It takes a brave man to admit that he is afraid. Most of us hate to admit that we are ever afraid. Living in addiction and alcoholism, we have likely done plenty of terrifying things. We tell people who don’t understand and they are shocked.
When we tell people in recovery our story, they don’t seem surprised at all. They know the truth, because they have felt exactly as we did. In taking the 12-Steps, they were able to admit that much of their actions and much of their lives were propelled by fear.
At first, it can be shocking to see a man who seems so strong admit that he was afraid – afraid of dying in his addiction, afraid of losing his family or job, afraid of his feelings. But then we realize that his strength comes from his ability to admit his fear and face it through the work of the 12-Steps.
We see that he gets freedom from his fears when he takes them through this process. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
“I’m Not Afraid”
Bravado is a common characteristic of men in general, let alone those who suffer from alcoholism and addiction. We have done – and survived – crazy things. We may often think to ourselves, “I’m not afraid.” But recovery asks us to take a good look at ourselves.
What is underneath our destructive alcoholism and addiction? Could our anger and hostility possibly be hiding the fact that we are afraid of something? Could being the “lone wolf” type really be a cover-up for the fact that we’re afraid of getting close to people because we don’t want to get our feelings hurt if they leave us? The answer is usually “yes” – but again, it takes a brave man to admit it. If you’re here and reading this, you’re already braver than you know.
In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it says that we are “driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity.” These things drive our addiction and behavior. When we let ourselves be subconsciously driven by fear and its friends, we often end up suffering greatly.
The book goes on to say “we think fear ought to be classed with stealing, it seems to cause more trouble.” It calls fear “an evil and corroding thread” and says “the fabric of our existence was shot through with it.” So maybe you really aren’t afraid – or maybe you’re just like all the rest of us.
Being afraid is part of being human, but fear does not have to be this destructive thing we hide from or avoid by acting out in harmful ways. Fear is one of the major things we learn to deal with as we walk the 12-Steps.
How To Overcome Fear
First, as we did with our alcoholism and addiction, we must admit our fears. We go through the 4th and 5th Steps with our sponsor to address our fears. These Steps do a great deal to help ease and even remove our fears. The 12-Step literature says we must have faith when it comes to dealing with fear.
As we ask our higher power to remove our fear and direct our minds to doing the right thing, we begin to outgrow fear. Spiritual connection – even if just to the 12-Steps themselves – can lead to a spiritual dependence that lessens the power of fear over us to almost nothing.
As we do the work of the 12-Steps at Jaywalker Lodge, we begin to live life differently. In fact, we begin to live in a different world. It becomes okay to tell another man that we are afraid of something. That man can often relate, and will likely share how he overcame a similar fearful situation.
It becomes freeing to experience anger or sadness, take a closer look at it, and realize that it’s just covering up fear – a fear that we can take to the 12-Steps, to our sponsor, to our higher power, and then be rid of it. As we face our fears head-on, with help, we begin to lessen the impact of many other negative emotions as well.
Don’t Fear Imaginary Concerns
Our minds are magnificent machines, especially the minds of us alcoholics and addicts. We have wonderful imaginations. There is a downside, however. We often imagine things are far scarier than they really are, or we simply live in fear of completely imaginary events or circumstances. We fear our boss may fire us because he acted coldly, when in truth he just didn’t sleep well the night before.
We can dwell on our made-up fear for days and rob ourselves of happiness and usefulness. Many of the things we fear so greatly are paper tigers, things that appear frightening but fall over and disappear in a gentle breeze. Yet our fear causes us to act out, often harming ourselves or others in unexpected ways.
Everybody gets afraid from time to time, but alcoholics and addicts are usually gravely affected by fear. If we are willing to face our fears and look honestly at ourselves through the 12-Step process, our fears should fall away from us.
Fear can be the engine of many destructive habits and behaviors. Depression, aggression, and isolation can all be caused or worsened by fears that are unresolved. When combined with alcoholism and addiction, these conditions can be impossible to overcome alone. Using the 12-Step program and proven therapeutic methods, Jaywalker Lodge helps people reach past their fears to find the healthy, happy life they deserve. Call us today at (866) 529-9255.
As Chief Executive Officer Bill provides leadership and manage all day-to-day operations of Jaywalker Lodge, an extended care residential addiction treatment program for adult men.