Encouragement She Opens Her Mouth

When Fear Feels Like Home

This week, I’m sharing a post written by my blogger friend, Tiffany Perkins, a Nashville-based content creator, event planner, digital marketer and founder of The Nashville Blogging Collective. Tiffany was one of the first people I asked to contribute to my series #SheOpensHerMouth and I think you’ll know why if you keep reading. She’s bomb and I love what she shares.

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When Fear Feels Like Home, Tiffany Perkins

I’m pretty sure I was well into adulthood before I realized that my whole life had been shaped by fear. Like many, as a child, fear for me had no nuance.

When I was small my mother used to take us to see horror movies with her and my aunts. I remember that I loved going because it made me feel like a  grown up. My younger cousins would go as well and once the lights would dim my mom would lean over and say to us, “let me know when you’re scared and I will take you out.” The credits would roll, the movie would begin, and before anything really got good my cousin would proclaim “I’m scared now” with both hands over her eyes demanding to be taken out of the theatre.

Everyone made such a fuss about having to miss the movie on account of my cousin, and eventually, no more kids got to go to those movies except for me and my older sister because we could handle it. I remember feeling proud sitting tall in my seat at the movies with the grown up. I also remember feeling tense and anxious thinking of the terror that would ensue on Elm St. I would never say a word though. There was no way in hell I was going to be one of the scaredy cats who had to stay at home while everyone else went to the movies. Even if it meant frequent nightmares, sneaking in bed with my sister, and refusing to go anywhere near a closed toilet seat (Yeah, Candy Man, you really traumatized the kid).

This fear I knew by name. I could recognize it’s feeling creeping up my back and forming goosebumps on my arms. I knew the knots it tied in my stomach and the speed it added to my otherwise resting heartbeat. This fear wore no mask.

The other fear, however, was way harder to identify. This immensely nuanced fear was covered up in parenthood and cloaked in discipline. It was so intertwined with my everyday life that for years it was virtually unrecognizable. “Don’t talk back”, “because I said so”, “don’t let me tell you again”, and “I’ll give you something to cry about” were the interludes on the soundtrack of my childhood. And, as any great record played on repeat, eventually, the lyrics become etched in my brain and easily identified with no effort or cognizance.

In its efforts to teach me respect and guide my insight of right and wrong this fear also built a wall around me.

“Don’t talk back” and “because I said so” kept me from questioning and correcting out of respect for elders and people in higher positions. “Don’t let me tell you again” created a sense of urgency in other people’s needs that often didn’t allow me to process my emotions and make my own decision. “I’ll give you something to cry about” lent itself to bottled up emotions and constantly pretending to be ok.

I was primed and conditioned in this fear. It was both my textbook and my bible.

When I first started writing this piece my intention was to tell a story of triumph. Like many writers, I wanted to use my story to transform you as a reader and give you the encouragement you needed to start unlearning negative things that were drilled into you as a child. As I wrote those words and started telling that story I realized the very essence of that was saturated in fear.

My journey is no heroes tale. Though overcoming my childhood fears is a more digestible conversation telling that story is cowardice. I could easily pretend that I live fearlessly and do everything out of light, but if I”m being honest with myself, and with you, I am still afraid.

It’s ingrained in me.

And, although I’m well aware that fear holds me back in a lot of ways that I wish it wouldn’t, sometimes fear feels like home.

If my story is about anything it’s about trying, not triumph. I live with fear every day. I accept that. What I’ve chosen not to accept, however, is allowing fear to hold me back. What I know for sure is that I’m passionate and my life has a purpose. The light can be just as frightening as the darkness sometimes, but no matter what I choose to keep my face always toward the sunshine.

I'm Mariah. Jesus is my homie. I live in (and was raised in) the south. I am, as often as possible, actively grateful for my family because I understand their life giving power. Really dislike melodramatics. Really love reading and writing so much so that I aspire to be an author. What else?

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