I Fear I Have Nothing to Give

I used to fear roller coasters, so much so, that it’s a wonder how I approach them differently now.

I was thinking today about the time, last year, that my family dragged me on the giant metal slide at the Big E – the kind in which you sit on a burlap sack and then you fly. That’s just it. That feeling in your stomach, that I now know as unique and sort of like the roller coaster feeling – but without the twists and turns. Down the hills and valleys. Des screamed in my ear so loudly I heard ringing, but he loved it. LOVED it. I used to fear the smallest roller coaster. Now I walk onto bigger, non-kiddie roller coasters without a word. My body is a hothouse of loose wires and pounding hearts and breathless gasps.

It’s all in the approach, though. Facing forward. Head up. Talk less. Smile more.

I used to fear lions and tornados, but never lions and tigers, and not even bears – although I’ve gotten dangerously close to them – with their hot breath behind every corner and tree. I used to fear vomit, to the point of phobia – with all of these, actually – but I had kids and sometimes I approach it all the same way I approach roller coasters, although SO MUCH without the fun. Facing forward. Head up. Talk less. Smile more. Even when my body is a hothouse of loose wires and pounding hearts and breathless gasps. Some fears are easy to get over. Others aren’t, but gosh, isn’t it fun on the other side of them?

Some fears, it seems I won’t get over. They’re deeper, darker, more sinister. The voices are louder and more menacing. I protest and I face forward, head up, talking less, smiling more – sometimes all loose and hot with wires and hearts and gasps. Other times, I feel nothing. The voices are more convincing. I think there are some things I’ll never truly get over. I’ll work with it like clay – molding it hot and ready – sculpting, perfecting, kneading, needing, wanting, getting. At other times that clay has dried and cracked – and no amount of warm water can bring it back the same way. I struggle. Too much.

In a world of invisibility. I retreat further, every time. I’ll never get over some hang ups and hang ons. I’ll never feel enough. That little girl who learned how to disappear so much and so often, that it grew beyond her control. Well then she grew up and got high on life and wore the brightest colors and the funkiest leggings and she smiled at everyone. She didn’t talk less – she talked more. Her shoulders back, her chest puffed out. It only lasts until it lasts. I come back to it every time – I’m invisible. And I’m fading. It’s been a particularly bad bout lately, despite most evidence to the contrary. Not all, but most.

I can disappear within my own family and I know there’s no way they can’t see me, but I can’t even see me, so how can they? I can disappear within one of my jobs and it’s probably 50% me, and also a hearty 50% them. And I can be in a group of three or more and think I’m the weakest link there. I think I’m nothing. I know I’m disappearing. And I fear.. I have nothing to give. I wrote a poem once. This poem is from 1993. My 8th grade Literature teacher asked us to rewrite Langston Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred.” Everyone did theirs differently than I did – bubblier or something. More that they listened to the assignment. I’ll never forget the way she looked up and looked me in the eye and said, “This. Is GOOD.” And I was unbroken.

The Lost Dream

The lost dreams sits in the shadowy corners of the mind
waiting hopefully to be remembered
hoping it won’t be swept away and digested in the brain
eagerly waiting to be revived
Where does a lost dream go?
Does it scurry away like a scared mouse or shrivel
like a snail?
Does it melt away like an ice cube,
or burst like a bubble?
Would it burn into ashes like leaves in the fire
or turn frozen from the cold and never change back?
Do lost dreams blow away like leaves in the Fall
or evaporate into the air and come back
as different dreams?
Will it escape to the mountains and stay away
for a long while
for to only come back if remembered?
Does it fade away slowly like a rainbow
or disappear like a ghost in the dark night?
Will it go above the horizon
to explore the world above
or shoot up to the sky to become a twinkling star?
Will it become a lost cause or ancient memory
or just become a nothing?
Or will it fly to be free and travel to
other people’s minds?
The lost dream runs away thinking no one cares.
It runs and runs never to stop.
It will often feel alone and easy,
but it knows it must never come back.

