Reflecting on fear

Dr. X is a dear friend and also a homeopath. But she’s not a regular pill prescriber, but more of a therapist that uses homeopathic remedies to help you get to where you need to go, healthwise. The researcher in me knows that I can’t sway any skeptics here—the science doesn’t hold up. But anecdotally there is magic that happens, and I know because beyond my own experiences, the two therapists in my family’s life take their families to her too.

I got a UTI two weeks ago, from getting too cocky (pardon the pun) and forgetting that I should go pee after fun sex with Mr. Saturday Night. So I called Dr. X to help, because she has in the past and I hadn’t had one in a decade or so as a result (and while my marriage was broken and I felt we didn’t have sex enough, we still had sex more than lots of couples, so don’t try to pin that on abstinence). After prescribing something that worked almost immediately, I called her to check in about the weird sensations I was still experiencing. There’s been a dull ache in my lower back, on the left side, and it feels like energy is stuck there or something, or maybe it’s actual back pain. But my panic and anxiety is back after maybe 18 months of nothing. (And so, I’ve got an appointment to rule out anything more serious this week.)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are affected by fear. So the belief is that any issues with your kidneys are impacted by deep, prolonged fear. I’ve been anxious my whole life (though anxiety lives in the lungs in TCM), but there’s something deeper in me, a fear that makes me make decisions that aren’t in my best interest. Dr. X said I should use the Jewish holidays to reflect on my transgressions (I’m not Jewish, but we often joke that I’m “Jew-ish”). So I’m going to try to meditate and journal for the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

So this is a meditation on fear. (Those who come here just to read about the sex might want to move on.) What exactly am I afraid of? The same things as everyone else: death, endings, making wrong decisions, getting sick, missing out. But what fear and anxiety have always robbed from me is the ability to live fully. Now, I’m getting better at living fully, for sure. But every time I think I’ve got it, fear creeps in to remind me that it’s going to take more than an eviction notice to get him to move out permanently.


Saturday was an evening where I was crushed by epic grief. My daughter asked if I could host her birthday party at my home, even though it was her weekend with her dad. We all agreed that it could work, but as parents we were mindful that the transition back to his place after the party could be tough.

Theo and I collaborated on the party, though of course I did most of the planning as I am the planner. I gave him things to do and he did a lot to help out. And after the guests all left, the four of us hung out for a bit. I hugged Theo a beat too long as we congratulated each other on a job well done. Suddenly my men were dancing in my dining room, the way they used to when my son was small, and I felt the fissure in my heart (that I could swear was healed) erupt. I was overcome by a desire to have them all stay.  This was exacerbated by our daughter quite vocally announcing that she couldn’t bear to leave her home to go to his place. It was painful. But then I remembered she’d been given new books and used those as a way to get her excited about going to dad’s. They said goodbye, I closed the door and I wept.

There was a knock on my door. My mom! She’d missed the party (because they are terrible at timing), but showed up right when I needed her. I hugged her and revealed my sadness. I don’t like putting that burden on a woman in her late 70s, but I needed to and she was there, just enough, short and sweet before her comfort turned to unsolicited advice. But then she left and there were Anxiety and Fear, best buds, hanging out in my head.

The thing is, they are so damn convincing, that I believe I am at death’s door. It’s always been this way. But because I don’t actually trust myself to make a true judgment call on a health issue, I don’t do anything about the ideas they are presenting, except wallow in the fear. Conceptually, I know that my ego wants to make me feel so important, that my fear around death is that I’ll miss out on important stuff and that everyone who loves me will be so terribly sad, especially my kids who may never recover. Isn’t that really what everyone fears about death? Missing out on stuff, being missed yourself and being forgotten over time?

Conceptually, I know that there is no future, only the now, and that there is no death, that dying means only the death of the human form and that the spirit returns to the ocean, the master spirit, the life force and so I should not fear it. But try explaining that to a brain that’s irrationally afraid in that moment! Hoo! Good luck! I know it, but I don’t know shit. And that’s the practice, my friends: remembering that you don’t know shit about shit, but that you can get there with plenty of curiosity, a clear head and an open heart. That’s what the Buddhists call Samsara, I think. (But as I don’t know shit about shit, don’t quote me on that.)

