As Halloween approaches there is always a specific show in the Buffy series that I want to watch. In the fourth season, there is an episode called "Fear, Itself." There are so many clever lines in the episode that it never fails to make me laugh. Plus the ending is absolutely hilarious.
I was thinking about this episode recently, about how each character needs to confront their fears. These fears that we have cycling in our lives from time to time, these exaggerated stories about not being enough, not being loved, being abandoned, or losing control. These fears that play our in our heads and can cause us to take all sorts of action. Much like in the climax of the show, when the fear demon shows its face it is suddenly not a big deal. This enormous fear that has been playing out in our minds, can easily be squished by sharing it with the he right person, looking at the fear to see what it is or just letting it go. This is all captured beautifully in the show while Xander taunts the tiny little fear demon.
It is easy to look back, after the fear has been confronted and say "it wasn't a big deal, it was tiny." But in that moment when you are buried in that emotion, in that story it feels like it might never end. It is those moments when we have skin in the game that call for courage. Those are the moments that I practice for, to have the peace to realize it is a story and ask myself what do I want? I fail a lot, a lot. However I am slowly learning from those failures and realizing they aren't failures, they are just moments when I didn't use my tools, the tools weren't available or it is time to grow.
Adam and I moved into our house 10 years ago, full of dreams. The house was going to be the first backyard Sterling would play in (he hated playing outside), the home our children would remember, it was a place for us to grow into that suburban American Dream. As life revealed more and more of the terrain to us, those dreams shifted. The room for the nursery became a yoga and meditation space, the living room was designated as Sterling's "ball room," we slowly filled the house with the people we actually were becoming of those dreams.
However in the last year or so, the house has become too much for us to maintain. It has been a struggle to keep up with daily maintance and we have started to constrict how much of the house we use. We slowly started getting rid of things and eliminating clutter. However I know before we put the house on the market there are some larger maintance projects that need to happen. Even though Adam and I are facing a lot of opportunities right now and are unsure of where we might be going, it was time to ask an expert about what needs to be done.
Adam got a hold of the same realtor that sold us this house, because we loved her and she was amazing! We set up the appointment to have her come by and advise us on the house and to get an idea of how to proceed.
Here is where the fear demon entered the equation. No one tells you how chronic illness will affect your life, no one tells you that maintaining your home might become too much and you might feel embarrassed about the state it is in. So inviting someone into our home to tell us what needs to be changed is pretty vulnerable place to be. In fact I had no idea what fear demons would present themselves before Adam made that phone call. Nevertheless here they are and I get to look at them until the way through is clear.
Obviously one way through is to meet with the realtor and then come of up with a plan to execute. That solves the fear demon associated with "what if no one wants to buy our house."
The larger fear demon is that I will be judged by the state of my home and my ability to take care of it. That my mask of everything is perfect will be shattered. That perfection mask is a reoccurring demon for me, it is the belief that I can do everything "right" that no one will ever critized me or take their love away. This demon cannot be taken out by planning or doing something to solve the issue, because the issue does not exist. Perfection only exists in my mind, it is not real and provides an armor and mask for me to hide behind and prevents my true self from being seen.
For me this demon is squished by talking it out with someone that has some compassion, perspective and appreciation. This is accepting that my current health is more important then the state of my home and it is okay to move to something smaller and simpler to accommodate my needs. It is making peace with all the grief of those dreams that didn't come true, celebrating the ones that did and aknowledging the extra graces we never saw coming 10 years ago when we first walked into this house. It also helps to laugh at the tiny little fear demon.
Question of the day: What is the most recent "fear demon" you squished in your life? How did it feel to get through that fear and into a new state?