I’m leaving but don’t leave me

I’m glad I’m analyzing my fears instead of shoving them away. I’ve had to do a lot of it in the past year. There is one specific fear that disguises itself as fear of loneliness and only surfaces when I am at my most stressed, my most exhausted, my most “not me”: fear of abandonment.

I could bring this back to my anxiety from 7th grade when I found out my mom had breast cancer the night before being sent to 2 weeks of sleep away camp with no contact with my family.

I could rationalize it and say it’s just a fear of change: change that everything will be so different when I get back that my life will be unrecognizable, change of my loved ones lives so drastically that they won’t need me in them anymore. This is why I always need to feel needed and helpful to my loved ones. They can’t leave if they need you right? They have to keep you around if they depend on you.

At the end of the day, this is pure fear of abandonment. I’m recognizing it, but it didn’t seem to stop the anxiety attack, which was made worse by days of no sleep and accidental stress-fasting. Then the biggest SoCal earthquake in 25 years right after? I know I feel a deep connection to the earth but come on.

I used to deal with this fear by closing myself off. By saying “it doesn’t matter if everyone moves on and no one cares about you because you have yourself and you don’t need others”, and this worked for awhile. But I don’t want to be so protective that I learn not to care. I want to care, and care deeply. It’s terrifying to care this much about people, to care this much about my relationship with one man that I considered scrapping the whole thing and not going to the peace corps. I mean, fear of abandonment is the reason I always leave right? If I leave first they don’t get the chance to do it to me! Is this just another decision made out of fear? Are these undue anxieties?

I’ve never questioned myself this much. And then to hear the words “if you have any reservations, do not get on that bus” during our first training . . . that made me feel sick to my stomach.

But PC did probably the best and most important thing they could have done: they had us outline our reasoning for commitment. I thought back to when I really committed last October, when I wanted this more than anything, in the height of a depressive winter, during the peak of confusion and fear about my life to come.

I trust this Charlotte. Even thought she didn’t know what the hell was going on, she always chooses to better herself, her career, and do everything she can to help others when she feels directionless.

I will continuously bring myself back to my purpose of doing this: I want to serve in a community where I am needed and helpful, I want to push myself to learn new skills of resilience, I want job training and career opportunities, I want to form deep personal connections with my fellow volunteers and host communities, I want to learn and change and challenge myself.

I will come back to these reasons when I am sitting in bed at night and feared grips me that I am too late, that by doing this I am effectively destroying any chance I have to be with someone I know I want to be with. That there will be no room for me in his life when I get back. I will sit with this sickening fear and try to trust myself that whatever happens will be alright. I will fit in to his life however much he wants me to when I return, or however little. I will trust that this is not the end, no matter how many times my brain tries to convince me it is.

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