By Amanda Love
If you live in fear, it is impossible to be free. Fear can take many forms — fear of leaving a job you don’t like for a more challenging one, fear of voicing your opinions to a spouse that constantly argues with you, fear of being alone, fear of changing careers, fear of moving away from family and friends and starting over.
My personal experience has been with a verbally abusive spouse. I would wake up in the morning to his temper tantrums and go to sleep with them as well. This went on for about fifteen years, until I looked in the mirror one day and realized I had no respect for myself. I have a high love and belonging need and a low freedom need, which I pushed so low it was non-existent.
I was fearful of rocking the boat by leaving all at once. My friend, who is also a therapist, advised me to “leave without leaving.” Start by doing things that you love to do, seek new challenges for yourself, learn new things, she said.
I followed her advice and slowly became more of who I really am as a person. I raised a puppy for a service dog organization, and took her everywhere I went, spreading the word about the wonders service dogs work. When the dog was returned to me for a mild medical condition, she and I trained together to be a pet therapy team. We volunteered at a nursing home and a Read to the Dog Program at a New York City library.
I regained my self-respect. I began writing a novel, a love story. I became more confident in myself and when I finished the book I was able to stand up and end the marriage. I recently moved to a different town on my native Long Island, and have conquered my fear of new situations by participating in community groups that I love.
I battle fear every day — and maybe you do too. Challenge yourself by identifying what you are really afraid of, and try to reason with yourself that the fear is unfounded. If you can’t do that by yourself, seek help from a trusted family member, friend or a counselor.