That Hollowed Out Place Called Fear…

HollowFear

It is roughly in the area of the solar plexus that I feel it, between my breasts and just a little lower. It quivers and won’t quiet down. It makes breathing difficult and makes me teary. It rolls in like waves to the shore. It is fear rising.

What I am distinctly aware of as I write this piece is that we are not supposed to feel fear, metaphysically we bring more negativity to us when we allow space for it, but for me I live with it like a soft animal that rises up and paws the air and won’t stop until I turn my attention to it. I have to acknowledge it, and take care of it. I have to embrace it and show it love and tenderness. That is not easy to do, not on a night like this, and when I say embrace it I don’t mean hang onto it. Embrace it, and let it go.

I could tell you what I am afraid about right now but it is simply part of a laundry list of things that changes and I am trying to see my way clear of living in this place. I am trying to come to this hollow place and face it directly. I am trying to understand why it seems to be part of my makeup, this slipping into this vast crevasse that feels as if it has no bottom and will never end. It is the blunt end of anxiety and it aims to swallow me whole. I will not let it.

Fear has come again. She is walking through the room and straight into me like a ghost but she doesn’t go straight through, she nestles inside me like an egg going back into the shell. She fits perfectly in this hollowed out place in my chest cavity but weighs nothing at all. She can breeze right through some days and at other times she just sits. I want to be rid of my fear.

I have been doing well. The holidays were lovely, but just before Christmas I got some hard news. And the hard news colored what should have been something very exciting a dark shade of grey. And I closed the door on it, led the fear by the hand out of my body and said, “Not during Christmas.” I pretended that it didn’t exist. It has to do with my security, this physical space where I live, and changes being made, and planned changes falling through, and new plans in the works that may or may not happen.

It has to do with uncertainty. I am not alone in my fear of uncertainty, but reminding myself of that isn’t a big help.

If I do not absolutely know what is going to happen every single minute the uncertainty might eat me alive. Isn’t that perfectly ridiculous? Life is uncertainty. To be afraid of uncertainty is to be afraid of life. This nonsense has to stop.

Is it part of being bipolar? I have a hard time understanding where bipolar stops and being human starts. It’s easy, when you have a basket of mental health diagnoses, the star of the group being bipolar disorder, which seems to be all the rage these days, to blame everything that happens — or doesn’t — on the diagnoses themselves, and to imagine that if we weren’t, say, bipolar, or didn’t have PTSD — which kept me awake off and on all night last night — or this anxiety dis-order which makes a muck and a muddle of things, life might be hunky dorey, as if other humans walking around who aren’t diagnosed with one of these things don’t feel the hard things that we feel sometimes. It would be easier if other people didn’t get, say, anxious, because then it would be clear cut. I am _________ so I will take this pill and go to therapy and get it all sorted out, like taking a car into the shop. It doesn’t work that way. And does it matter if the human side of me or the bipolar side is anxious? No. Right now I am trying to face down a Friday night without falling off the edge of a cliff into the hollow. That’s all I need to know.

If you have stayed with me this far then I thank you and understand that you, too, likely suffer from this hungry ghost as well and perhaps even on this night when I am struggling you are struggling too. I’m sorry. I wish I had an answer for you. I wish I had one for me. I’m afraid, and I want it to go away.

It has been a rainy day, a perfect backdrop for this blog post, with wind howling through the trees and around the corners of the house. It threatens to catch me up in it when I go outside with the dogs in the breaks in the rain, and pushes me hither and yon. I cling to the railing and coax the dogs to do their business and hurry back inside. Fear is in the wind.

I’m not certain why I wrote this blog post but I had to. It was one of those nights when I felt that if I wrote it I might understand it, or get a handle on it, or perhaps even help someone else who was struggling. If nothing else I can lace my fingers through the syllables on the page and hold on tight. If I go down I will pull letters right out of words and off the screen. I won’t go down without a fight.

I’m sorry about this grey post. I think the next one will have more life, more color, more breath, but if I need to I will write about these things again, because hiding them, or denying them makes it worse. I am stroking the soft animal inside me and coaxing her out. If I can close up the gap tonight I might be able to sleep. I need to sleep. I am searching for a quiet peace to fill the space. I want to send the hungry ghost away. If I can just sleep tonight I will have the strength to close the gap for another day.

MaitriSz4.4.16.09

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Comments

  1. Fear you are not welcome here…leave now! Sending love and strength to you. Cuddle the puggies and have some lovely tea. You will be joyous and creative again 🙂

    • Thank you Lisa honey, you are very dear and I appreciate your kind words and thoughts. This too shall pass. It always does….