It’s funny that it still happens, after being in demand 24/7 with two kids, and three jobs, and a husband who hasn’t always expressed himself clearly – as I haven’t – but I know would be lost without me. And the way I use the camera and the computer screen as shields, and have come to a point, where I arrive in public – blinking in the sunlight and basking in the conversations. It’s because they’re novel – after hours spent alone. And the biggest part of my heart knows that my worst fears are not true. The family needs me as I need them. Every now and then I remember to put myself into this unfolding, fully, and make it so that you can see more than just my shadow. We fill each other in. We hold each other up. No fear.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “I’m really afraid that/of…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.

What do you fear?

About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer, a mama of two, a Lifestyle Blogger/Social Media Influencer/Brand Ambassador, and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns, the Stigma Fighters Anthology (volume 1), and The HerStories Project: So Glad They Told Me. She is also a proud Community Lead and a regular contributor to the SoFab Food blog, and the Target Made Me Do It blog. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son, dog, cat, and 11 chickens in glorious western Massachusetts.


I Fear I Have Nothing to Give — 27 Comments

  1. Aw, Tamara I most definitely have times like these and what brings me around and back is just being able to write and get a bit inside my head. Even if I don’t necessarily publish it to my blog. It still just helps to get my thoughts out and feel less lost (if that makes sense). Another thing that helps is reading a great book to just escape all the craziness altogether and be transported into another world, too.

  2. Love the poem from the 8th grade, it sounds very mature. I got goosebumps at “This is GOOD” from your teacher. I might have to put teacher compliments under my lists of “better than anything” for next week. They can make or break you, I’m glad you became unbroken.

    For the record, I feel I’ll always be afraid of vomit!

  3. I try to just redirect my thinking when I start to go down the rabbit hole. If there is nothing I can do about it, I try to give it to God, and then put it in a box. My biggest fears these days are always for my children… their health, their safety, their protection from violence. But they are both far away, and this is more of an anxiety than a rational fear. I think we all struggle, so clearly it is part of the human condition. That said, snakes aren’t my favorite.

  4. It’s hard for me to remember that, no matter what I think I’m holding back or attending in half-there ways, my kids just need my BODY to be there, at minimum. They want quantity time as much as they want quality time. It’s a balm to me and to them just to be together. Maybe it’s the same for you.

  5. Some days I wish to disappear to, but then I realize how much my children need me present, body, mind and eyes! Oh, the eyes. If I’m not watching, they will let me know. I loved your poem, and I agree. It is good!

  6. Very well done, Tamara! I don’t know the original poem, but yours is a powerful treatise.

    Fear is the mind-killer is a mantra of mine. It focused my mind and saved my life once while flying into a storm. I constantly work on pushing back the constricting power of fear. It seems you have found your way to do this also.

    Fear can’t be killed, but it can often be tamed. Sometimes we even get the gift of joy on the other side of our fears.

  7. ‘That place’ is surely one of the worst places.

    One of the simplest, most astoundingly beneficial aspects of being here in this virtual world is the opportunity to encounter ‘others of my kind’*.
    We almost always recognize each other. Usually, we signal our common experiences by showing our quirky and creative sides. It’s a fun sharing. Secret handshakes with virtual hands.

    The less ‘fun’ but paradoxically very positive benefit has to do with ‘that place’. Or, more to the point, our personal experiences with it.
    We see each other disappear slowly (as you eloquently write) and we see others (of our kind) as we return, slowly, like an old-fashioned television warming up.
    The thing is, I have watched others go and return. I take…. not hope, (because hope does not exist in ‘that place’) its more that I take the simple fact that another person like myself, a person I identify with, comes out of that place.
    (In the interest of description for those fortunate enough to wonder what the heck I am going on and on about)…there is a place where there is only one voice and it speaks of the futility of our effort to be …whatever. Since there is only room for one voice, what it says must be true. (Our effort to argue or contest wilts before the power of ‘ “well, here we are again.))

    Anyway…after reading your post, I know one more person who has gone to that place and has returned. That creates a slight, but significant change within me. To my benefit.
    Thank you.

