I Own My Fear

When doing all my work with therapy during my illness last year there were a number of significant moments that were steps towards recovery. But there were two watershed moment to getting on top of the PTSD I think. One of these was realising that I was trying to fight it in completely the wrong way. What I had been doing was trying to fight it by holding it down and sitting on it. But this just achieved the effect of leaping up at me where I did not expect it. Then came a quite bright revelation, arrived at very much through the work I was doing with my psychologist, that what I needed to do was to let it rear up and run with it and in some ways to do its worst. Ultimately this was to prove to me that actually it could not beat me. The actual process was a bit more complicated, and certainly more painful and frightening initially, than that simple explanation. That is the bottom line though. I suppose it is what the exposure therapy first time round was trying to do but clearly I did not really get it. Or maybe, unconsciously, I resisted taking that leap.

Opting to take that path committed me to a lot of hard work and many difficult moments. But, in the end, it contributed hugely to my recovery and getting me to where I am now.

I still take it on now. From time to time I will “check-in” with myself and look at photographs of the events, in particular some from the immediate aftermath of the Baltic Exchange that I do not think have ever been generally published. I also quite deliberately run them through my mind. Some times it is not all that comfortable. But I very much believe it is part of the process of staying well.

The title of this piece? By a piece of serendipity I listened to the album Up by Peter Gabriel again very shortly after I had this watershed moment. It’s first track Darkness contains the line “I own my fear so it doesn’t own me”. It sums this up absolutely perfectly. In fact there are lots of relevant references in the lyric and I have copied it below. It’s a powerful song. Hear it here  

i’m scared of swimming in the sea
dark shapes moving under me
every fear i swallow makes me small
inconsequential things occur
alarms are triggered
memories stir
it’s not the way it has to be

i’m afraid of what i do not know
i hate being undermined
i’m afraid i can be devil man
and i’m scared to be divine
don’t mess with me my fuse is short
beneath this skin these fragments caught

when i allow it to be
there’s no control over me
i have my fears
but they do not have me

walking through the undergrowth, to the house in the woods
the deeper i go, the darker it gets
i peer through the window
knock at the door
and the monster i was
so afraid of
lies curled up on the floor
is curled up on the floor just like a baby boy

i cry until i laugh

i’m afraid of being mothered
with my balls shut in the pen
i’m afraid of loving women
and i’m scared of loving men
flashbacks coming in every night
don’t tell me everything’s alright

when i allow it to be
it has no control over me
i own my fear
so it doesn’t own me

walking through the undergrowth, to the house in the woods
the deeper i go, the darker it gets
i peer through the window
knock at the door
and the monster i was
so afraid of
lies curled up on the floor
is curled up on the floor just like a baby boy

i cry until i laugh

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