FEAR…yeah, I’ve lived with it for too long. My first post about fear, alluded to my battle with the joy destroyer, life sucker-outer, and soul robber. I have firsthand knowledge of the power it can have over people (namely, myself). I will be sharing my personal story of fear in part 4 of the series, Fear – My Battle With It. Fear is a tool the devil uses to damage us, intimidate us, and render us powerless. Do you know anyone who has personally been paralyzed by fear? Have you ever experienced that? Fear is a powerful emotion and feeling that can literally control a person’s actions.
Our fears come from multiple sources. When my husband and I started dating, I vividly remember how his mom would always stress to us that we should be very careful on the roads. She was literally afraid something was going to happen to us. Like, every. single. time. we got in a car. I thought it was odd because my parents never made a big deal about it. That belief was then transferred on to my husband who tended to worry more than me about possible accidents or people getting hurt while on the roads.
Some fears stem from life experience. When I was about 4, we had a fire in our yard due to a spark flying out of the trashcan while burning it (yeah, the good ol’ days when you burned your trash ;)). I vividly remember a local road crew coming to the house to try and help put out the fire. My mom and dad were rushing around and hosing down our house to try and save it from catching fire. I remember that my mom was outside in her housecoat (older term for robe; again, back in the good ol’ days). The fire was eventually put out and aside from a burnt garden and yard, everything was ok. But very scary nonetheless. That memory stayed with me throughout my life and I’ve always had a fixation on our house catching on fire. I mean everyone is afraid of fire, right? But how many people consistently, for 40+ years, have visions of pulling up to their home and it being in flames? Or every time they see smoke anywhere near their home, they truly believe it is theirs on fire? ME.
Perhaps the scariest type of fear is the one that has the power to control people’s actions.
YES. It happens. Ask anyone who has ever been in an abusive relationship or a child who has been physically abused by their caregiver. There are obvious physical signs like bruising and scars. But, you may also witness a lowered head with slumped posture and refusal to make eye contact when speaking with them. They are clothed in a cloak of fear. The abused are often very compliant, indecisive, and soft spoken. The indecisiveness is ruled by fear of it being the “wrong” one, according to their abuser, which could result in abuse. Instinctually our bodies and minds are made to self-preserve. When hearing a loud noise or seeing someone make a sudden move (to get up out of a chair quickly or reach above their head to get something) they are likely to flinch or cower. This individual is constantly feeling on edge and scared. When people have been physically abused, their mind reacts in a conditioned response to do anything necessary to try and avoid the abuse. While their physical body responds by releasing adrenaline (due to the fight or flight response), begins to sweat profusely (stress sweat has a distinctive odor), and tremble. The constant fear of the abused person will erode a joyful countenance and destroy the quality of life.
Mental, verbal, and emotional abuse is just as devastating. It may even be more destructive due to the hidden nature of the abuse. Without physical scars, it is much easier to hide. Physical abuse is clearly defined and easy to identify. Mental, verbal, and emotional abuse are defined a little looser and can be difficult to identify. The worst part is the only person who can help themselves usually have such distorted views of reality (due to the fear that rules their thoughts and decisions) due to the mental abuse.
Isolation is a tool used by abusers to get rid of the voice of reason. This is true for all types of abuse. The more isolated an individual is, the more control and power the abuser has. Before long a healthy mind resorts to questioning their own beliefs and results in an inability to make a logical decisions or even understand the magnitude of their situation. Ultimately, fear becomes the leader and rules all decisions. Joyful life occasions such as birthdays or vacations are always enveloped in fear. Soon everything a person experiences is stained with the fear that they will be injured in some way either physically or emotionally. Our bodies and minds will self-preserve and take measures to protect the individual.
The power of fear will override a healthy mind and control a person’s actions.
The power of fear leads individuals to the loneliest, saddest, and confusing thought patterns. That is why abuse often leads to mental illness. Once it has taken hold of someone, it can impact every aspect of their life.
But, believe it not, there is a healthy fear. It is in no way similar to what we’ve discussed in this post. Rather the good kind that will not only protect us from harm, but will ultimately save our souls. Join me for part 3 of the series, Fear – The Importance of It.
Have you ever experienced the power of fear?
the whole truth and nothing but,