      Love,

      Maitri

  2. Roberta Jones says:

    I was told once that a common saying among the Eskimos (First Nation peoples) is, “Fear means that you need to change something.”

    It can be as simple as kicking a can that was in your way to the other side of the street. (For me, that change normally means doing something I was avoiding: paying that bill, doing that overdue bit of work, making that phone call. I always find that when I have things “piled up” I wake from a fitful sleep to find that I have entered the Land of Overwhelm. The Land of Overwhelm and the Land of Fear are next-door neighbours, and there is no fence between them. Just a nasty ravine leading you to tumble from one to the other. . . .)

    So I look for what change I can do, to get me out of Fear’s back garden. If I am inside, do I need to go outside, even if just to stand on the porch? Do I need to go take a shower, so the water droplets can cry instead of me for a while? Do I need to call a friend even though I am afraid to be a bother? Do I need maybe just to put some favourite music on and sing, so that the voices I hear and the scenarios I imagine are drowned out just a bit? How can I get just a tiny fistful of ease and control?

    Find a can, dear Maitri, and kick that sucker to the other side of the street!

    Roberta.

    • Roberta,

      Thank you so much, what an absolutely wonderful comment. I will think long about this and look for the can to kick to the other side of the street. Your wisdom will carry me far…

      Thank you so much dearheart.

      Love,

      Maitri

  3. Sending love and calmness your way. Maybe everyone has a certain level of anxiety, it’s just that ours is deeper, more disturbing, more pervasive, more frequent. This sounds so simplistic, but when I know what I’m feeling anxious about (not having enough money be able to pay my bills or worrying that I will be alone forever) I tell myself, “I am okay in this moment.” And that is true and somehow it helps me retreat from the place in the future I’ve gone to worry about and slip back into myself right now. Maybe this can help you, too. Thank you for writing about it. I love the big-breasted woman in the picture. And even though you said the blog was gloomy, I kept seeing the lovely cherry blossoms on the edges of the web page!

    P.S. How do you do that cool thing on the right of your page where it shows who’s been reading what. That is so neat!

    • Jenni,

      Thank you so much honey and you are right, when I bring myself back to the present moment it helps a lot. The widget you are referring to comes from Feedjit, you sign up on their site and get the code to put it on yours. Hope that helps!

      Blessings and love,

      Maitri

  4. (((Maitri)))…
    Sending you love and understanding in this pain and fear filled time… You are wonderful and amazing in your ‘you ness,’ and I have never said that about another woman before in my life. You make me want to create and to get to the bottom of my own psych illness-es. In no way are you acting crazy or fearful of any of this. It is so much more than you to let this get you down. But if and when it does, I understand! Believe me…. Sending ❤️ and kisses and pug a licious teas and crumpets! Xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox ?

    • Thank you so much Katie honey and your kind words mean the world to me, I appreciate them more than I can say. And the very best to you on your own journey through the maze of mental health issues, it is quite a journey isn’t it?

      The pug send their love! <3

      Maitri

  5. the dark woman graphic is awesome. you are so talented maitri. so sensitive, so talented, so courageous, so honest, so, yes, human. i wish there were a mantra that would catapult you out of your fear into serenity. my god, then you could bottle it and never worry about money again. for now, though, your being a writer is as good a cure as any, and you’re not afraid to be a writer, you give us a gift with each stroke of the pen.

    xo
    ka

    • Thank you so much Ka and yes, writing is my saving grace. If I can write about it I can get a handle on it. I felt much better after I wrote this piece and got it up. The pen is mightier than the sword and this one that cuts so deep.

      Be well dear sister…

      Maitri

  6. Paula Brown says:

    Oh sweet friend, I’m sending hugs and assure you that it WILL get better. Fear of the unknown is probably the worst kind of fear. You can’t plan for it, you can’t prepare for it, sometimes you have no idea what it is. Just know that you are loved exactly how you are and we are here for you. You have my number. You are always welcome to call. I can say that things are very much better for me. More about that some other time. this is about you. Never forget that you are so loved by so many. xoxoxoxo

    • Oh Darling Paula,

      Thank you so much honey, you are so dear, and I am so happy that you are feeling better, I was concerned about you. And you are loved as well dear friend.

