While on a recent visit to my childhood home I reflected upon the years gone by and experienced an epiphany or a revelation of sorts. What I realised was that I had been living in fear. The fear was of the nature of my life and everything in it changing unrecognisably. Losing my childhood or the ideal of it consumed me essentially impacting nearly every aspect of my life along the way.
Growing up, home had been a constant for me. It seemed nothing ever really changed or if it did it wasn’t by much. My mother was always there for me – the nurturer, the cook, and to some degree my friend and counsellor. My father, though I never spent very much time with him, was somehow always around as well. My brothers and sisters had remained the same and even though they had children of their own, they too were rigid fixtures anchored in time. Each change of season and holiday was something I could set my proverbial watch by. Whether good or bad nothing ever really changed and my world was always safe and dependable. Unbeknownst to me, that would all change with the death of someone that was very important in my life.
I lost a close family friend, someone who had known me since the day I had been born. This man was our family minister and nothing less than a surrogate father to me. He basically guided me through life getting me over some very difficult hurdles. He was there for me when my father was not. I thoroughly enjoyed his counsel and so did countless numbers of others. In fact, he would receive visitors from miles away who would come just to hear his words and prophecies. He had a mystical quality about him and was nothing short of extraordinary. His loss shook me more than I could have imagined. I didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to him properly as I was out of the country during the time of his passing.
Several years later, I lost an older sister to a brain aneurysm. She was fairly young and as it occurred suddenly and unexpectedly, I never had the opportunity to say goodbye to her either. This would later become a pattern for me, not saying goodbye. Things in my world would remain fairly stable for a few years after that until I lost my brother to cancer in 2010 and a year ago, lost my father. I wasn’t home for either of their funerals as I had been living abroad and unable to get back in time. I think part of me in some way did not want to face the losses. I could not come to terms with the life changes they represented. Now with the opportunity to come home again, nothing is the same and my deepest fears have come to fruition. My mother and siblings are much older than I remembered. Nieces and nephews are either in college or working with lives of their own and all of them are virtually unrecognisable to me now. My childhood home and community also seemed to have drastically changed as has life itself. Nothing feels the same or is the same.
According to the Oxford Dictionary “fear” is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or is a threat. It is also a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety and well-being of someone. All of the aforementioned is, in some way applicable. Fear of changes, of loss, of failures, of success and so on and so forth have plagued me since childhood. It has impacted me in some very critical ways well into my adulthood affecting my ambitions, goals, relationships, and views on life. I believe this is true of all of us to a certain extent.
It is my contention that we internalise certain fears that we have burying them so deeply that we consciously forget that they existed at all. It then becomes difficult for us to let go, give up or even in some respects to “move on”. I have stated in a recent post that the very nature of life itself is change. The fear of that change whether it is perceived or not can affect us in some unimaginable and profound ways. This fear can be quite debilitating and hinder who we are or who we are to become. It can destroy relationships and leave us both figuratively and literally alone. It also may impact our physical health as well as our happiness. A certain degree of anxiety or fear is healthy and to a degree necessary. Too much fear can leave us drowning not only in our past but lost in a world of “would-have, could-have or should-have-been”.
Personally, as I move forward, I understand that I have to deal with the fear and pain of loss. The realisation that nothing is permanent in this world is the first step. Everything changes whether it is family, communities, countries, environments and especially oneself. At some point, everything also dies. It is a fact of life and is a necessity for rebirth. Fully understanding this can be transformative. I am not use to penning these types of personal posts but the epiphany compelled me to share this. I hope this revelation finds those of you who may be experiencing a similar life crisis.