Stuck Between Stagnation and Fear

My recent move from Connecticut to North Carolina made clear to me that I live between two states, stagnation and fear.  When I feel stagnant I move to change my situation but when my situation changes I experience fear and seek safety.  The safety eventually becomes stagnant and the cycle repeats itself.  For me, both stagnation and fear are intertwined with humiliation.  When I am stagnant I feel humiliation because I feel like I should be moving forward.  The humiliation of stagnation is a safe place for me even though it feels dead.  When I move out of my comfort zone by striving for more than this I risk a more intensive humiliation because somewhere along the line I learned that failure is shameful.  This risk brings about fear.

In 2009 I was laid off from a large law firm in Philadelphia.  I worked their for eight years and hated it.  I had wanted to quit because I was not growing professionally but was afraid to quit because I was afraid of having less money.  This was the humiliation of stagnation.  It felt safe to stay in a job that I hated because I feared taking a risk by leaving.  At the same time my marriage was horrible – probably because I hated my job.  I had financial problems despite my income.  The stress was overwhelming. I became depressed and suicidal (not that I acted on that feeling).  I craved the feeling of safety.  Although being laid off was a relief at first it began to feel unsafe because I had more expenses than income.

So my wife and I rented our house in Philadelphia and moved in with my parents in Connecticut.  In the beginning, although I felt a certain level of humiliation living with my parents my stress level definitely declined.  It was safe.  Comparatively speaking it was emotionally a much better place for me.  Since that time we worked on our marriage, we both obtained new jobs and after a bunch of life changing therapy we were in a position to move out.

As the time for moving approached I felt the fear returning.  Before the move, my mind would race at night about all the things I had to do and all the money I would have to spend.  After the move I stressed about getting furniture for our new place and all the money I spent.  I also felt a level of humiliation for not having our place set up for a week.  I see now that moving beyond my comfort zone makes me fearful and so I seek safety.  I see that safety is a relief and feels good at first.  Eventually safety feels stagnant and confining and I yearn to move forward.  But as the day approaches to actually move the fear kicks in and attempts to stop me.

But on the other side of fear is feeling alive.  And so in order to feel alive I have to be willing to feel fear and not retreat back to safety.  Historically, I have not been willing to do this.  This time around I choose to go through the fear and see what happens.  Hopefully aliveness is on the other side.

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1 Comment

Filed under Psychology

One response to “Stuck Between Stagnation and Fear

  1. Pingback: Feelings Associated With Shame | Winston Scrooge

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