Fear and Recovery

Fear is one of those human traits that naturally arises from life.  Fear is everywhere. It’s in work, relationships, money, parenting.

I can either choose to do nothing, and the fear of not acting overwhelms me. Or, I can make a decision and then I’m overwhelmed with impending doom for fear I made the wrong decision.

I learned from recovery that different types of fear exist. Some of it is good. Some of it is crazy. Some of it is just terrifying. 

Fight or Flight Fear

My dad and I fished in the Gulf of Mexico on the surf side in Port Aransas, Texas. The water was up to our chest.  You know that scene in the Jurassic Park movies where the main characters see a vicious dinosaur for the first time? 

That was us. 

We saw a shark 50 yards in front of us. It cruised near our bait. The shark’s massive shadow slowly and steadily moved through the wave.

My dad and I looked at each other. My dad said, “Go.”

We booked it to the beach. 

That’s instinctual fear, a fight or flight situation.  

We were not fighting. As a fisherman I lived with in the Florida Keys always said, “There are above water things and below water things. I’m an above water thing and I’d like to keep it that way.”

I was terrified of real danger. 

Delusion Forms of Fear

The problem with my alcoholic mind is that I can feel the same sense of danger over things that are not real. 

I was fortunate enough to speak to our mindfulness teachers at Renewal Lodge. 

They told me that sometimes people can have a response that they think is real but it’s actually not.

People can have a response like there is a shark in the water — like there is real danger — but it is all a thought in their head. 

On page 66 when the book talks about resentment, it says we have an actual brainstorm going off in our head. I believe this is true with fear as well. 

When I am in a state of great anxiety, it is difficult for me to think of anything else, especially if it is left unchecked. 

What Fear Tells Us 

Fear is the window into something called existentialism. 

Rollo May helped found the philosophy. He believed that facing these feelings of anxiety and fear was a necessary experience if personal growth and meaning were to be achieved in life.

What fear shows us is that the thing that we are afraid of is important to us. It’s a red flag saying, “Hey, this is important. You must do something about this.”

Applying Alcoholic Anonymous principles to this, if the overwhelming feeling of fear is not removed in our lives before we act, it could go badly. 

When we let fear fester — or any of the selfish characteristics — we are blocking ourselves from a force bigger than us. And when we’re blocked, there is no way we can think clearly and logically about the decisions ahead. 

A Simple Fear Prayer

We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear. Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 68

Festering Fear

Anytime I let fear fester, I have been told to read page 68. Something remarkable usually happens after I read it and follow it’s directions. I will sit quietly and meditate on what God will have me be. And usually, I find a sliver of peace.

Everything I want is not dependent on me, but it is reliant on a higher power.

When I am strapped with fear, I usually have great self-reliance. 

At the end of the movie, No Country for Old Men, there is a great line. “What you got ain’t nothing new. This country is hard on people. Can’t stop what’s coming. It ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.”

When I finally sit quiet, I realize that I’m not God, and that God has got me.

Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God’s ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasn’t it? Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 68