Eric Louie MDI Contributor
Moving on from fear…
I’ve been a good man over the years and had a very healthy respect for fear. In fact, I’ve been paralyzed by fear at certain points of my life. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of punishment. Fear of commitment. Fear of all sorts of things.
And I ended up being an alcoholic. The life I had as an alcoholic was a terrible mess. I drank out of fear of life, people, events, work, you name it, I was afraid of it. I got sober at 30 years old, and the fears were still there. How to overcome them became the challenge, the recovery, of my life. I began to learn about what motivated me and what scared me, and how to deal with fears without drinking.
Then at about five years sober, a friend invited me to an open house for something called the Sterling Men’s Weekend. I was interested only because of the changes he got as a result of taking the Weekend. Eventually, I agreed to register for the Weekend by saying “Yes, I want to take the Men’s Weekend.” [Note: Most of you used the short-hand 2-word method of agreeing to take the Men’s Weekend.]
Anyway, the registration, and creating the changes for the Weekend were a big deal, as many of you remember, and I had 3 changes, just like everyone who’s ever taken it. One of my changes was to “Get over my fear of women.”
I’d been divorced and had two young sons at the time. I lived in San Francisco. And I really did have a terrible fear of women. I didn’t know what to do with them. I got tongue tied and sweaty around them. It was so difficult that sometimes I just avoided them. I took the Men’s Weekend and there was NOT a miraculous change in me, but as time went on, I began to get more courage around women. And there was progress, as I started to understand that concept of “discovering and dissolving the barriers between you and manifesting that power.”
What happened to me in the process? I walked through the situations that used to terrify me, like asking a woman out for a date and risking rejection. I got rejected a few times. It hurt. I took it to the men that I trusted. There was no magic. There was only practicing and living through the things that scared me. And the more it happened, the less control it had over me. The more rejection I had, the easier it was to accept, and the less it hurt. And I got to celebrate the wins, when I didn’t let the fear control me, and when I was accepted, and when I had a healthier outlook on my behavior.
So what’s it like today? I can’t say I live “fear free.” I can say that those fears that used to control my behavior don’t affect me like that anymore. I will tell you that when I am scared, I feel completely free and open to take that to the men around me. And, normally, when I do that, I discover a few things:
- I am not alone – some other man has experienced it.
- Someone else has gotten over it.
- It’s not going to kill me to get through it.
- Things that I was afraid of before have become normal for me, and I can’t think of a single thing that really scares me anymore.
Thank you, men, for giving me a place to bring my stuff. Men on teams. Men in 12-step recovery. Men at work. I am much braver as a result of having you in my life.