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I'm Afraid

Perhaps I should “take a gamble that love exists and do a loving act.”

Generally, when people talk about their fears or what they are afraid of, it’s trivial things like spiders or scary movies. But, beyond our deeply embedded innate instinct towards the proverbial snake in the garden and dragon in the lair, arises some fear and trembling that can’t be danced away by scary monsters and nice sprites.

I’m talking about the fears of abandonment, of isolation, of not being loved, of loneliness, of death, of time, of humiliation, of ostracisation, of being yourself, of retribution, of damnation (religious or otherwise), of a meaningless existence, of the state of humanity.

All of the aforementioned have hit me at some point and some are still with me now presently – of which I’m sure some of you will empathise. However, to discuss that entire list properly would take longer than most people’s working week and since I’m afraid of losing readers, I’ll refrain from doing so. What I have done in the paragraph above is linked a number of other articles I’ve written containing these themes which you can explore at your own leisure and what I will do now is talk about a select few that I feel are (more) pertinent to this week’s post.

Let’s start with *spins wheel* oh yes, everyone’s favourite – fear of abandonment. Not even the most independent and introverted among us would like to have those closest to them leave. That’s not to say we all suffer from the overwhelming worry of being abandoned, but it can develop in any one of us and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in an intimate relationship. One way this can manifest itself is in excessive people pleasing, that is, trying to say and do things all the time to make the other person happy. This type of behaviour can also be teamed together with the excessive pleaser placing a significant amount of their self-worth in the person they are trying to please, thus compounding the problem when the person does not respond positively to their behaviour. Their need to be loved and wanted and their fear of this person leaving/not providing this, really can play havoc on their mental state (not to mention the relationship/friendship/relation). This excessive need to please the other person can also have a counterproductive effect and push the other person away from them and, if they are not aware, they might try and double their efforts as a result, inducing a snowball effect.

As I have said in previous posts, we must try and shift that value of self-worth and “locus of control” internally as opposed to externally (you may recall this in my post on “External Validation”). We must trust that our love is going to be reciprocated.

We must learn to…

“Take a gamble that love exists and do a loving act.”

Speaking of, the above three minute scene from Rockstar’s acclaimed video game Red Dead Redemption II featuring a conversation between its main protagonist, Arthur Morgan, and Sister Calderon covers quite nicely a number of the aforementioned things I’m afraid of (or at least have been at some point), both directly and indirectly.

Please watch the video, but for the uninitiated – incoming spoilers, you have been warned – Arthur contracts tuberculosis and is confronted with his own mortality. Reflecting on his life as an outlaw (and as a child), he passes an evaluation on both and is uncertain of his direction in life with his now certain limited future. Sister Calderon tries to reflect back to Arthur what she sees in him (a man who is happy helping people) which contradicts Arthur’s evaluation of himself, but reassures him in that she has doubts about life and what it all means too. Arthur then demonstrates an immense vulnerability by saying “I guess I…I’m afraid” and that armour of a hardened outlaw dissolves immediately. To which the Sister replies, “there is nothing to be afraid of” and that he should “take a gamble that love exists and do a loving act.”

It’s a truly memorable scene in the game, highlighting that whilst life is full of pain, there is also love and beauty. It is not a coincidence that Arthur has his revelation talking to an agent of the divine (Sister Calderon). He questions the morality of his actions and meaning of his life (which he does more and more as the game progresses). He expresses his feelings of isolation, loneliness and a lack of love with his childhood and love life. Once again it is not a coincidence that Arthur is alone for this conversation, away from the gang. And at a train station (having just sent another man onto a new path in life and about to wave goodbye to Sister Calderon on her new mission), symbolising the crossroads that Arthur is at in his life and the new journey he will/must choose to take should he truly seek his redemption.

I guess it comes down to knowing who you are and who you aren’t. Realising that it is never too late to try and improve yourself and live a better/good life. To confront your fears, to confront what you are afraid of, to stare down the barrel of the gun (single barrel or double barrel, it doesn’t matter). And perhaps we should take a leaf out of Sister Calderon’s book and gamble on love and act from our hearts.

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