Each of us has many experiences in a lifetime and the way or pace at which we travel through them is so unique and personal and yet we have such common denominators like “fear”. Fear is in all of us and non of us are immune , we are just able to shape the way we deal with it. This fear comes in so many packages, situations and circumstances…. what one person fears another doesn’t and vise versa . Why this diversity when the underlying emotion is the same and why are there “groups” that fear the same so they can support and relate to one another ? Are the similarities in the experiences meant to bring us together on a journey with each other? Perhaps a way of making sure that we meet those that we are to meet. Are the differences a way of making sure that we stretch ourselves by seeing others that move through the world in a different less “fearful” way than we do? Is empathy derived from feeling what others are feeling because we felt it intimately ourselves? I’m asking these questions as I begin to tell you of my fear and my experiences to see if we can together understand the power of this fear and how it can transform our lives if we allow.

I know of a woman who struggles with her sexuality, her struggle isn’t one of whether or not she is a lesbian ,she questions is it o.k to be a lesbian in the eyes of the world. What will her grandson think of her? Will her colleagues respect her, her family and friends accept her? All of these concerns she surrounds herself with as she hides behind a marriage to a man who knows she is a lesbian and not a “bisexual”, a lesbian who is having relationships with women and he with women, this married couple not living together just showing up to “events” together. I watched this woman fall in love with another woman and struggle with what love was… was it to him or to her what was real… Her fear kept her saying it was him because he was safe, he was there and she could go and be, but she wasn’t free. I watched her try to be free, she filed for divorce and yet could not go through with it she needed him to feel whole, to feel complete, to feel safe in this world not in his arms but in this world. She tried, but she is filled with fear to the point that life for her is a “cave”, she hides away inside with any woman she sees, she lies to herself and to them about who she is and she is trapped. She wants to love and to be loved but she can’t let go of the fear of judgment, the “stigma” . I watched her own self sabotaging fear tear apart something that was real in her life, it was so real that the only way she chose to face it was to pretend that it was bad and that she misjudged it, this way she could push it away and blame something other than her choice.

I understand her fear, for my path took me down the same emotions and experiences almost identically. The difference is that I was not a lawyer in the community, a law school professor , a mother and a grandmother. I don’t know her exact struggle, but I know enough to know that she cannot be free until she is willing to face the fear. Freedom comes with a price that each of us must pay, what that cost is will be different for each person and whether you choose to pay it and enjoy life or pay it and be trapped you will still pay . One will bring you joy and one will bring you misery… ahhh our lives are about choice….

Imagine this woman enduring the judgment of her own mind or the reality of others, can you feel her freedom in that price that she pays? Can you see yourself in this situation can you see where you are not free and can make a different choice to have freedom by releasing your fear….

My challenge to you today is to let fear sit beside you but not within you.

Tonja Demoff