Fear of God, Fear of Others, Fear of Myself…
Here we go… Let’s handle this topic cautiously! In my last post, I spoke about the unconscious power of words (click here to read it) and mentioned I’d tell you all about the conditioning of fear in my life. This is very personal and the only reason I am sharing is in the hope of helping others face their fears.
I didn’t realize how fear impacted my life so negatively until a few years back. It struck me at a very specific moment. I was just out the monks, sitting in a French café with my then spiritual advisor. I was sharing with him the joy I experienced by the simple fact of wearing jeans. He was listening with a smile and while looking deep into my eyes, he said: “Don’t you realize how fear is paralyzing your whole life?” Wow, that was hard to take! What’s the deal? I tell you about my jeans and you just hit me with an unexpected straight jab! Yet, as surprised and shook as I was, I knew he was right.
For as far as I can remember, fear dominated me. Fear took on various forms or faces in my life, but no matter how it manifested itself, it always ended up conditioning me in subtle ways. I grew up in a divorced household, where I was dangling between a super conservative Italian family and a super loose (for lack of other words) French-Canadian family. I needed to learn fast how to handle both sides in diplomatic ways. Things like a simple earring was fine on my mother’s side and looked upon badly by my dad’s side … so imagine all the rest! To summarize the idea, my French-Canadian family was more of the “live and let live” mentality, while my Italian family was more the critical type.
This soon led me to fear my Italian family and even fear my dad. They represented the authority and the reprimands. I know that this may sound silly for many, but when you grow up not seeing your dad often and, moreover, fearing him, you become fragile and over sensitive. Any form of criticism plays with your insecurities. Please know that I’m not blaming my Italian family for my fears, nor my French-Canadian family as a matter of fact. The point I’m trying to make is how this family situation created a predisposition in me.
Because of the sufferings and fights surrounding my parents’ divorce and how they handled it, I was in a constant inner struggle for loyalty. I somehow felt I wasn’t truly loved and needed to deserve love more than receive it freely. Probably unconsciously, my dad was creating this, making me feel I needed to love him more than my mom. It was almost the: “love me more or I’ll be hurt” type of manipulation. I don’t need to explain more, you can all imagine how that conditioned my life in many ways.
From Dad to God
With time, I replaced my dad, who passed away when I was eight years old, by God in my life. I’m sure you get the point! Since I feared my dad, I now feared God. I basically and unconsciously created a god of my own and he became my superego. I suddenly had the urge to please god (notice he has no capital g). I needed to be sure that all I did would make me deserve his love. I needed to stay in line, be obedient and conservative, because I couldn’t risk gambling with his love and risking hell as my only destiny.
Now picture this core “element” projected onto my daily life and onto others! My whole life, my decisions, my clothes, the way I spoke … were all an attempt to be loved. For me, remarks and criticisms were rejection. In fact, I feared rejection more than the repeated gunshots in my neighbourhood. I often thought of suicide because of how unhappy I was trying to live my whole life waiting to be loved.
My insecurity about love was so strong that I always felt I was on an ejection seat. I even struggled to love myself. My weight, my financial status, my loss of hair … were enough to make me hate myself. I felt as if I needed the perfect appearance and the perfect life to be loved and valued.
I truly believe that my parishioners loved me as a parish priest. I’d often receive compliments for my homilies or the way I celebrated mass. Yet, once the church doors closed, I was convinced that all that love was fake and superficial. I often repeated to friends and family: “If only they knew who I truly am, they’d cast me aside.”
So, who was I? Who am I? I’ve been through years of pilgrimages, therapy and meditation to figure it out! After years of worshipping a fake god, I needed to step away from the priesthood to find myself outside dogmas and all the dos and don’ts.
I needed to experience life for myself and not to please others, to learn to accept my failures, to love my deepest wounds and embrace my insecurities to find a way out of depression and suicidal tendencies. I could have easily blamed situations and people for my pain, but I knew, deep down inside, that the conditioning of fear led me to accept these treatments, because I did not love myself to begin with.
It was such a hard path to follow. I’ve encountered my demons and confronted all my fears and convictions. But I finally learned how to embrace who I truly am: ME!
Let me get back to you on this topic in my next post. There is one more fear I’d like to talk about. To be honest, I am afraid to write about it, but hey, what’s the point of sharing my journey if I don’t grow through it as well. Make sure you subscribe to my blog, so you don’t miss my next post.