Fear is more prevalent in regular decision-making than we give credit. Fight or flight is not exclusive to times of conflict. Fear is a learned survival mechanism. Fear dictates how we conduct our lives. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem lies in the following:
- not being able to admit to yourself that you fear at all
- not being able to perceive what it is that your fear ultimately
- making excuses for not confronting fear
- thinking that we can be successful at anything without facing fear
I will illustrate this point with multiple examples.
A person stays in an abusive relationship from age 17 to 38 due to fear. She may say that it’s because she takes her vows seriously, she may say that she doesn’t believe in divorce, she may say she is doing it for the kids, she may say that things are getting better, but consider this:
- you may take your vows very seriously, but marriage is reciprocal; just one person can’t be all in; just one person cannot honor their vows. When it’s all said and done, at the least what one should have in a marriage from their partner is respect.
- you may not believe in divorce but do you believe in murder. Do you know the statistics for women in jail behind killing/seriously injuring their abuser? This is applicable to men as well, but more often women. And you may not believe in divorce, but do you believe in wasting your life being unhappy?
- you may say you’re doing it for the kids, but it’s a fact that you are probably doing more harm than good. Divorce and single parents are too frequent and common to still be using this excuse. Women are no longer required to be housewives and dependents. What you are doing is teaching your child how to stay in a toxic relationship.
- you may say things are getting better…he hasn’t done that in awhile, but you already know what the person is capable of. Domestic conflicts only escalate. If you thought it was bad last time, one time it’s going to be worse than that. That day will be one that you regret for the rest of your life.
What is really going on is fear. Fear of standing on your own as an adult and a mother. Having spend more than half your life and your entire adulthood with the same partner through thick and thin (or thick and thicker), you develop codependence. You cannot imagine who you would raise the children on your own, or how to explain the separation without making them resent one of you. There is fear of the unknown. Only once you acknowledge and accept that fear can you address it. Thing is, more people than not will just put up with it.
“Wisdom is knowing what to do next. Virtue is doing it.” ~ David Starr Jordan