On the Other Side of Fear There is…

by P. Braithwaite

So I was hanging out with my cousin and her newborn son, BOB, when my cousin needed to run an errand. She asked me to watch over him. Now I should mention that Bob is premature. He was supposed to be born on Christmas, but decided to arrive on Halloween (homie loves a good holiday). As a result, he seems small and breakable.

I’m really not good with breakables.
I’ve destroyed almost every iPhone I’ve ever owned.

My cousin gave me instructions (“If he cries a little bit, give him his pacifier. If he cries a lot, warm the bottle. If he REALLY cries give me a call and I’ll come home”). As soooon as she walked out of the door, Bob started to whimper. Then he started to cry. Then, he used his little arms and neck to wiggle his way upright and flail from side to side. I shit you not, I thought the kid was going to jump out of his bassinet and run.

I picked him up and he gripped my sweater (he’s got sharp nails). He wailed. He kicked his legs. I gave him his pacifier – he spit it out. I warmed the bottle — he  threw the bottle accross the room moved his head from side to side. The entire time my voice was trying to comfort him, my arms were moving frantically to warm bottles and follow instructions (all while he was in my arms), but in my head I was saying: He knows. He effing knows. The kid knows I’m useless. He knows that if ‘shit hits the fan’ he’s gonna be a goner.

Right after I called my cousin in a controlled panic (“Keeks, he won’t stop crying and he doesn’t want to eat”), I heard a rumble in Bob’s little belly. He was kicking his legs and straining his face. I knew the look on his face well: Bob was constipated! Bob had gas!

And so I did what I do best: I told him stories about my own personal struggles with gas and constipation so he wouldn’t feel so alone. I walked him up and down my cousin’s hardwood floors and rubbed his back. When my cousin came home (she was only gone like 15 minutes), she found a quiet baby and a calm Patia. She chatted with me for a second, got settlend, and when finally took her baby into her arms…I burst into tears. I was inconsolable.

I just didn’t want to kill him, I wailed.

I just didn’t want to hurt him.

I had all of this fear: fear that I wasn’t good enough; fear that I couldn’t take care of anyone; fear that I’d kill my newborn cousin. I’d been waiting my whole life for a newborn Bob to love, and here I was terrified I’d kill him. But underneath the fear, there was this overwhelming love. There was this desire to protect this kid, and love this kid and cherish him forever…when my tears dried and my cousin informed me that she would trust me watch her son again, I finally felt in touch with an indescribable love for Bob. Intellectually, I knew I loved the kid, but when I stopped crying and calmed down, I felt the love in the center of my chest. I was in touch with my feelings in this incredible way. I actually can’t wait to watch him again…

It’s funny, we spend our life trying to keep fear at arms-length, pretending it doesn’t exist, or trying to conquer fear like it’s our greatest adversary. But what if Fear is just Love’s ego. What if behind every single one of our fears, there is an energy of love just waiting to fill up the hallow space that fear carves out? If we all took a  second to step into our fears, I bet we’d find a wild love that lights up the whole world. Behind the fear of rejection and vulnerability there’s a love so accepting it heals everyone it touches; beyond the fear of death, there’s an intense love and reverence for life.

So how do we get to the love?

I’m a huge fan of self-reflection: writing letters to fear or meditating on the feeling, but the most important tactic for understanding fear is to jump out and swim with it — to open your eyes, look fear in the face and do what scares the shit out of you. In swimming with fear… in the getting pulled under by the currents of fear and allowing yourself to drown a bit, you find fear that you can swim better than you think. Fear isn’t the truth — its just love. It’s always about the love. No matter what your fear — rejection, vunlerability, being hurt, killing babies — there is the overwhelming desire to be the highest expression of yourself. The overwhelming desire to live as you truley are. The fear that you can’t do it? That’s just love wearing a Halloween costume.

What’s scaring the shit out of you today? Go do that…immediately.