“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” Japanese Proverb

During addiction my biggest fear was getting caught. Secrecy and lying was paramount to keeping my addict alive so I could get to my next high. The stresses and fears of my double life were brought to the surface and manifested themselves in many ways: health issues, nightmares, escapist behaviours such as procrastination, indecision or the tendency to leap into or out of situations without a plan just to get the whole thing over with.

After hitting bottom and coming into recovery, I soon began facing all the fears I had suppressed and medicated through acting out. My Addict’s survival skills  were now becoming core survival fears.

What if I continue to hurt myself or the people I love?

How will I live with myself if I make the wrong choices and relapse?

Where do I get the skills to deal with the confusion and seemingly overwhelming process of recovery?

Will I make it through today?

These and other questions could have paralyzed me and kept me lingering in a stagnant situation or painful condition. I learned that change is scary, but necessary. If I wanted to be healthy I had to embrace the transformation from addictive, compulsive, obsessive behavior to a manner of living filled with honesty, integrity and trustworthiness. But how?

The biggest fear I had to face was myself. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t come to terms with who I had become. I couldn’t accept the damage I had done to others and myself. I couldn’t forgive myself. I was afraid of pain and feared the unknown. I feared change.

The answer was SAA of course. Under the guidance of my Sponsor I have slowly faced my fears one day or one moment at a time. Sometimes with some hand-holding and often with tears but always with gentleness and compassion. That’s how the 12 Steps work.

Fear is still present in my life, but as I develop my self-esteem and put more trust in my Higher Power it becomes more apparent that I truly have nothing to fear. I’m only limited by my willingness to change.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

9 thoughts on “Fear

  1. What I have feared most in my life and the reason I isolated myself in my addiction was ,my emotions. I delved down deep in my addiction to avoid having any emotion. I was void of emotion. Now as I continue on my journey through recovery and sobriety, I’m not as afraid anymore. I don’t have to hide from my emotions but I can embrace them, learn from them, feel them, experience them, and question them.
    The bottom line is, I can use the fear to slingshot myself forward and not let it weigh me down……

  2. FEAR ……. The enemy of Faith….

    Fear has gripped me throughout my childhood into my addiction. At times, FEAR likes to hang out with me and come into my heart uninvited. For years I have been a slave to this force that has kept so many addicts like myself from ever recovering into a fruitful and productive life of freedom through recovery. I recall the day I had to disclose to my wife the exact nature of my addiction and the fear that turned my stomach was unbearable.

    The reality is that for so many years I feared others snitching or telling my secrets (thus being the reason I had never really disclosed to another person how bad I was sinking in my addiction), now was my biggest mountain to climb when I had to tell my own secrets. I now know after being in recovery for almost 1 year, that everyday I have a choice to walk in fear or to trust in my God, who graciously reminds from the Holy Scriptures: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 2:7).

    Today I can actually believe that because even in my so called faith, I was fearful that even my higher power would disapprove of me (as If He didn’t know how bad my acting out was) because of the many times I promised to change but only progressed in the addiction.

    Like we always hear, it’s progress not perfection, therefore I know at times those old tapes of fear and discouragement will want to play. Yet I also know that I have my God, my recovery, my wife, an effective sponsor, the fellowship of the SAA Group, my church and a community of people and friends who love me. So today I have nothing to FEAR.

  3. Where does fear come from anyway? I always thought it came from outside of myself – there are plenty of external things to fear – other people hurting us, accidents, sickness, the economy, criminals, our retirement, our kids – there is always something “out there” to make us afraid. But I now think that fear comes from INSIDE, from the stories we make up about how dangerous life is. But are the stories true?! I believe that it comes from the fear that we’re not “good enough” – to really take care of ourselves, not smart enough, not strong enough, not likeable enough – and that we’re afraid those made up stories will be the ruin of us.

    It comes from lack of faith in ourselves and our higher power. Life is beautiful and interesting, and loving and generous. It is our “story” that causes us to see it as mean, cruel, treacherous, dog-eat-dog, and frightful. It is our lack of faith that we CAN take care of ourselves, our families, our lives,and we use our addictions to distract us from our fear. God tells us NOT to fear, that he will give us what we need. Giving in to fear is lack of faith in who we really are, God’s children, and the fact that it seems easier to give in to fear than to trust ourselves and God.

    Our program teaches us that we are all loved, that we are worthwhile, and that we are safe because our H.P. loves and cares for us and will guide us through any set of challenges. Recovering from addiction is just finding out who we REALLY are. At least, that’s what it is for me.

