Fear and Love: Thoughts on a New Year

“There are two motivating forces: ‘fear or love.” – John Lennon

The fear-or-love idea always puzzled me because we’re often told that we can’t have both, so we need to choose between them. How are those two feelings opposites, and why the hell can’t I feel fear and love simultaneously? I’m a big girl. I can multitask. I can think all kinds of soppy, romance-ridden thoughts andsob in terror at the thought of losing him.

Can’t I?

Apparently not.

Apparently John Lennon was right.

I have an abandonment complex. It’s a maladjustment that’s often classified as a phobia. God knows it generates as much panic. I hate blaming my past for today’s psychological debt, but here I go anyway. I was repeatedly rejected by my dad as a kid. He was in and out of my life like a jack-in-the-box. My mother was emotionally absent: she had enough hatred and cruelty to start a cult. By the time I hit seven I’d already learned that loved ones disappear. I never quite managed to unlearn that lesson.

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The problem with getting past fear of losing a partner is that most romantic relationships end, so there’s no rational alternative reality to help you get past the fear. There is a cogent reason to, though: fear and love cannot coexist. If you let fear be, you have to kick love to the curb.

Fear pushes loved ones away in case of future loss. It’s like not eating that perfectly-ripe berry because one day it will rot. The fact that it will be inedible next week doesn’t make it any less delicious today, and so it is with love.

Fear rejects before it’s rejected. It creates enough negativity to eat away at even the most beautiful love story. It tells you that you’re never safe. Insecurity always follows. Fear doesn’t believe him when he says, “I love you,” so it withdraws, and that’s how you force loss that might never have happened if you’d overcome your phobia.

Experiencing loss as a result of fearing loss strikes me as pure idiocy.

There is a happy ending to this story: You don’t have to get rid of fear to keep it from destroying your relationship. Being courageous doesn’t require you to quash your fear. It just requires you to stop acting on it. In 2016, that’s precisely what I intend to do.

“Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon

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