Cringing beneath a twin size pink Barbie comforter; a must have from my Christmas list two years prior, I lay. The yelling and crying coming from the adjacent bedroom was muffled, yet the hurt penetrated far beyond the canary yellow plaster filled walls. In the aftermath – a scared, confused six year old little girl left wondering why this comforter could keep out the bitter cold of winter and horrific middle of the night monsters but not the distinct sounds of hurt and pain. A piercing sound I never wanted to hear again. At that moment, subconsciously, I vowed to never allow this thing called hurt to infiltrate my heart – this was an all out war for which I was unprepared. A seemingly innocent child like vow gave birth to an undying bond with ramifications lasting well into my adulthood.
Without any huge fanfare or introduction, she quietly entered my life. She -full of a confidence and sway; announced silently with every step that she had not a care in the world. Unmoved by life’s circumstances and silly feelings for which she had no need, she was untouchable. Embodying everything I wanted to be. Inseparable we became, our lives so perfectly intertwined; without a clear distinction of where I ended and she began. True to my vow, with fervor I watched, I learned, I studied her every move; her style; her grace, in a futile attempt not to care. Without a doubt I knew my prayer for the inability to feel had finally been answered. With my new found best friend by my side, she and I – her and me – on one accord; I was ready to conquer the world.
Our carefree thirty year journey began with occasions of casual fun, moments of fleeting joy, and above all an indescribable freedom from the burdensome weight of care and concern; leaving in our wake a slew of broken, damaged relationships and countless persons I’d sacrificed in my quest for survival -“Simple casualties of war”, my friend often nonchalantly reminded me. In true soldier fashion, I marched on taking no prisoners; while my final destination of darkness and despair patiently awaited my arrival. Although I’d perfected the art of not allowing anyone or anything to advance beyond the perimeter, with the purposeful hollow look in my eyes, the intentional unavailability in my voice, I was none the wiser.
Eventually, the battle began to takes its toll. No matter how many times she reaffirmed to me and I to myself the critical nature of our mission, the ends justifying the means didn’t ring true for me anymore. Years of indifference, years of masquerading, years of intense internal warfare began to weaken me and it became increasingly more and more difficult to turn a blind eye to the bloodshed on my hands, to disregard the pain I’d inflicted, to ignore the realization that I’d accomplished my mission. I’d made it through alone and unscathed or so I thought.
During the calm quiet of night, I heard an all too familiar sound. A piercing sound I’d fought to avoid most of my life. Frantically, I searched to find where this noise was coming from, when it hit me like a ton of bricks.The piercing sound was coming from deep within. From the depths of my soul, a lifetime of emotional turmoil had found its voice and began to cry out. This time the sound wasn’t muffled at all. Clearly, I heard. Excruciating pain, I felt. Finally, I had arrived at my destination. One by one, I remembered the anguished faces of all those I’d bruised with my casual encounters. I felt the pain of the many I’d wounded with my reckless behavior. I recounted the love ones I’d selfishly denied entry into the innermost space in my heart. Lastly, the one that had been damaged and denied the most was the final face I saw. Helplessly, I saw the sadness in my eyes. I saw the loneliness in my heart. I saw the brokenness of my spirit. I saw the desolation of my soul. I saw the absence of hope. When out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of her – my best friend. Strangely, this time when I looked at her, I became afraid. “Lord, help me”; I whispered as I tried to make sense of it all. Suddenly, the need to ask her one simple question overwhelmed me. What is your name, I asked quizzically? How bizarre, I thought as I heard the question. Thirty plus years and I’d never asked her name. Reluctantly, she turned in my direction, lifted her head and said. “Fear! Fear is my name”.
“You need me”, she smugly continued. “Without me you would’ve been foolish enough to believe you could overcome any obstacles, but because of me you were too afraid to fight. Without me you would’ve eventually had a desire for something more, something better but because of me you were too afraid to hope. Without me you would’ve thought you were courageous enough to face the possibility of failure but because of me you were too afraid to try. Without me you would’ve imagined a life with purpose and meaning but because of me you were too afraid to dream. From the day, I entered your life; my only agenda was to protect you. Can you imagine your life without me? If I would have allowed you to believe any of those things, I couldn’t guarantee that you wouldn’t fail. I couldn’t guarantee that you wouldn’t know disappointment. I couldn’t guarantee that you wouldn’t feel hurt”. “You’re too afraid to leave me, too weak”, she screamed!
With pity, I looked at her knowing this one major miscalculation would be her demise. She had neglected to factor into her equation; the power of the love of God. A perfect love that cast out fear; a love that shined brightly in the darkest recesses of my heart and shed light on who she really was, what she really represented. As afraid as I was to let her go, somehow I knew the quality of my life depended on it. As the tears began to well in my eyes, at that moment, I decided to believe God. I was willing to exchange the familiar for the unknown. I was radical enough to believe I could live without being controlled by fear. I was crazy enough to accept the love of God. I looked at her one last time, and whispered a final goodbye.