    * clarks, of course

  8. You’re amazing and I, too go “there.” It’s a scary place for sure… I LOVE your poem. And that your teacher’s encouragement unbroke you. Amazing how much those small encouragements stick with us. Oh, and we got Tucker the $50 wand at Harry Potter too. 😀 So glad you linked up!

  9. Your writing really spoke to me. It is so beautifully written. I love the lines,”The family needs me as I need them.” and “We fill each other in. We hold each other up. No fear.” Your photos added so much too.

  10. This is beautiful!! I LOVE the roller coaster comparison. I am the same in a way, I hate roller coasters but it took having kids for me to even give it a chance. These kids really do change us huh? Loved the poem. Families really do have a way of filling each other in.

  11. Beautifully written! I think we all need to retreat in the shadows every now and then. Fear can absolutely reign if we give it the power, and honesty, sometimes we weaken and do so. But I believe as we conquer them, our shell and spirit toughens so we can help our families and friends when they need it.

  12. I enjoyed your post. It resonated. Invisibility is a real thing. Crazy sounding to most folks surely. And yet, I know those times (rare as they may be) where, in the middle of a group of people, it is as if I do not exist. Conversation travels “around” me. I am not considered as participating in any sense of the word. It is on odd feeling. But I accept that it happens, marvel at myself (but do not blame myself) afterwards and then ponder what contributes to the “phenomenon”. Because, I must be to blame right? lol That is the voice that used to play in my younger, less enlightened mind. It’s me, not them 😀
    You wrote a very powerful piece for one so young. But then, you know you were always “older’ than your peers.
    Fear. It is ever present. It’s good to acknowledge, proper to confront and liberating to overcome.

  13. Ah, you know I soak in every profound word when you offer us these intimate views inside your heart. SO much of it resonates with me, despite our different experiences. So much of it is in all of us- the fear, the invisible days, the longing and loathing and battle within to center ourselves with peace and purpose and strength and worth.

    I think in all of us, those grappling emotions and dark corners we hide in and sometime run to- are a part of all our lives, our inner sanctuary that breathes freely at times and suffocates us in other unexpected moments. It can be so very hard, so very easy, and so very extraordinary.

    Thank you T, for allowing us into your world.

  14. I hear you. You can’t disappear though, sometimes we just flicker in and out and burn less brightly. Hopefully some good magic sauce for reappearing will come your way soon. Hugs to you lady!

  15. I have a lot of fears, some of them seem like stuff you won’t think someone would be afraid of, but I do for some reason have the fear. Learning to overcome them is something that I hope I can do one day.

  16. This is so beautiful my friend.

    I have a few fears… and if left unchecked, they can turn into paralyzing, gut-wrenching anxiety.

    You know me… my fear of flying and spiders. My irrational fear of belly buttons. But nothing tops the fear of my husband or children dying before I do. I know… it’s morbid but it terrifies me.

    Thanks for sharing such raw beauty here.

  17. I love what you did with this prompt, Tamara, and always SO VERY MUCH appreciate you and your delicious language <3 It's beautiful.

    Also, is the line (and thread throughout about fear) an homage to that Sarah McLachlan song? It's what I keep hearing while listening. Reading while hearing. Also, this one: "…isn’t it fun on the other side of them?" Yes. To walk through fears and find yourself on the other side is such an unbelievably liberating feeling; like nothing else in this world. I'm so grateful to you for getting on those kiddie and big kiddo roller coasters and potato sacks (wut?!) and face your fears in the stupid face. Sometimes they have less power that way, ya know?

    And your family. You all complete each other, like a beautifully woven quilt. Each adding something different 🙂

  18. “The family needs me as I need them.” I have to remind myself of that too – I think being unneeded or unimportant is a huge fear for most of us, whether we admit it or not. You have so much to give, Tamara, and I’ve witnessed you change and grow over the years just by reading your words.

    And the vomit thing? I could never clean up anyone’s…except my kids.

  19. I hear you re: invisibility and feeling like the weakest link. The devil is a liar! We have to do a daily work of reminding ourselves that those fears are mostly imagined. Coming out of the shadows into the light daily is a brave and often terrifying work, but it’s so worth it. As you said, our families and friends need us and see us in a far different light.

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