Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fear and Loathing

I was glad to see two more inmates at our prison meeting last night. That made three, so there were at least more inmates than Al-Anon volunteers.

It was a good meeting.

Last month, my Al-Anon partner decided it might help to turn control of the meeting over to the inmates. So she gave a folder to the one inmate who attended our last meeting and that inmate seems to have taken her responsibility seriously.

Apparently, on another Monday, the Al-Anon volunteers didn’t come, so she held the meeting herself, with one other inmate.

It’s a humble beginning. But it’s a beginning. And there’s nothing wrong with humble.

I thought last night’s meeting was a good one. There was discussion on a number of topics, but it seemed that the common thread was fear.

I have heard fear described as a primary emotion, and that strikes me as true.

When I have any number of other emotions—resentment, anger—fear is what’s really at the bottom of all of it.

It makes sense to me that the daily inventory that was handed down through my line of sponsorship involves writing five things I’m grateful for and five things I fear every day, because those are two of the biggest things I struggle with as an Al-Anon, and they work in opposition to each other.

What I’ve come to believe in this program is that fear is simply a lack of faith. Because if I believe that God is in charge, that he knows what’s best for me, and that he has arranged everything in my life for my benefit. More than that, if I believe that he has arranged everything in the lives of everyone I love in the same way… Then I cannot be in fear. The only possible response is gratitude.

So for me, fear and gratitude are opposites, and the key to both is faith.

Faith is the greatest gift I’ve received in this program.

Of course, I didn’t just tell myself that one day and believe it. I’ve found that faith and gratitude are like muscles. They get stronger the more they are exercised. So I exercise them daily. I exercise my gratitude muscle with daily prayers of gratitude and with a written gratitude list.

I exercise my faith on my knees and in meditation. I exercised my faith by behaving as if I believed these things, and I found one day that I did. Because the other thing that I learned in this program is that I have to take actions for the feelings to follow. First, I had to try. Then I believed.


  1. Living with fear as the only constant is not living, it is existing. Listening without hearing. Breathing without smelling. Sleeping without resting. Letting go of fear allows a freedom to awaken the entire being. Ahhh, now this is living!

  2. You are a true inspiration! Thank you for sharing! It is nice you can substitute mind altering substances for LIFE Altering God! Careful, prayer is addictive!:-)

  3. Fear had been a cornerstone in my life for so long. It was amazing when that cornerstone got jostled around and I saw how many areas of my life that its tentacles reached into. Thank you for this wonderful message on faith based living and moving out of our fear.

  4. How inspiring these women determined to make their meeting happen. I applaud their efforts and hope it grows and grows. Fear has been a constant in my life for many years, taking on all kinds of forms of emotion, from sadness, depression, anger, denial. I believe it is all based out of fear for me. Great post.

  5. Fear is a crippling tool the enemy uses to keep us ineffective for God. The further I get in my own recovery, the less I fear because I know what God brought me out of. The self-loathing thing, that's a constant though. I suppose I should be greatful for the endless hours of work God puts into me in this area. If I wasn't worth something, would he really take the time to pefect me?

  6. Trusting God is the best thing that ever happened to me. It has given me so much freedom from needing to control people, places, and things in my life. It also sets me free to live the life God has for me....not worry so much about other's lives. God is in control.

    I loved this post...so much wisdom from life experience.


  7. Wo Kathy. Powerful words of truth. So glad the meeting was a good one. Seem like it was.

    I am in the early stages of trusting God more and more. Fear plays a big part that inhibits my full trust in Him. Life certainly would be easier and less stressful if I would put my all in all in trusting Him fully. Thank you for sharing. Amen.

  8. What a great post! And what a great idea to specifically name the fears (opposite the gratitude list) each day - so much can be done from there if you've called them out. Starting with specifically giving them to God. Thanks for sharing this insight!
    It's exciting to see your prison Al-Anon ministry come to fruition and slowing starting to sprout. You'll have a beautiful plant with blossoms before you know it!
    God bless.

  9. Kathy, I think the vollunteer work you do is absolutely amazing, and so needed. Anyone can fall, any of us can make a mistake... giving people a chance to see their better self is really a wonderful thing.

    I left an award for you at my blog. Come and get it when you have time.

  10. In the past year I have also come to realize that fear is the core emotion of our negative emotions. You made it so clear in this post...that it is a lack of faith! Thank you for this great post!

  11. Kathy, faith is the only thing that sustains me daily. That is the reason I get out of bed everyday. You are making a difference in the lives of people and you should really be proud.

  12. me too..faith is the greatest gift I've recieved. Without it...I wouldn't be here...wouldn't be alive...wouldn't have a life...a good life. Stay strong out there. You're the best. Sarah

  13. Kathy, thanks for writing this post. Fear has been a hard thing for me to let go of--the fear of rejection and abandonment. The young boy who is looking for approval from his father--that has worked its way into my reactions to living. But just knowing that my Higher Power is there and that I will be okay with faith helps me through the times when the fear comes back in waves.