A few years ago I went through a season of fear. Fear can be overwhelming; it can take control of your life. It can occupy your every thought.
My fear was for Levi who was not doing well. He wasn’t progressing. He made choices that isolated himself. He manipulated Cheryl and I. In fact, he became the alpha in the family.
I worried: What would happen to him? Would he ever be able to make it in society? Would he make a decision, thinking he could get away with it, that would lead him into physical danger? Would he survive?
Each day those questions plagued me. My parenting style then wasn’t the best. I was too soft, too eager to appease instead of confront. I was too nice and didn’t say no.
This led to stress on our marriage and strained relations with my other children. It was ruining our family life. If you’ve read my post 4 and 1 you know that my focus was mostly on him. Not having good relationships with my other children and Cheryl added to my anxiety. Personally, I didn’t feel worth much. I saw the negative and it brought me down more. My stress rose and the feelings fed on each other. It was a spiral and it needed to change.
I also had physical changes. I lost 10 pounds (which I could lose); I didn’t sleep well. I was always worried. All that stress takes a toll on a body. It made me cranky and I was short with everyone.
I’m going to gloss over some of the specific details, but a time came where events happened that changed things. I felt we had failed. Everything I worried about seemed to be coming true. As a Father, there isn’t a worse feeling than failure. Things were still spinning out of control. Even though I had taken some steps to stop the spiral, I wasn’t there yet and my emotions were getting the better of me.
I knew I could rise above the despair I was feeling. Levi began to get the help he needed so I could work on my emotions. And I began some habits that helped me:
- I created my AM routine and my PM routine.
- I wrote in my journal.
- I created declarations for myself.
- I learned to say no and hold my ground.
Over the next few months, as I incorporated these habits, I learned how to be a better father. The habits strengthened my marriage. They also helped me improve my relationships with my other children. They increased my self-esteem and confidence. I started to see things in a more positive light.
As time went on, I became confident. I watched Levi become more responsible. I watched our family become cohesive. I saw light at the end of the tunnel and knew that it wasn’t another train.
The period of fear I went through helped me to become stronger. When we recognize and face our fear, we can overcome it. One of my favorite novels, Dune by Frank Herbert, describes the Litany Against Fear:
I must not fear. Fear is the little mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Facing fear and dealing with it instead of allowing it to run our lives keeps us in control. We can see things differently. We can stay focused on what needs to happen instead of worrying about what might happen. If we let fear pass “over [us] and through [us]” and watch it go away, we hold our space.
Today, I have better relationships with all my children and my wife. I’m not as scared as I once was. Do I still worry at times? Of course. Do I let it run my life? Not anymore.