So, my curious mind now wants to know why I’m so afraid of dying. But also, why am I so unable to accept joy in the moment it’s offered? Finally, the clincher, why can’t I just stay in my discomfort? Why can’t I watch it, without judgment and just wait for it to pass? Not always, but often, in my quiet moments, I take something that’s mostly good and THINK IT TO DEATH. Kinda ironic.


On Sunday, I ended up scheduling a yoga date with a girlfriend. I knew I needed yoga to set me right (in addition to a homeopathic remedy to support), but I knew myself enough to know I needed the buddy system to get me there. The yogi spoke of the new moon and of deciding what we wanted to invite in. I asked for Peace, Confidence, Serenity and Love. I started to feel greedy as my list expanded, but then she asked us to move to our right/masculine side and talked about how our masculine energy supports and defends our feminine energy. I realized that I am afraid of men and masculine energy, and that comes from a mix of childhood physical and mental abuse, and the sexual assaults I’ve written about in the past. There is so much to explore in this one little fear nugget, but it’s getting late and I’ve committed to sleeping better in order to get my anxiety back in check.

The yogi then asked us to move into fetal position on our left sides. “Your feminine side is your receiving side,” she noted. “Women are often taught that they are the givers, but giving is actually masculine energy.” In order to support our natural nurturing tendencies, we need strong masculine energy (not necessarily in the form of a man) to offer strength and support, so that our feminine side can receive love. It was interesting to consider receiving as nurturing, as loving, as a gift. So often we don’t think of ourselves as worthy of receiving, because of messages we’ve received from childhood to present day, but we must remember that these are just stories that have hardened, and they can be worked out like a kink in one’s back—with gentle perseverance.

At the namaste bit, the yogi remarked on the power of the new moon, of the unknowns in the complete dark of a new moon sky. We should be curious about all dark matter, I thought, it’s the majority of our universe and it’s expanding (which is the only thing we really know about it, because we don’t know shit about shit). We should be curious about the eternal dark and the darkness within, because it’s all connected, and I’ll bet if you followed it through it would lead you to divine light. And that’s not a bad thing. I piped up and reminded them all that it was Rosh Hashanah, also. A Jewish New Year new moon was surely extra powerful. It was for me.


On that mat I realized that in the times in between seeing Mr. SN, I freak out because I’m trying to control something. And that surrendering control is still something I’m working on. He’s driving it with his distance, or by just being a guy who is giving what he is able to at the moment and me being a woman who wants more, but can’t articulate it, because the truth is she doesn’t want to turn her whole life upside down to make time for more. Not yet.

I realized I’m looking for a Swiss Army knife, and missing the value of a tool that does one or two things really well. I have a full tool box of friends and loved ones. Why can’t I savour the orgasm tool? Why do we expect one person to be all the things to us? How unromantic and not-sexy does that become over time? I don’t have these answers yet, friends, but they are coming, in small increments. But what do I know? My desire to push him away and out of my life completely, my desire to retreat into myself because it’s nearly fall, that all comes from fear. Retreating into myself is about protection and control. It’s not necessarily out of love for myself.

In TCM, the seven ruling emotions are: Joy, Anger, Anxiety, Pensiveness, Grief, Fear, Fright. There is only one happy emotion here, people. The other six are unpleasant ones. So it’s safe to say that the majority of human life is spent in one of the bad places. Joy is not a given or a constant. Instead it’s a gift we must receive and when we lose it, we must remember that it will appear again. Often, if we stay with the uncomfortable feelings and watch/observe them rather than judge them, joy appears as the reward.

Too much joy can also cause problems, and in TCM overdoing joy can affect the heart. Overstimulation, insomnia and such, can come from too much joy.

So how to find balance? I welcome your comments.

Author: MariaCallas

Maria Callas is a pseudonym

One thought on “Reflecting on fear”

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