What My Fear Told Me When I Invited It to Speak

This is the result of some Internal Family Systems therapy I’ve been engaging as I try to understand my anxiety and fear of relationship abandonment in the wake of both divorce and widowhood.

I am a wall, it said, standing around you to keep you strong

I am a whirlwind blowing you away from pain

I am a fog obscuring the truths that are still too much to bear

Thank you, fear. You have done your job so well and for so long. And you have done it because you love me so much.

The wall softened, the whirlwind stilled and the fog grew just slightly less dense. Yes, fear whispered. I am only trying to love you and keep you safe.

Thank you, fear, I said again, tears streaming. I didn’t know your motivation was love.

I am weary, said another part of me, attached so closely to fear I hadn’t even seen it. We’ve already worked so hard and I just want to rest. I don’t know how to rest.

Me too, I said. Me fucking too. We have worked hard. We have met so many hard days and hard things head on. It feels impossible to believe that we might be able to rest now, doesn’t it? That nothing terrible is coming for us, just around the bend.

The fear and the weariness let go a little more when I said this, and moved out of my view into the periphery. We surveyed my internal landscape together.

What do you need from me? How do you want to move forward now that we know these things?

Together, said fear. Then barely audible, don’t leave me behind as you grow. At that terrible whisper, weariness held tight again to its companion fear.

I held out my hands, one to each of them. Together, I affirmed. With love and gratitude. They did not take my hands but agreed to move out of the pit in my stomach, lodging themselves near my left shoulder instead, where we can all look forward. Together.

And now we rest, getting used to this new relationship while we wait to figure out what we need next.

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