Use a List to Conquer Fear and Drive Change

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Recently, I’ve had a tough time with my love life, to put it mildly.  To be more specific, I’ve been abused physically, emotionally, and financially.  I nearly lost my life because of this experience.  And yet, I am struggling to get away from this man.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours crying.  You see I tried again to “help” him because I’m “Terminally Nice.”  He was released from jail unexpectedly, I had been hoping to get him into a transition program that could help with sobriety, mental health, and anger management.  He literally has no place to go without me.  So when this happened without warning, I let him come to my home.  I was too nice to let him deal with the consequences of his own issues.  Instead, I dealt with them and took on the risk.

Luckily he did not hurt my body, but for the past week I’ve felt like I was auditioning for the Jerry Springer Show (Is that even on?)  Wednesday it got to be too much, I called the police to get him out of my home.  He was either drunk or having a mental health crisis. Either way, he was threatening my livelihood (I work from home and he was disrupting meetings), my pets and I felt certain this would eventually escalate to another physical fight.  I had to call the police to help get him away.

Of course he did not leave easily, and of course, I talked to him on the phone and in person, after they released him (Why the F— would they release a man who’s been arrested twice for DV and while awaiting sentencing breaks his peaceful contact order?????).  I was hoping he’d get into a program.  I was willing to help.  He was crying telling me he’s never loved anyone like me and that he wanted to go to the hospital.

What he really wanted was to come back into the house.  I let him sleep in my car because I am too soft to say go sleep in the woods … (I knew if he got inside the house I’d never get him out).  When I woke up this morning, he was gone.  He called several times to tell me he has no reason to live and he was going to get drunk and jump onto the freeway with instructions on what to do with his body.  This went on for three hours during which I said I’d help him get help but he could not come in the house.  Then,  abrupt silence.  He’s been incommunicado for 5 hours.  I should feel relieved.  Instead, I’m wondering where he is.  I’ve been crying and truly out of my mind with angst.  I can’t keep food down, it’s hard to believe.

I think the silence really started when he realized he was not going to talk his way back into the apartment.  I fully realize he may have made good on his awful suicide promise.  I don’t know where he was so I could not call for help.  I sent him all kinds of crisis intervention information.  I don’t know what else I could have done, I’m sure if he hurt himself I’ll be a wreck.

Now I’m FINALLY getting to the part that I think may help you!  I’m at peace, and I achieved this within about 20 minutes.  You see, I was “romancing” him, remembering all the things I liked about him, most of which had nothing to do with who he really is but were the fantasy I created in my head with his help.  I thought he was sexy, intelligent and talented when I met him.  I still think he is 2 out of 3.  Until this second, all I could see was a fragile person who needed support.  He looked gentle to me.

I couldn’t think straight, I actually drove around looking for him, wondering what I’d do if I found him because I wasn’t going to bring him to my home …  But wanting to know he was alive.

In a frantic attempt to calm my emotions, I sat behind my trusty keyboard and made a list of the significant things he’s done to me that caused emotional, physical or financial pain.  In about 20 minutes I had 50 things (and because my background is marketing, some of my items had sub-bullets so it was more like 55! LOL)  With every strike of the return key I got stronger in my resolve.  I deleted him from my phone.

If you are struggling with trying to let go of anything, a substance, a behavior, a person, and you can’t seem to get past the pain I suggest you try this technique.

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Fear is what typically holds people back from making meaningful change. There are three types of fear.

  1. Fear of failure — So what, try again.  Not even computer programs run perfect the first time.
  2. Fear the change won’t be worth the effort — AND?  If you are constantly struggling with knowing you want to change something but romancing the past, you already know it will be better.  And if it’s not, then go back to the way it was or make more changes. You get to decide what is best for you.
  3. Fear of the unknown, what will the future be like if you change? — If you are seriously contemplating a significant change you don’t like the present.  If you don’t like the future the change manifests you can always “change the change”.

So I asked myself, What am I afraid of?  All of the above. Failure — I’ve already tried to get him out of my life but I keep letting him come back even though I know the likelihood is that this will not end well for either of us.  Will it be worth the effort? What if I make this change and it hurts my heart and my life doesn’t get better? My analytical brain knows it will, my soft heart is confusing me.  Lastly and perhaps most significantly for me, fear of the unknown. What if he hurts himself because I set boundaries?  What if he is my soulmate and I just put him on the street?  What if I can never love again because I had to close my heart off to him?

I’m still going to make the change.  I’m scared.  But my list tells me I’m also scared of staying the same.  Both are hard but at least one option offers the potential for a stronger future where I am an inspiration for others, not a warning.

What do you want to change?

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