I recently had a conversation with a friend where we admitted we both once had a fear of looking foolish and we both proudly exclaimed that we were so over that one.
And the truth is, I have let go of my fear of looking foolish long ago. Clearly I have no problem about acting silly in public. I tap dance in the office. Start Very Serious Work Meetings with a song, and will throw any idea out there no matter how crazy it may seem. I blog about things that may make me look nutty. I tell funny stories that make others laugh with me at my weaknesses. There is a certain part of me that is just OK with being out there, who cares what the rest of the world may think?
But feeling foolish…Now that is a different kind of story. There is a certain kind of feeling foolish that sends me screaming for the hills. Its the foolishness that comes from loving too much and caring too deeply and trusting too much and being let down by that love. And I fear it more than anything. It is the foolishness felt by a lovesick teenager who realizes her crush doesn’t notice her. It is the foolishness felt by a wife when she realizes that her husband is leaving her. It is the foolishness felt by a friend when she realizes that she has asked too much of dear friends who give and give but are tired of giving right now. It is the foolishness felt by a happy visitor when she has realized she has stayed too long. It is the foolishness felt by the person standing in the town square, her heart wide open and bleeding for all to see.
Yeah that kind of foolishness scares the sweet bejezus out of me.
In the weeks and months after Juan left I felt foolish like this a lot. I didn’t believe for one second that others thought I looked foolish, but frankly that didn’t matter. I felt exposed and vulnerable and sick to my stomach. And when I finally stopped feeling that way I decided I didn’t ever want to feel that way again.
There was a time when this fear would come up I would react. Listen to the loud alarm in my head without really understanding what it said. The alarm would say run, act angry, say something mean, PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL COSTS and I would. Reflexively. Not that long ago when it came up I would ignore it, pretend it didn’t exist, or worse still throw stones at it.
But these days when this fear comes up I just notice it. I say hello. Invite it down for tea and ask it to tell me what is really going on. It speaks to me about not being good enough. It speaks to me of hoping to hard. It speaks to me of knowing my place, standing in line, waiting my turn and not expecting too much. I listen without accepting all that this fear has to say, but I can’t quite ask her to leave. At least not yet. I am afraid of what I will do without her.
This is a tough fear to have when one has set ones mind and heart to fearless true love. And yet it seems that the two may go hand in hand-at least in my heart. This week, last week, I realized how much this fear just simmers under the surface–in some ways I guess and the more I lead with my heart, the more I jump into life with both feet, the louder it can become. Somehow in seeking a life of fearless true love, it is the fear that doesn’t want to let go. But it is the one that MUST go for me to truly live this life. It is the one I must learn to leave behind. Because to love you must always risk feeling foolish.
I can’t say why I feel the need to post this tonight. Its just been on my mind, I suppose. Its the clutter I need to remove from my life. The excess I need to give up. The candle and prayer that I light for myself each and every evening as the sun goes down.
Hey…Its not too late. Leave a comment here to win this fabulous mug from MotherHenna in my Howdy Stranger giveaway. Heck…leave a comment on this post if you’d rather. Max will pick the names from the hat on Friday at 8pm eastern time.