      Take care dearheart…

      Maitri

  7. Much of what you’ve written resonates with me. Particularly where does bipolar end and human-ness begin. I’m not sure we can make that delineation. I think our humanness entwines itself with our bipolar, our anxiety, fears, PTSD. Because humanness means vulnerability. Thank you for writing so honestly. I believe that writing can be a kind of cathartic exercise – to get out the messy and confusing. It’s beautiful because it’s you.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment Roxanne, and yes, it is hard to see that line, perhaps impossible, so we just keep on keeping on and hold on when we must and move forward any way we can. And yes writing is incredibly cathartic. I taught journal classes for 40 years and it’s the best therapy I know.

      Best and blessings to you,

      Maitri

  8. Susan Phelps says:

    Dearest Maitri,
    You are not alone in this world! Those of us who consider you a true friend, who always speaks honestly from her heart, are always here to listen and share.
    In my battle with anxiety and its underlying depression, I have wanted so much fir my “old self” to come back. And while the medication I take for depression has helped so much, I realize that the old me doesn’t exist anymore. I have changed so much in the last 15 years.
    I now understand that my fear of not knowing what’s just ahead for me, so that I can be prepared, was a way for me to avoid discomfort and pain. But to avoid these feelings is not to live fully. And facing our fears, as you’re doing tonight, makes us growing, ever evolving beings.
    Remember, you are loved and you are brave even when you don’t feel so.

    Susan

    • Susan thank you so much love, I really appreciate it. And this battle wages on and we must meet it as true spirit warriors. I try daily, and I have my self care practices and mostly they help and then I hit bumps in the road like yesterday. But as you say to avoid them all would not be to live fully and to be fully human is the goal for all of us I think. So onwards and upwards and away we go.

      Best and blessings to you dearheart on your journey. May it be as gentle as possible…

      Maitri

  9. She is the goddess with fire in her eyes, daggers in her hands, death in her eyes. I’m not bi-polar, but I know her well. You write of her so eloquently, which lets all of us deal with our own fear.

    • Thank you Cathryn dearheart,

      Writing is the thing that helps me deal with it all, when I can come to a place of writing. Sometimes I can’t, but in the hardest times I make myself sit with it until I can and things run clearer and lighter after that. May that goddess look the other way, and give us peace…

      Love,

      Maitri

  10. Thank you for this post, Maitri. You describe those feelings so well.

    I know that soft paw of fear, sometimes when there’s really nothing to fear, aside from uncertainty and an unknown destination. And it can come whether at home, or traveling, in guises large and small. Reminding myself of Rumi’s poem about welcoming all of them in – the fears, worries, and fresh air (you’ll know this poem, I know) is always a comfort, when I remember it…

    • Thank you Lisa honey for taking me back to Rumi and reminding me that it can come in many guises, and I add when recognized its power can lessen. Travel well this month, I believe you said you were going away. Enjoy!

      Maitri

  11. I hear you so close, like you’re sitting beside me. And all those human feelings are inside and outside us.
    You made me remember a long evening with a friend. So long ago. He was a young man then, and I was young too. Both students, making music for hours and facing up to life after the security of university.
    We talked about what one of our professors said that day: “each feeling of a person who has a diagnosis is a true feeling of ourselves when we dare to look inside.”We realized that often it’s the name we give it that makes the difference, the name and the courage to feel it.
    My friend went to America and what stayed was the therapeutic approach of renaming feelings into something people could handle.
    I’ve become a person who aims towards problem solving. Maybe because of that.
    Fear has been an emotion I’ve felt so often because others wanted me to experience fear, that I almost immediately when I realize I’m fearful think: who makes me feel this restlessness? And why?
    It’s the first step towards solving it… sometimes by finding an answer, sometimes by diverting my attention and sometimes by leaving that irritation to die down, like a candle that is almost gone. Fear fades away and becomes the unknown, and because of that it has lost it’s grip on me. All that counts is the moment of now, and that’s all I know…that moment.
    Experiencing life the way you do is so intense, and such a beautiful guide for others.

    Huggggsss

    • Laane,

      How lovely to read your post here today. Thank you so much for stopping in and sharing your thoughts, and I appreciate your kind comments so much. Very thought provoking too. I will think about what you’ve written for a long time.

      I hope you are well. Blessings to you dearheart…

      Maitri

  12. A very moving and candid piece, Maitri. Brave and loving of you to share it. You make me think of something Cheryl Strayed wrote in her little gem, Brave Enough: “Hello, fear. Thank you for being here. You’re my indication that I’m doing what I need to do.”

    • Thank you dear Cathryn, and I’m honored because I love Cheryl Strayed, she’s fabulous. And isn’t that just right, it truly is an indication that you’re doing what you need to do.

      I hope your wonderful work is going well. Best to you dearheart…

      Love,

      Maitri

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