Wandering the savage garden…

Fear, from a writing prompt

Today’s topic is “fear.” It’s another writing prompt day, because it’s Valentine’s Day in the United States and I have other things about which to be.

Reading the closing part of that last sentence makes me grimace.

Fear… I’m supposed to write about my fear, and what I plan to do about it.

My fear is about being seen.

I’m attention-averse, for a lot of reasons. I’m a fairly intense introvert, for one thing; I can’t prevent myself from writing (although I might not preserve what I write, which is one of the things the five hundred words challenge is changing for me), but I hardly ever want to talk to people. My interactions are always layered, with probably the worst layers being instant-messaging apps.

I find I’m most comfortable being asynchronous characters on someone’s screen somewhere.

I hide my emotions, which would surprise people who know me moderately well. They see pockets of emotion, often over silly things, and think that’s the depth at which I live.

I grimaced a lot less over that last sentence.

The truth, however, is that I do hide my emotion. I choose to show emotion in specific ways, because I don’t want to be seen as an automaton. I’m not a robot, after all; my emotions are actually intense and very deep (and very strong), and I’m rather mercurial, internally. My showing of emotion would not only be unnatural for me (as an introvert) but scary for the people around me, I think.

They’d prefer the stiff upper lip. They’d want the occasionally silly robot man. They’d want the creepy observer, instead of the angry idealist who cajoles them to be better, who expresses his frustration at inefficiency and doubt and sloth.

It’s crippling and angering for me to be this way. Yes, I make myself angry by being something that I think makes me more palatable for the people around me.

Why? Because it forces me into the same patterns I resent in other people. I hold myself back, I become lazy, because not being lazy on my own terms means I never, ever, ever stop.

I’d get a lot done. And the people around me would feel isolated and judged. (I have experience being me; it’s true, and it’s happened.)

So I shift down in my own life, and I slow down, and I watch the sands of my life’s hourglass fall, and fall, and fall, all as a service to the self-images of others.

And I’m afraid to change it, because it’s a delicate balance that I preserve between who I am and the life I’m in. I love the people around me, intensely. I don’t want to upset the balances of their lives, if they are happy.

What’s worse than being afraid to change it is the lack of knowledge of how to change it. How do I open my heart and life in such a way that the people around me aren’t swept away by the fury and energy I shutter away?

I don’t know. I may never know.

If I had a prayer about fear, it would be this: that God would show me a way that I could see would be safe for those around me, for me to be myself, without filters and restraint. And that I’d still be loved through it all.

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