I used to be afraid of speaking out my dreams. I used to be terrified of sharing them, which now seem to have only wasted opportunities.
Unlearning the childhood mantras have been excruciating yet necessary. The leftover echoes of people’s words seem to have shrunk, yet like lullabies to a child, the fear sung to me decades back continue to hold a small but prominent place in my mind.
I hear the echoes from a far distance and run further to safety. Yet, I am unable to fully outrun them, so I learned to hear the echoes without conforming to its demands — an action which still drains me.
Fear is like a phantom, invisible to the eye but tangible to the mind. We cannot see it, yet it haunts like a real person; tearing down to build generational bondages with words, a word.
Without thought, yet with intent, our lips kiss to create words. Some blossom like sunflowers; others are like thorns in a rose – beautiful and piercing. In that same ease, our thoughts stroll out of our minds to create feelings which tattoo themselves in the skin of our minds.
Memories of my childhood rush through the ajar door. They found a way out finally; I hear them say. The words start to take seed, “shut your mouth, as a child you cannot…”. “You think you know better than me?” “Quiet. You are too much to handle.” “You are a nobody.” “You are not wanted here. Go away.”
Words. Memories. Fear.
It will come to be that over time, I would conform to fear, shut my mouth and walk in the shadows of those taller than me. I stopped speaking my heart’s desire, my dreams and wants. I retreated inside my mind and built fortified rooms. I put time and passion into crafting a fear proof mind palace I would retreat and stay for as long as I wanted. A palace I would visit unconsciously while physically present. A place I freely played, laughed. A mind palace I could be anything, everything anytime I pleased without seeking permission or wanting for approval.
For years I stayed there, crafting more rooms. But then the rooms became smaller. My mind palace was shrinking, or was I outgrowing it?
In little time and much turbulence, I was pushed to poke my head out. It was there something strange happened...
I decided to be vulnerable and share a dream of mine!
I thought it was time to give it breath and released it from the thin air it paraded in. I could hear the familiar footsteps of fear change from walking to running. It’s coming!! I had starved it for so long and today was its feast. I ran like a gazelle from the snare of a leopard, bursting through the gates of my mind palace into the real world. Not looking back and knowing it was getting close. Then I jumped! I just jumped. With nothing to jump on or to, I just jumped.
I landed with half a breath left to spare, and in that same breath, and for the first time in forever, I spoke my dreams outside my mind – around someone other than myself.
I was released - although not quite free.
Their response was disheartening. Crushing. I looked to the left and saw fear grin from ear to ear. I wanted to run back into my mind palace, but I recognized that spirit too well and did something I’d never done before: push back, respond.
I responded with my feelings. I rejected their words and I stood my ground. Unmoved and unapologetic about how they now feel alone and ashamed.
We were both lonely and vulnerable; but achieved these feelings very differently. I remained unapologetic and stood still in my loneliness, shame, guilt and vulnerability.
I was alone again. But this time I was seen and heard; and that was what changed fear’s grin upside down. I conquered it.