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This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Living in fear

Since 'surfacing' I have had some time to look back at both this blog and my life in general over the past year or so.  I noticed that there is a trend lying in everything that I can remember and read back on those points and one that seems to stretch back as far as I can remember as well.  As I write this I am dressed in an ensemble that dates back to about 2005/6, after I split with Toby and before I met Tilly.  This is not meant as titillation, I think it is relevant.

Yes.  This sums up me, looking at life from
round the corner and in female clothing.
The thing is that, for as long as I can remember and certainly as long as I have been analysing what I do (read: as long as I can remember) I have lived in and through fear.  My every decision and action is weighed against the fear of things going wrong.  Once, when I was still reading Focus and my Dad had not yet left, I read an article on military commanders and what made them great.  It was simple psychology, historical doggerel at its worst but matched to some firm scientific principles (any research that takes historical figures, generals at that, at face value is doggerel) on psychology.  In it, there was one of those silly quizzes to take and see how you matched up to the generals.  Now, I was 'into' warfare and strategy in the way that most teenage boys are, well, maybe not most.  I had no desire to actually fight, no desire to actually have a war but commanding armies and setting strategies, well, that did seem like my bag.  So, for once, I didn't game the results and I didn't peek at the results from the generals themselves ahead of time.  It turned out that I was motivated by fear of things going wrong, no great news there, but the analysis of the result set I was in said that this was the worst motivation for, well, anything but particularly for military command as I was unlikely to take risks and unlikely therefore to win any victories.  I would make a great First World War commander, few of my men would die, but I would never win a conflict.
Kuropotkin, whose fear of failure
led directly to the defeat of the
Russian army at the battle
of Mukden in March 1905.

I knew that the article had me pegged then and I'm even more certain now.  I am reactive as a personality type, I rely on stimulus from others to inform my own actions and rarely take the initiative.  Take meeting Tilly - this was one of the few times that I took the initiative in that I contacted her.  However, once we had regular contact I became almost exclusively reactive (I still have the e-mails) in communication.  I arranged a trip to York, initiative, and our first night together as a couple in Oxford.  But the impetus for actually having sex that night was from Tilly.  I asked her to marry me and to move in.  From the point she moved in, though, I became reactive again.  From that point until quite recently I operated out of a perverse fear that she would leave me in all operations and interactions with her.

Iam rarely bothered by the unknown.  I am older and wiser,
I fear what is likely or what I am aware could happen.
This is not helped by the fact that I am borderline paranoid
about the motivations of other people.
It's only paranoia if they're not out to get you!
At work, until 2007, I was a mere peon: as a consequence I did not fear much but my boss's angry tirades.  I look back at the amount of work and the volume of stuff that I got through and I can't help thinking that the reason I got through so much was the fact that there wasn't much fear - there was nothing to fear.  I had no reason to assume I would lose my job and no reason to fear any great changes there.  After that point I left to become a manager myself, I took someone else through a procedure that ended with them leaving the school and then being unemployed for a short time, I now knew that this worked.  But there was little fear there, at first.  As behaviour continued to be bad across the school and my results refused to match expectations I felt the first icy tendrils of the fear that would drive me back to my old boss and, eventually, into the horrid storm that has raged since the birth of my son at work.  Why?  Because I had forced someone else out of their job and had done so clinically and coolly.  I knew now how it could be done and that it could be done.  My experiences, talking through them with my old boss whilst I was still a manager, were then used against me by my boss when I returned.  I knew what he was doing, he knew that I knew and used that to pile on the pressure.  But it was my fear that allowed him to do that and to do it so effectively.  It has allowed my new boss to act the way she has, to be defensive and angry and for me to end up on the blunt end of some pretty bad stuff.  I have been feeling useless and crap for a good long while now and only recently did some of that 'fall away'.

Not my skirt, but close enough.
But it's all down to fear.  I wear a denim effect skirt and a pink elbow-length sleeved jumper with shirt cuff and collar edging at the moment.  The skirt was a 'present' from Toby as it fit me better than her, one that I was glad to take.  The top was bought randomly in a charity shop far from home because I fell in love with it and it was only a fiver.  I wore them a little around the time I bought my house in 2006/7 but then they've languished since then with a few outings because I am fearful of what would happen if Tilly found out that I still had them.  I'm on training at home at the moment, online, talking to other people in my profession and having a day off school and so I'm doing it more or less en femme.  Why?  Because the fear is not as bad today as it has obviously been for a long time.

Fear has another effect, however, in that it has prevented me from fully engaging in therapy, of which I have my final session soon, and that has been hard on both me and the lovely CBT professional that has been helping.  I disengage and make light and subvert because I'm so darn scared of it not working, of it all going wrong and knowing that the only person who caused that is me.  I am scared of responsibility because, in my experience, responsibility means blame and I am scared of making the wrong choices because they tend to have far reaching and unpredictable consequences.  These fears make it virtually impossible to engage in therapy properly and they combine with my fear of praise to create a perfect psychological storm.  In many ways I need the therapy to work so that I can engage enough in therapy to make it work.

It is fear that dictates how I engage with others too, both online and in real life.  The fear that they will think badly of me, that I will not someone that they can like or get on with.  I realise that this fear is ridiculous, one cannot be all things to all people and much less can one have entirely positive interactions with people - even, or perhaps especially, those with whom you've been a long time.  It's natural that there will be friction, discord and even anger in these exchanges.  It is natural that there will be people with whom I cannot get on for whatever reason or with whom I make a poor first impression and thus spend years labouring under that impression regardless of what I do.  In many ways it will be down to the person with whom I interact rather than anything that I do or say - they will have their own trials and tribulations and moods and thoughts.  Academically, I know all of this, but I still can't shake that nagging fear that I will mess it up, that I will create enemies rather than friends or, at the very least, I will come across as a complete eejit and be avoided politely for a long time.  But then I feel exactly the same fear and worry when people are nice from the get-go or when people change their moods and interactions with me.  No one can win in this, least of all me, and it's all down to fear.

Wearing what I am, in daylight no less, is part of me trying to take the fight to my fear.  We'll see what difference it makes...


  1. Realizing the things you fear is a good step sweetie. Confronting them is a whole nother issue, but if you know what is bothering you, its usually at least half the battle!

  2. This is truth. And, for the record, it went some way, but the fear is back now.


All comments are welcome, I have a thicker skin virtually than I do in real life!