The fear of joy

You’ll be forgiven if you looked at the title and thought “don’t be so silly, you can’t fear joy.”  I must admit before reading those words in black and white and being able to correspond the explanation to my own thoughts, I felt the same.  Following on from my recent discovery of my life of guilt, I wanted to find ways to understand why I had managed to live 36 years feeling guilty and how to be free.  A friend of mine Ian, kindly took the time to send me a link to a YouTube video about vulnerability.  What a timely link!  The video, which by the way is at the bottom of my blog post on guilt, reiterated so much of what Debs and I had spoken about.  I felt compelled to buy the speaker’s (Brene Brown) book.

Brene Brown bookThis week I’ve had the opportunity to pick it up and begin reading it.  I’ve not got very far through the book, but my goodness has it thrown yet more of my dark thoughts into the light – I FEAR JOY!

Before you think I’ve completely gone off my rocker, I will explain with the most vivid and reoccurring example.

When Little J was born,  I remember saying to Keith, I’m so worried something bad is going to happen.  I didn’t feel worthy enough to being the mother of three healthy, happy children.  Of having a loving husband, a beautiful home, a great group of mummy friends.  I lived (live) in constant fear something is going to happen to burst my bubble.  Every time I feel happy about life, fear fills my body and I worry about what is going to go wrong.  The worry isn’t really without explanation, as in all honesty, life has been rather challenging – for some reason I feel safer in times of trouble. – but it’s wrong!

I’ve been concerned about Little J for the last week.  He has been acting very out of character.  Much more emotional, angry, irrational.  I couldn’t put my finger on why.  Sunday night came the revelation.  During his bedtime chat, as I was sitting in the chair at the end of his bed,  he asked me, “Why did Grandad George die?”  Good question I thought, but how do I answer it?  I explained Grandad George was a good age and his body got very poorly.  I wasn’t expecting his response. “Mummy when will you go to heaven?” followed by deep, deep sobbing and a barrage of questions and statements like “Mummy, don’t talk to God then he won’t want you to be with him.”

My poor little 3 year old boy is feeling really vulnerable and he doesn’t know how to deal with it.  I don’t know how to deal with it, so how can I expect him to.  I am learning though.  To feel joy you have to be vulnerable.  And in this vulnerability, you can either express gratitude or push it away and feel fear, shame, anger, jealousy etc.

Maybe some people can go through life without feeling this way.  I really hope they do.  But for me, I need to learn how to be grateful when I feel joy, instead of scared.  I have a feeling Little J is as sensitive as I am.  I hope I am able to teach him how to embrace life instead of blag his way through.


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