Memoir/Personal Essay

Facing Fear Head On

I am taking part in this new project on called 21.5.800. Participants write 800 words per day for the 21 days and do yoga for 5 out of each 7 days. Since I have just begun doing Yoga again after taking a few years off and since I really need to get back to the daily writing routine I seem to never have managed to keep up, I think this is a fabulous project to partake in. For more information visit

I have been reading “Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be” by Lama Surya Das and it has made a lasting impact on my life. One of the most profound life changing sections for me was the section on Chod. Chod is about cutting through our fears. Lama Surya Das gives a list of questions that help you to identify what your most pressing fears are. He says: “Start out with only one fear. You can’t cut through them all at once, so don’t try. Where you find your greatest fears, you’ll find buried treasure deep below within your psyche. When identifying your most pressing fear he says “this large fear is a demon in your life, so you might as well face it and get to know it better.” So I chose to free write to see what my largest fear was and below is what I came up with.

I am afraid that I will never be loved. That I will be alone for the rest of my life. That when I die I will have made no lasting impact on anyone. That this painful life I have lived will have been for nothing, meaningless, useless, worthless. No one will notice that I have died and the funeral home will be empty. I will never have gotten to experience life fully because I was too afraid. Instead I lived in hiding, isolated, too afraid of being hurt. I was too afraid to live. I was closed off, too afraid to let anyone in for fear of being hurt, fear of being rejected, fear of my worthlessness being validated. My biggest fear is to be found, in the end, to be a worthless, useless person; a forgotten, unimportant person; a person the world would have been fine without. That all the pain, hurt, violence, and devastation is all there is, that there was no higher purpose for experiencing it. That it was simply what I deserved. I spend all my time and energy trying to prove to myself and others that I was not at fault for all that has happened to me, that I didn’t deserve all those horrible things.

I often think: Maybe if I was a different person I would be loved. Maybe if I was prettier, blonder, was tanner, didn’t have children, had a job, had money, was skinny, if my skin was flawless, if I was smarter, had a certain college degree, or a better car. I can think of all the reasons I cannot or will not be loved, but I cannot think of one reason why I should be loved. If I am me, assertive, ask for what I want, admit to being flawed, I will be rejected and it will be the ultimate rejection because it will be a rejection of the true me, a validation of my worthlessness. As long as I pretend, people are only rejecting the plastic version of me, the protective coating hiding the real me, the part of me that conforms to whatever they want me to be. This is safe because it is a rejection of my false self. No one – not even me – gets to see the real me – flaws and beauty combined – because of the fear that the rejection of the real me will kill me, will render me completely powerless and my biggest fear will, in the end, come true: The real me under the façade IS worthless and I will die alone, unloved, forgotten, my life having been tortuous for no other reason except that I deserved it because of my worthlessness.

Lama Surya Das says, “Don’t run away from it. Don’t panic. Don’t avoid it. Face your fear. See what is unconsciously driving your habitual compensatory behaviors in an attempt to avoid the worst. Do this and you’ll eventually have a new perspective, more freed-up energy, and a new lease on life.”

So, I faced my fear literally head on and it resulted in the end of a 22 year relationship with my best friend. Several months ago, we had taken our relationship to the next level and when I became assertive and asked for clarification on where our relationship was going and told him what I wanted for the future, he left. So, the HUGE fear that I had about being rejected for being myself, for being assertive, for stating what I wanted came true, but guess what? I am still alive. The world did not come to a screeching halt. I did not die, it did not kill me. Yes, it hurts like hell. We have known each other since we were teenagers. He knows everything about me, knows more about me than I do, but we are headed down different paths, ones that are not compatible with each other. I have been unable to quit crying for these past four days. It just hits me randomly, what I have lost, and I know now that instead of becoming hardened and angry I must embrace the grieving process and then let go.


7 thoughts on “Facing Fear Head On”

  1. that is one of my deepest fears. you described it beautifully, achingly. as i come closer to death sometimes i panic, thinking i should do something amazing, to make my life worthwhile. but then i realize that what’s done is done. i’ve made my life what it is. you are very very brave. i know i don’t know you except what i’ve read here, but i am so very proud of you.

  2. You are brave and full of worth. Don’t be fooled any longer by the negative voices. Listen for the positive ones or create them yourself. Just be you. You are far better off without someone who cannot walk into the future holding your hand and walking with you instead of holding you back. You go, girl!!!

  3. You are so brave…just taking that first step is a giant move toward your discovering your self worth. Don’t listen to those who would drag you down…they are just jealous of you. Now you have taken that first step, the next one will be easier. Sure it hurts, but it’s a worthwhile pain and it will pass. I know you can do it because you are a worthy human being.


  4. Sarah,
    Thanks so much for sharing your journey of loss and grief. My heart goes out to you in your letting go. Change, especially this kind of change, is painful. May you find your journey opening up to healthy, whole, new, and exciting prospects for your future and your dreams.

    Be refreshed,

  5. my question to you is what makes you think all this? that you fear all of this yet you can sit here and write this beautiful blog, create words for people to understand and not see that you are important enough for someone to stop and read it? think about that.
    if just one person a day pays attention, then you are special and made an impact. believe me…i know.

  6. I think you view yourself too negatively. You are a brilliant writer, obviously a good, caring and loving mother. Don’t let all the negativity bring you down. This will be a difficult period of transition for you but I think you have already faced far worse in your life. Go for it!

  7. You are truly an amazing person and just so out there with your writing and what it expresses. Listen to the positive and let go of the past (:

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