    • Fear…this speaks maybe more than any other topic to me right now. I think if I were asked at some point during a typical day – what are you feeling right now – “fear” would not pop immediately into mind. But – its the most prevalent and consistent emotion I feel. It’s always with me – 24 hours. I think I’m so used to it that I don’t even really think about it. Its like an appendage.

      Fear of what…more than anything….fear of failure. Fear of facing the damage that I’ve done. I mean – I mean – really coming face to face with it. Fear of failing at my career. Fear of failing at the program. Fear of screwing up and being more alone than I am. Fear of never having the love and trust of my wife and kids again. Fear of never having the love and trust of anyone! Fear of failing to maintain the tiny bit of integrity and honor that i have left and the little bit that I’ve begun to build as I work this program. I went into such a hole in the integrity and honor category. I wonder sometimes – can you really dig out? I believe one can – because I hear guys when I go to my meetings who make me realize that it can be done and is being done. But the reality of me picking up the pieces and not just assembling a shell of a life but a real life. A life where I am proud of myself and feel good about me. Where I feel real confidence in who I am and what I”m about. I love the promises reading at every meeting, because it gives me hope – but fear is there with me every time I hear those promises. Are they real? I mean…for me??? I know it comes down to faith. Faith in my higher power and His willingness to forgive and give me this chance. And faith in the program and the community of friends and brothers I’ve found. I gotta have faith in this. Faith that it will work for ME like it has for other people. The fear of not being quite good enough – of being inadequate – and slipping back. That truly freaks me out. I have everything to lose. I’ve finally started to re-build some trust with my wife and kids – but the addiction is cunning and powerful. I know that and it scares me. So maybe I need a healthy dose of fear to keep me sharp and aware. I can’t get too comfortable. But it can’t rule my life. I hope for the day when I find the right balance. I feel like I hold the fear at bay now…but its always at the door. Yea…I feel failure at this more than anything. But thank God…I do have hope. The hope that this program brings me, keeps me going. I’ve got to face the fear every day and stare it down. I’ve got to meet it and with the help of God, my brothers in the program, and the steps, I’m going to beat this damn thing. I’m too scared not to. One day at at time. And I hope that one day…some day…I’ll feel a lot less fear having replaced it with confidence and serenity. That’s motivation for me.

  4. I love the saying “fear knocked, faith answered, and nobody was there” When I realized I was a sex addict I was in so much pain that I remember having a lot of fear on the way to my first meeting. Thank god for the pain! I never would have gone through with it otherwise. Fear is the #1 offender for me. When I am not doing the things I need to for my sobriety, my life and my thinking starts coming from a place of fear, rather than faith. Faith is the answer. I wrote out, on paper, what my higher power is to me a couple months ago. I dont know why writing it out helped me so much, but my connection to my higher power is the key, I just have to keep working to stay close to him. It doesn’t just happen. I feel like my best thinking gets me in a world of fear and anxiety. Thank god I have a solution today. Through the steps, and meetings, and friends, I can see and feel what my higher power is doing for me.

  5. I have denied fear and paid the price. My home environment produced a strong, silent, self-reliant man. Fear was not allowed. Sure there was an occasional crack in the mold, but I could rationalize it away rather than face fear. I didn’t raise my hand in school, it wasn’t cool. I didn’t approach the pretty girls, they were too into themselves. I graduated from college still not knowing what I wanted to do with my life; that’s ok, why pigeon hole myself.
    This went on for years, until hitting bottom unleashed an overwhelming torrent of emotions. I was consumed by pain and despair, wracked with shame and guilt, humbled and afraid. I reached out for help. SAA and therapy softened the early days of despair with unconditional acceptance and non-judgment by fellow addicts. Then gradually things began to get better. In therapy, I learned how much fear was a factor in many of my decisions in life. Fear often hijacked my body, mind and spirit.
    Fear took residence in my body at times twisting my neck and shoulder into knots, inducing spasms in my back, and constricting my lower back and hips.
    Fear fogged my mind. It made me defensive in response to criticism, whether real or perceived. It made me a compulsive spend-thrift and then resentful for never having enough. It kept me from taking risks, thereby avoiding the experience of failure at the expense of growth.
    Fear poisoned my spirit. It blocked me from dreaming, and dissolved any passion for life. The little boy that was full of curious energy, connected to nature and alive to life was caged by fear at an early age.
    Thanks to Recovery, I am reclaiming the childlike openness of my early natural self – my inner child. After three years plus in Recovery, I continue to work on acknowledging fear when it occurs. I embrace the fear that protects me from real harm, and I am getting better at letting go of the residual fear that still afflicts on occasion.
    I can make mistakes and learn. I can try new things and take satisfaction from a good effort. I can meet new people, smile and practice compassion. I can live in the present with gratitude for that which has passed and brought me to where I am today; and with trust that the path of Recovery will bring me emotional and spiritual growth.

