Primal. Visceral. Instinctive. Fear lives in the oldest part of our brain, the limbic system. The lizard brain.
Fear lives in the same part of the brain that governs addiction and so it is not surprising that fear and addiction often go hand in hand. Or that addiction and trauma have such strong links.
But Fear is also the master of disguise. We often don’t recognize that a strong emotion we feel is really a mask for fear.
I was reminded of this tonight when I discovered that the bottle of antibiotic capsules prescribed for my son had become a gelatinous form because they’d been exposed to water. Anger rose up. I asked him if he knew what had happened. He said no. Frustration filled my chest.
A familiar sense that he wasn’t telling the truth took over. I started to let my anger show, but contained it. Briefly, the thought of a drink ran through my mind and was gone.
As I salvaged a few pills for the next few days, I reminded myself that we could call the pediatrician on Monday and get a new prescription called into a pharmacy here in North Carolina (we are visiting family for Easter) and that while it will be a hassle, and it will cost me more money, it won’t be a problem.
It’s a speed bump.
I also recognized that I really wasn’t angry, maybe a little frustrated, but not angry. I was afraid, and the fear was wearing the mask of anger.
What was I afraid of? Irrational things.
I feared that the Dr would refuse to send a new script. Probably not an issue with an antibiotic – if bit were an opiate it might be a different story. I feared that insurance wouldn’t cover it – and it might not but I’m blessed to be able to afford it. I feared that my son wouldn’t get better, that the Lyme Disease might not get arrested, but that’s not going to happen either.
As I realized that the anger was really fear, and that these were irrational fears, I softened. I was able to talk calmly to my son instead of interrogating him. And I hit got real story. He’d knocked the bottle into the sink and put the pills back in the bottle. Really it was my fault because I hadn’t actually put the cap on fully this morning and I set them near the sink.
And I also recognized that it was his fear that drove him to hide this when I’d first questioned him.
Fear. It’s powerful. It’s a trigger. It’s good at disguising itself. But I’m on to its crafty tricks these days. And I’ve got tools.
And when I use my tools, fear doesn’t stand a chance.