my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?

2.03.2007

Not About Politics. Or Product.

I need to write something that isn't political and doesn't have anything to do with a product.

How about fear? The nature of fear.

In my twenties and thirties, I was a risk-taking bundle of oblivious need. I was adventurous, I drove fast, I imbibed and sampled wildly. (Make of that ambiguity what you will.) I was ambitious, selfish, a profligate mistress of the credit card culture stockpiling clothes, makeup, jewelry.

I slid into my forties still blind to most of what went on around me, except that I was able to isolate something was wrong: I was empty. And the pain of that emptiness compelled me into long, deep, serious and seriously expensive psychotherapy.

But even with the painful process of looking hard at everything I'd done and hadn't done, I was still somehow numb. Nothing really touched me. I walked ghostlike through life, still not knowing or caring about what I had, what it was worth and how close we always are to losing it. (There is actually a Buddhist term, "empty ghost." It refers to a constant craving, the inability to ever find satisfaction, to always need, need, need.)

And then a series of events shook me awake: loss of a child, a spinal fusion, divorce, job loss, financial problems. If there was a negative life event I missed in that list, let me know. If I hadn't needed therapy before, I sure needed it then.

So my forties were rough. Terribly, terribly rough. And I learned what it is to lose, I learned all the colors of loss.

Seven years later, my life is pretty much rebuilt. I don't want to elaborate about how much I have, how rich I am in so many ways. And I don't want to speak of what I went through to regain equilibrium. I don't want to tempt fate, attract the attention of the gods; I want to travel below the radar. And, please, please don't let me do anything to cause me to lose the way I have lost before.

This is my current neurotic struggle. I am unreasonably afraid of losing my love, my livelihood, my beautiful things, my dog, my home. Anything that matters to me is at risk.

I'm pretty sure there are others afflicted by fear of loss. I know my mother was like this, having had a tough, Depression-era childhood marked by more sadness than I'll ever know. But now I know something about the nature of her fear; I share it.

Most of the time, I can hide it. It usually manifests most when I am excessively tired, too stressed, unable to sleep. Then it slams me.

Somehow I have to buy distance on this. I have to understand, at this stage of life, that the biggest loss of all, after all, is just around the corner. And that it might not be loss at all.

Everything I love, everything we are and have, is evolving, transient illusion. Soon enough, it will all be gone, with or without my attempts to shield, hoard, protect, forestall.

I need to acknowledge this with grace. And understand the grace of it. And stop fighting. And be able to sleep.

4 Comments:

Blogger WinterWheat said...

Touching, poignant description of samsara... not much else to say except I feel sad to know how much you've suffered, and hope you find peace. {{{{{{{M}}}}}}}

7:19 AM

 
Blogger Logophile said...

Just the other day, when my seven year old (Thing Two) was feeling ill and was napping against me on the couch I noticed again with fresh eyes how fragile we humans are.
That fear of loss is not present with me often, but there are times when it approached and niggles at my consciousness and I try to remember that, lest I take too much for granted the blessings I enjoy.

10:46 PM

 
Blogger Parisjasmal said...

Wow. Great post!
I have a huge fear of loss too. I think I fear losing control of my life. Fear that any peace or happiness I have is not really earned and that next time I turn around it will all be gone. I never feel that I deserve good things, that anything worthwhile I do is really no big deal. I downplay every achievement I have. I rarely tell anyone when something wonderful happens to me.
This affects me in every aspect of my life. I sometimes isloate, I have a hard time sleeping, I cannot deal with conflict very well- ETC.
I am sorry you had to deal with so much loss, and I am happy you are feeling whole again.
Thanks for such a thought provoking post.

6:14 AM

 
Blogger Doug said...

I bet the buddhists have a term for this, too. The thing is, I know you nurture what you have. Tending to what's temporary is glorious.

1:46 PM

 

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