Fear: (noun). An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
It is amazing to me that so much of women's lives is grounded in fear. We are taught to "overcome it", "control it", and basically "just get over it". It's not that most of us live our lives looking around the corner for the boogy-man or that credible threats haunt us, but more that memories of painful experiences creep into our lives, reminding us of our vulnerability and overall fragility. Nor is it to say that we are somehow immobilized (though some women are), but more that we are subtly impacted by small fears that color our way of thinking and our actions.
Most of us would prefer not to think of ourselves as fearful - it goes against the "strong woman" complex that we covet and try to maintain. But if we examine our reactions to certain life situations that trigger unexplainable anxiety or tension, we can probably, at the very least, acknowledge an old underlying fear, irrational as it may be.
Some things we never really overcome: divorce, abandonment, extreme poverty, death of a child. These life experiences color our lives for years later, after their last tears dried on our cheeks. Other smaller fears today are rooted in our childhood, adolescence and teen years - fears of rejection, not being liked or loved, not being enough, fears of being alone. These are the ones we try to "get over" as adults and are especially annoyed when they occasionally creep back into our lives.
But because we are "strong women", we are usually able to squash the petty adolescent notion that we were never pretty enough, never smart enough or basically a "loser". We assure ourselves, and rightfully so, that we are none of those things any more. Today we are, after all, "ALL THAT and a bag of chips"!
Until we dream...
Leave it to our brains to bring out the worse in us: old anxieties and fears come back like a freight train in our dream world. Though laughable in the clear daylight, we are taken aback by the momentary unpleasant emotion we feel upon waking, Dang! Are we NOT over THAT yet...really??!!
So, about that dream I had last night of my upcoming high school reunion...50 years is a long time to get over it, and in my conscious, rational, totally together life today, I am. Some say that there's a smidgen of truth in dreams and if that's so, then I am deluded still and could use a few more bars of I am woman, hear me roar. I tend to believe that dreams remind us of who we were and where we've been. So when we wake, the old emotion wakes with us, if only for a moment.
So I'm in line to go into the party. Dave is suited up in a tux, but he's forgotten the tickets. He leaves to go back home and I take matters into my own hands and buy another ticket at the door. I wander in and I'm immediately distressed about my lipstick (I'm having a hard time finding a lipstick that will stay on these days). I see some popular girls and I wander over. They disappear into thin air. I don't seem to recognize anyone there...faces look familiar, but somehow old and changed. So I keep wandering. They are having a shoe sale on the dance floor, but I can't buy any because I can't wear high heels any more. I see Joe (not his real name) and he's wearing a grotesque cable knit sweater that's too small (I knit, so I don't know what that was all about) Some faceless guy leads me over to a group of other low-life guys that are selling drugs and I am barely able to escape without getting stoned. I meet Sally (not her real name) in a tiny stairwell and she has shown up with her grand kids in tow. One of them sticks her tongue out at me as I pass. I find table and a woman takes my little flask of hooch (Crown Royal - which makes me immensely popular at that moment) that I've been swigging out of and she proceeds to pass it around to everyone at the table and they drink it all. I'm now sober. I wander again and see my husband (with a mohawk, no less, and sporting a football jersey) flirting with some chick. I give him the stink eye, but keep wandering around...looking...wandering. Somewhere, somehow I have lost my shoes. I spill my hooch on my bridal gown and it rots the fabric and now I have a big hole in my dress, which I try to cover up with my over sized cheap vinyl purse. I still can't find the popular table. Or my shoes. I pass by a mirror and see that my makeup is totally thrashed. I'm a mess.
I wake. Momentary fear. Relief. Then I bust up. Anyone who knows me, knows that I would never wear a bridal gown to my reunion, much less be caught dead toting a cheap plastic purse.
Laurel. Where are my shoes?
Dave: "Honey, let's go down to the Mall and we'll compare - I will show you how beautiful you still are."