to. And I’ll grow as a person.

Each time I get dressed rather than asking myself, ‘What will the people I see today think of how I look?’, I will instead ask, ‘How do I feel right now?’ If I feel sexy, fun, comfy or most importantly if I feel like me, then I’ll get on with my day and think nothing more of it.

Each time I get stuck in dark thoughts of what it would feel like to lose the people I love, I will be reminded to treasure them. To hold them tight and love them with every part of me. Ensuring they know they are special and unique and cherished. I will focus on ways that I can bring joy and happiness into their lives, rather than keeping them from leaving me.

Each time I think of exploring a new place, I will research and do all I can to ensure a safe and happy journey for me and my family. However I will not allow your presence to stop me from going anywhere at all. Adventure is tugging at my sleeve and I want to hear what it has to say, without you slapping it away.

Fear, I will allow you to do your job and protect me, but I am tougher than you think and I need a little more room to move, to live. Thank you for all that you’ve done, but our arrangement will be changing from here. You can come along but grab a seat in the back as I won’t allow you to take anything from me, not anymore.