What Does Your Fear Masquerade As?

Fear is a tricky little bugger. Sometimes it shows itself outright. As in the screams of terror that would come from being chased by a wild animal or a knife-wielding psycho. If your life were actually in real, physical danger it’s likely fear would show it’s true colors.

But more often fear disguises itself in ways you may not even recognize.

Lately I’ve noticed my fear wearing the disguise of frustration…or impatience. I was sitting at the dinner table with my 15-year-old son, Kyle. He was telling me something…I don’t even recall what it was. All I remember was feeling annoyed and like I just wanted him to go away.

What was really going on?  I had an unexpected change in my income and that produced some serious money fear. I was so afraid in that moment I couldn’t even hear what he was saying. But to him, I’m sure it appeared as if I just didn’t care.

In the past, my fear wore anger’s clothes. I didn’t realize that at the time, but I can remember two specific incidents where my older son, Mitch, brought it to my attention. Gotta love your kids for not letting you get away with anything!

Here’s what happened. Mitch and I were at The Art Institute of Seattle where he was enrolling in a program for audio production. The young woman in the admissions office was very nice and helpful. When we left Mitch asked me, “Why were you so mean to that girl?” I was confused. I didn’t remember being mean. He said, “She was just trying to help us and you were being kinda bitchy. “

And then it hit me.

Towards the end of our appointment, I had to complete paperwork to apply for financial aid. I remember feeling terrified. All I could think was, “How am I ever going to pay this back?” Little did I know by not trying to show that fear, I was actually coming across as a complete bitch.

The other incident was when Mitch wrecked his car. I had no idea there had been an accident. He left the house with his friend Alan and rear-ended someone at the stoplight only a few minutes away. He didn’t call to tell me what had happened. He decided to handle it himself.

The next thing I knew, a tow-truck pulled up in front of my house with my son’s smashed car on the back. Even though Mitch was in the cab of the tow-truck, I couldn’t see him. Immediately fear set in.

Thankfully Mitch was okay. But later he told me when the tow-truck driver first saw me she said, “Your mom looks really mad!”

So that’s how I’ve covered my fear. Instead of just being honest about it, I’ve worn the masks of frustration or anger, impatience or bitchiness. But what if I could be more open about fear? What if, instead of automatically putting on one of those masks, I could admit, “I’m feeling really afraid right now.” How authentic and real would that be?

It’s vulnerable and feels like a risk. But the alternative hasn’t really worked out all that well so far. So I’m getting honest about fear. Care to join me? You know what they say…the truth will set you free!


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