I’m afraid again.
I should explain. For most of my life, I’ve lived with a pretty normal assortment of fears, ranging from tall roller coasters and bungee jumping to burglars and back-alley robberies. I wasn’t obsessed with or controlled by any of these fears, but they were there, inside my head.
In late 2012, I was carjacked at gunpoint in my own driveway in Washington, D.C. The police quickly caught the two carjackers and eventually gave me back my smashed and battered car. I was completely unharmed and was able to tell the men that I forgave them as they were sentenced to seven years apiece for their crime. But the episode marked a turning point for me.
I had seen one of my fears realized in a place where I felt safe and secure. But instead of making me more fearful, the incident freed me. Somehow, the knowledge that bad things can happen anywhere allowed me to release my fears and live in greater peace. Skydiving and roller coasters? Bring them on. When I traveled to Afghanistan on a war zone reporting assignment in 2014, I marveled at my freedom from anxiety or apprehension.
But now it seems my fears have returned in a different form. They started when we brought our daughter home from the hospital four months ago and intensified only recently when we started putting her to sleep in her own bedroom instead of in a cradle next to our bed.
I’m now afraid of so many things: of falling down concrete steps with her in my arms, of home intruders, of the dark shadows in the corners of her room. More than once, I have kicked myself after accidentally waking my sleeping baby up because I looked in just to make sure everything was okay.
When I catch myself feeling cold and nervous in my bed as I worry about my little one sleeping just feet away in another room, I have to shake my head. Love makes such fools out of us sometimes. It makes us dependent and needy and subject to fears we thought we’d conquered.
Worse yet, I know there will be even more opportunity for fear and pain and insecurity as my little one gets older and makes her own choices and spends more time away from my protective arms. And I know those days are fast approaching. It’s hard even to think about now.
Obviously, I’ll have to learn to break free of my fears once again, or even put them in perspective. This is just another side effect of loving someone so intensely and so completely.
This is one post that it’s hard to wrap up in a neat conclusion. Since love is sometimes hard in unexpected ways. It can make you feel vulnerable when you thought you were impervious. It can make you feel weak in places you thought you were strong. The challenges of love are always changing.
But the rewards of loving like this — the smiles, the snuggles, the trusting eyes, those moments when my husband and my daughter and me embrace in one close, safe little circle — are also the strongest I’ve ever experienced. Hard as it is, loving like this is the best thing I’ve ever done.