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Raw and Open: It’s More than Just a Fear for Me

Guest Author: Jody Betty

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

Everyone has a fear of something.

It could be a physical thing like spiders or ladders. It could be a fear with no known reason, like a fear of heights. I have a friend who is terrified of elevators and another whose worst fear is not being able to protect her child. These fears range from something that perhaps could be confronted with a lot of bravery and courage to phobias so intense they literally control your life.

I have yet to encounter a person anywhere that is 100% fearless.

Agoraphobia is a more common example of a phobia which heightens fear so much in people that they are terrified to leave the house, sometimes to the point that many of them don’t for extensive periods of time. I have yet to encounter a person anywhere that is 100% fearless.

Anxiety and depression have given me fears that once would not have been a challenge, but the illnesses make everything, even the simplest of tasks take an emotional and physical toll that is exhausting.

Everything from going out alone to talking to someone new is riddled with fear that usually halts me right in my tracks, and although I may overcome it on a particular day, the fear has not dissipated; it remains at the same intensity day after day. I am deathly afraid of fire, but not afraid of actually dying — more afraid of the manner of getting there. I am afraid of heights; I am afraid of spiders with eyes big enough to look back at me — but all those are tangible fears which perhaps could be overcome.

The one and only thing that is my ultimate fear is also my ultimate trigger.

It started when I was abandoned at six months old and happened so many times after that it has become not only a built-in fear, but it triggers an innate reaction. It weighs as heavily on me now as it did all those years ago. It affects not only how I view the world and others, but how I interact with people and at some point has affected every single relationship I have had, whether they are friendships, family or romantic.

It stimulates the fear of vulnerability, and makes fully trusting nearly impossible. It makes me build a protective wall so thick that very few have the patience or tolerance to put forth the extreme effort it takes to get in, and if you do, you may wish you hadn’t. This fear, or terror, if you haven’t figured it out yet is abandonment. It is so extreme that even saying the words goodbye to someone sets me off on an emotional frenzy which either ends in a complete meltdown or a verbal spew of angryness, which immediately triggers guilt and I end up in a meltdown regardless.

Those feelings never left me

I was abandoned five times before the age of 18 months, and then again when my Mom died when I was 19. It has been a repeated pattern that has caused so much irreparable damage to my psyche it has actually changed my personality, and I am not sure there is enough talk therapy or medication in the world to rid me of this weight. Being repeatedly abandoned so young and so often did not allow me to form a core sense of self. It did not let me develop a sense of self-esteem or confidence; how could it when it was always obvious that I was not wanted, not cared for or loved.  Those feelings never left me, and are something I struggle with on a daily basis. Self-esteem, whether developed or not or whether crushed, is an incredibly hard thing to regain and rebuild, especially the older we get.

It doesn’t seem to matter what the reasoning is behind the “abandonment” either, whether it be a breakup or a death, or even just life circumstances that requires paths to part, it is all equally devastating. Now, I do realize that most people would be sad, perhaps even situationally depressed over these losses, but for me it is like a grenade exploded in my heart. It physically sets me into a panic attack. I feel like I cannot breathe because this incredible weight is crushing my lungs. My mind goes into instant survival mode as I instantly plummet into suicidal thoughts and a depression so deep it often lasts for months.

I truly don’t know how to get over a fear which is innate.

The best way I can describe Borderline Personality Disorder is to imagine that every nerve in your body is related to an emotion, and instead of them being buried under your skin, they all are exposed, so even the simplest of issues can send the most intense pain shooting through your heart and soul. A comment or even a wrong look can start an emotional searing that eventually hits all nerves and the pain becomes overwhelming. Now that is only with a small thing, so you can only imagine the magnitude of the devastation that comes from abandonment. For me, it is the be all and end all as it touches every exposed nerve I have, sending me into a frenzy, which leads me down the road of depression, and the cycle, continues, over and over again.

I truly don’t know how to get over a fear which is innate. It is as much a part of my being as my eyes or arms. It is not a fear I can step up and challenge; the whole face your fears thing does not work in this case. How do you prepare for someone to leave you? How do you cover your nerves with a sheath that protects against that intensity of pain? You can’t. The only thing you can do is make the choice whether getting attached and those subsequent advantages are going to outweigh the damage of abandonment. I have let very few people in, however the risk of them leaving weighs heavily on me each day, so I turn to them for reassurance, to finally learn to trust the meaning behind the words “I won’t leave you.”

Jody Betty is a guest blogger for SickNotWeak who, in her own words, is a master at the art of survival. She lives with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is co-afflicted with MDD, Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She has survived three serious suicide attempts and a handful of overdoses which lets her know it isn’t her time. You can read her blog “Raw and Open” posted bi-weekly on Thursdays on SNW.

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Our mental health warrior, Jody 🙂

Len Ross (@Leonard11981074)
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Thank you again, Jody, for sharing so fully and eloquently. Apart from the usual “romantic” dumpings, I have been lucky with family and marriage. Other fears, though, have not been kind to me. Most recently, I became fearful when my psychologist suggested she might discharge me. Suddenly, the professional most responsible for my MH recovery was “äbandoning” me. I needed to meditate about this in detail and discuss with others. The result was to consider that, with my MI, … Fear triggered anxiety and anxiety triggered depression. Therefore, fear of “abandonment” by my psychologist could have been enough to “back-slide” my recovery badly. My final consultation with her is now next Monday! No fear … Just a little sadness!
NO comparison to your multiple abandonments, but it did cause fear in me.

I love your sharing. Jody! … I need it!

Tom
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Thank you Jodie for expressing your feelings in such a way that a light bulb is going off in my head and you have reduced this ‘big strong guy that has shit together’ apparently to a slobbering idiot…
I am not even sure why I am the way I am but it is getting worse and worse by the day…
I realize I have been suffering from some form of mental illness now for a long time but cannot put my finger on what that is until now… it may have something to do with abandonment as well??? I lost my mom to cancer when I was younger and my father not that many years later and have no siblings etc…I can barely keep my head above water these days.
But many of the symptoms or signs you mentioned is me… about relationships etc. I never let anyone in ….. I have zero trust in people and maybe even worse I often think they are trying to screw me in some way…
I have been in many relationships but none have been overly successful… I am completely scared of getting married… that if me gf brings it up it is time to break up….
I have not regressed from enjoying many things I have enjoyed all my life, going to the gym, my dog and my cat, hanging with friends and family, playing sports, etc.
I have no energy to do anything which is the snowball effect of less you do the less energy you have to change…
I have a really hard time with noise, I like being in silence. No TV or radio, no talking, just utter silence…
I am not sure how I get to work as I don’t even enjoy that anymore as work has always been a safe place where I could get some feeling of accomplishment and proud of what I was able to do… not anymore… I work at my desk and rarely leave it until it is time to go home … which is tough as I lead major government projects and have meetings to attend and conference calls to make… exhausting.
I am not sure how long I can keep this up…
Weekends I do not get out of bed and my gf does not understand why I am so tired or have no ‘drive’ … she wants me to get a physical.
I do not have the ability to do anything seriously dangerous, but at the same time if my life came to an end today I would find that peaceful….

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