Today the sky is full of wet, sloppy snow. It’s coming down and covering the ground, somewhat, and has kind of blown my plans for flower bed work today. It is an unwelcome reminder that winter is not quite finished here yet.
Fear can make our recovery into a bit of a sloppy mess too. And it is just as unwelcome! Certainly, we know by now going through and getting our 4th step inventory completed and read to our sponsor or trusted recovery friend is vital to moving forward in the process. But what happens when I wake up in the morning and my mind lazily drifts to a past event, and I become anxious and fearful of it happening again? Or, I am in the midst of everyday activities and suddenly, something will jolt me into a fear response (trigger). I then spend the next several hours or days, wasting energy and focus on something that was dealt with already. Or was it?
And, we come to the “FEARS INVENTORY”. It is not often talked about, which is a pity, because it can provide insight and a basis to work on those things that continue to trip us up, and make us miserable. Recovery is a process of bring our lives into “reasonable happiness”, not white-knuckling through our struggles. This means I have to address those things which I fear. A FEARS INVENTORY is a great place to start pulling apart the puzzle of what keeps us looking back and unable to focus forward on what God has planned for us in the present.
So what does it look like? The Big Book of AA on pages 67 through 68 will help get you started, also my sponsor gave me a fears list to jog my mind. That list included:
Abandonment being deceived change death
disapproval failure the future love
and many others.
Write it out. List each fear. Why do you have each fear? How has depending on your own ability to figure your way out of it failed? Then, once you have worked through this, sit down with a trusted recovery friend or sponsor and go over the list. Clarifying and agreeing together that you can put them to rest, and submit them as you did your addiction and dysfunction in steps one, two and three, will totally snap the chains of fears bondage in your life.
Sometimes our fears will have run so amok, we need a guide to hold our hand and walk us carefully though the fears minefield. I ended up seeking pastoral counseling for my fears, because I had let them take hold so completely. I actually had physical symptoms that were impacting my daily life, heart palpitations and shortness of breath due to my inability to deal with my fear responses. In seeking medical attention, I was offered tranquilizers, as there were no other physical problems. I decided to try a different approach.
The counselor* asked plainly “what is the worst thing that can happen?” She had me imagine this scenario for the fears that held me most captive, as scary as that sounds. Then she said, “Now, release it to God’s care and control.” And she was right. The fears I had allowed to keep my mind hostage, I had no control over, and my fear would not change things one bit, except to leave me frightened and miserable.
So I did. I released it. And I continue to practice this, sometimes daily if necessary. I am grateful every day for the lesson of acknowledgement of my fear, and then releasing it. I cannot keep a hold of it if I want to move forward and do what it is God is calling me to do.
Perfect love casts out all fear. Much love and peace to you all today.
*Dedicated with love to VHW