  6. I like the phrase “Fear knocks , Faith answers and no one was there”. My life currently is a constant cycle of living in Fear. Fear of getting caught, Fear of losing my job, Fear of losing my family, Fear of being judged and the Fear of the constant un-manageability and insanity that comes with being in ACTIVE ADDICTION. Leading a double life. Not being able to look the world in the eye. The shame and remorse that follow every acting out episode.

    I am tired of fighting this disease. I am tired of constant living in fear. I am tired of Fear and lacking of Faith that is controlling my life. I do know the answer to all of this. But the million dollar question is why am I still not taking action to follow what others have done before? What is this Fear that is holding me back?

  7. Yes…this post and the comments sum up what has been and in still to a very large extent, my life. My life has been one of “fear”. It seems everything I have done or do is in some way motivated by fear. Before I came into my addiction, it was the fear of letting of being inadequate – not measuring up. A constant fear. A fear of being found out as not worthy and simply not good enough. And that in turn drove me toward my addiction, as I tried to fight the fear with finding relationships that would validate me. There was always another woman to “rescue” and to prove I was a real man to. Another woman to show just how good I was – in bed and out of bed. And each one was enough for a while – before the fear returned. And then it became a fear as was said – of being caught. And once I was caught, a fear of going back to the drug and losing everything. But that fear wasn’t enough to keep me from going back to the drug again. My fear of inadequacy, and never being good enough, was stronger than anything. It drove me to hurt everyone I cared about. And now, I fear being alone. That all the pain I’ve caused will come home to roost. And though I’ve been able to maintain my celibacy – married but 11 hours away from my wife – fear of people seeing through me. I imagine people at work and all around me looking at me in disgust and loathing. I want to start over but knowing – I can’t truly start over because of this past I’ve created. Fear of my kids never trusting me and finally – fear of relapsing. That’s its just one vicious circle. I’ve got a sponsor now – I finally decided to stop playing around with this thing and work the steps. No more excuses or reasons why. No more holding back. I’ve finally admitted – again – after screwing up royally this past year – that I’m absolutely powerlessness. I’m a fool to think otherwise. This is my drug and I can’t beat this thing without the help of my higher power, my sponsor, the fellowship, and the program. I fear myself more than anything. What I’m capable of. But what scares me more than anything else is not working this program. That is my worst possible nightmare, and that is what drives me now. The fear of the consequences of not working the steps and not beating this thing.

  8. I’m sitting here scared. Scared of relapsing again. My son is convinced that I’ll do it again and it feels like a prophesy. I know in my head its not, but in my heart I’m scared. For years I was absorbed by the constant, overwhelming desire, to find new women to get into a relationship with and sleep with. The problem was that I did this all while I was married. My wife has been incredibly forgiving, but the point was reached some time ago, when she realized that my numerous affairs were a type of abuse. We’re at the point now where one slip – and its over for good. I have the added difficulty now of living 11 hours away. My triggers are boredom, sadness, disappointment, fear, and of course, loneliness. I’m feeling the whole spectrum today. My instinct is to go to a dating site and start checking out women. And once I’m there, I’m down the road again.
    On the positive side, I’m taking this an hour at a time – today a day feels endless – and I’ve finally got a sponsor. I wanted the easy route – not having a sponsor and just attending meetings. That works for a while but I know that ultimately I will fail. I need to work the steps and I’ve put it off. I think inside, its because I want to leave the door open. I want the drug and the euphoria and thrill it brings. I want to know that’s its there is I need it. I want the validation that it brings. But the consequences aren’t worth it any more. I’m so full of self-hate, rage, and disgust with myself that its overwhelming sometimes. I know I can’t beat this without the help of my higher power, my sponsor, the guys in my group, and the program. I’ve finally faced it. Its time to stop screwing around with the program and hanging around it on the periphery, and immerse myself in working the steps. I dread writing my journal and the memories and regret that it will bring to the surface. But I know in my head that in order for the healing to start I’ve got to go through the pain. I’m so grateful for the SAA group I’ve found. I know the going is going to get rough before its gets easy, but I’m doing this. I don’t know how but I’m going to work the steps no matter how long it takes and no matter how much discomfort it causes. It seems like an endless journey right now. But I know as I’ve hear so many times that “feelings aren’t facts”. I have to keep reminding myself of that, because they sure are kicking my butt today! Thank God I’ve got work tomorrow! I need to be absorbed in something other than thinking about the past and the future and just focus on the present right now. Thanks for letting me share.

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