Fear Armor

tumblr_mhz3ohFUGc1rcq9lto7_1280.jpgMy guy is currently on his way to learn to paraglide. I couldn't go with him because of a prior engagement so I'm waiting to hear that he is back on the ground. I know he's more likely to die in a car crash than on this contraption in the air today, but many things could go wrong. Most likely they won't, but they could. I'll be anxious, but only in the background. The foreground of my brain will be able to function today. I'm not a puddle of tears or anxiety. Hopefully I won't even get a migraine.

Dave was safety man. Safety first was his motto. He didn't take big risks. He never flirted with danger, ever. He didn't have any desire to chase after adrenaline rushes. I didn't have any cause to worry about him.  Until I did. Nothing could have kept him safe from myocarditis. I had no inkling that I needed to worry about that. So, even if my warning signs were going off now about paragliding, what reason do I have to listen? I had no warning signs back then. Or they were kaput, who knows. There's just no way to know when tragedy is coming.

I had to let Dave go. In a way, on a daily basis, I have to let my current guy go, too. He will fly away, either way, whether it's on a paragliding apparatus or whether it's in his car each day. He'll come home or he won't. It seems like my whole life has been an exercise in letting go.

In my former life I had pulled everything around me as a shield from more bad happening. A little house of our dreams, my job, my garden, my identity...all wrapped around me to keep me safe and anchored. None of it could protect me from tragedy. And as it all was torn from me, as I watched each one fly away, I also watched as I survived. I no longer could wrap myself up in those normalizing things. No longer a wife, no longer a teacher, no longer the owner of that house, no longer a member of that community, no longer any of the identities I'd worn as protection from bad things.

 And yet, I was still me. I still existed. I had to learn to let go. I had to learn to stand among that rubble and find my footing somehow. Those things didn't protect me at all and they can't now, though I still act as though they will.

I used to have this recurring dream when Dave was alive and I haven't had it since. I'd dream that I suddenly became aware that Dave was gone somehow, it was never clear why, and my house was gone. I felt terrible grief and longing and confusion. I could never understand why the things I loved most were gone, replaced by this new house, which wasn't the same, and this new absence of my person who anchored me to the earth. I'd sob in the dream and the anxiety of the loss would crash into me. Then, I'd wake up and there was Dave, next to me in bed. There was the house I'd begun to love like a living being. There was the life I'd so carefully constructed to hold everything together perfectly so I'd never feel like I felt when I was growing up again.

I thought it was an anxiety dream. My biggest fears realized. Now, I wonder if there was another layer to those dreams. It was about identity and self. My self was completely wound up in my husband and our home. I couldn't imagine life any other way and never even allowed myself to consider it. I felt like I'd be nothing without them, as though I simply didn't matter if I wasn't his wife and owner of that house and teacher of those students. I wasn't me, I was wife, teacher, homeowner.

It took that awful dream coming true to find out what would actually happen when they really were taken from me. Turns out I am not those identities. I am me, independent of all the externals I wrap around myself as armor and mask. They aren't permanent, anyway.

So I can carefully construct an externally perfect world, where I have it all together and in place. I see how I'm doing it again. Searching for that next identity and trying to wrap it around me as my protection. It doesn't work. It doesn't keep me safe from bad things and it keeps me trapped. If nothing is up in the air, nothing is changing and there's no growth.

I was so terrified of experiencing more loss and it visited me anyway, no matter what I did. So, when my guy goes paragliding I have to remember that. I can beg  him to stay on the ground and then he could get hit by a car. Or not. It doesn't matter. It will unfold whether I'm prepared or not. He should get to fly in the mean time, and so should I, unencumbered by the fear-armor I wear.

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