The Wall

Yesterday afternoon I took my boys to a park.  It’s not close to where they or I live.  We’ve visited it several times.

At the park’s playground is a large concrete structure.  One of the sides is a vertical wall about  six to seven feet high.  There are lots of pipes bent into loops sticking out to climb on.

I challenged my boys to climb it.  They were both nervous.  Soon my six-year-old had climbed to the top and was waving happily at me.

My nine-year-old made several attempts, never getting more than a foot or two off the ground.

My six-year-old eventually made the climb thirty times.

I asked my nine-year-old why he hadn’t made it up yet.  He was scared.  I showed him how easy it was for his brother.  There was nothing to be afraid of.  I offered him whatever help he needed.

He refused to make the climb.

He just wanted to go home and watch TV.

I told him we weren’t leaving until he climbed at least once.

After some coaxing he started to climb.

I gave him directions.

I held his feet so they wouldn’t slip.

He got scared.  He tried to climb back down.

I wouldn’t let him.

I told him he could do it.  That he was almost there.

His younger brother stood at the top, offering him help.

Eventually he made it.

He was shaking like a leaf.

On the way home I talked to him about the experience.  We discussed why it’s important to do things even though we’re afraid.  That anything worth doing is going to be scary at first.

It’s advice I needed to hear.

Did I do the right thing?  I don’t know.

I’ve seen him give up out of fear so many times before.  He needs to break this habit.

So do I.

I’m secretive

“People will make fun of me for the music I like.”

“I’m a disgusting porn addict.  If anyone finds out they’ll know how disgusting I am.”

“If anyone finds out I believe in conspiracies they’ll think I’m crazy.  No one will ever want to talk to me again.”

These are just a few examples of thoughts I’ve had.

I’m afraid of ridicule.

Of rejection.

Of confrontation.

So I hide the things I think people won’t like.

I’m trying do undo that now.

Forcing myself to disclose things I think people won’t like.

Maybe I will lose some friends.  I hope not.

But maybe some friendships will grow stronger.

Maybe I’ll gain some friends, too.

I’m a scared little boy

So many things I haven’t done because I was afraid.

So many things I have done because I was afraid.

I let fear rule my life.

Fear is the main reason I haven’t started any businesses yet.

Fear is why I don’t get closer to people.

Open up to them.

Express myself.

I’ve done jobs I’ve hated for most of my adult life because I was afraid to try something new.

I’m tired of being afraid.

Vulnerability

I’ve always been the first one to say, “I love you.”  I always say, “Not next time.”  But I always do.

Vulnerability is scary.

I’ve felt a lot of shame in my life.  I’ve thought, “If people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me.”

The result seems to have been the opposite.

No one has told me how terrible I am.

People have actually said some really nice things.  About me.  About things I’ve written.

I feel like I’m just getting started.

Paradoxically, being vulnerable has made me feel better about myself.

It’s made me feel stronger.

You should try it.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore

I was ashamed.

I let fear run my life.

I lied because I was afraid of what she’d say.  Afraid of what she’d do.  Afraid of how she’d feel.

Would she do if she thought I was as awful as I thought I was?  Would she leave me?

I thought I was a terrible person.  I couldn’t let anyone know how terrible I was.  No one would want to be with someone as terrible as me.

I was never good enough for me.

I had to pretend to be someone else.  To conceal my true self.

To wear a mask.

Wearing a mask all the time is exhausting.  I was always afraid of being found out.

The only time I could relax was when I was alone.

I’m tired of wearing a mask.

I’m tired of being afraid.

Taking the mask off is scary.

People will judge me.

What if no one likes me anymore?

What if I lose everyone and everything I care about?