Fear Makes Me

One thing I’ve always been called, repeatedly, is brave. Even people that have admitted they don’t like me as a person has said they admire my courage. It’s a lovely thing to be recognised for and something that I actually do appreciate that I am. What I am not, but am told I am a lot, is fearless.

I’m absolutely terrified. Every moment of my waking life is met with fear and not just because I have anxiety. My fear wakes me up in the middle of the night, it can limit my relationships, it dominated my teen years. I am, in every way, a nervous wreck. Please don’t forget it.

When I spoke out about my childhood abuse, I was terrified. There was nothing fearless about it and although I absolutely never, ever regret doing it I do feel my fear was justified. It changed my life beyond all recognition. In my mind, there is a Sarah before the speaking out and a Sarah after. Neither were happy, both will always be victims of abuse but what happened after; my father’s entire family cut me out… It changed me. I was right to be scared. I was about to experience loss and betrayal on a deep, deep level.

This fear has stuck. It will never fully leave me. As much as I despise admitting it, I will always be a victim of not only abuse but gaslighting and betrayal. Nobody could recover from that and I’m tired of pretending I’m anything near recovered.

Here’s the thing, though. I will always live in fear but this fear makes me.

Fear makes me strive hard to be a better person because the only thing worse than what my family did to me is the prospect of being them. It makes me work through demons and bad habits, no matter how oddly comforting they are.

Fear makes me love. I love hard. I love with reckless abandon. Once I love you, I’m in. I love you. And I always will. Much to the frustration of my friends and family, I see you at your worst and I’m still there because I know what it is to be the one that people can’t handle. The one who is too angry, too intense, too difficult. I know what it is to feel unloved or like “too much” and I never want to put somebody else in that position. The thought terrifies me. You’re a wreck and so am I, let’s be gentle with one another.

Fear makes me work. When you’re a victim of abuse, and a dropout, people have ideas of where you’ll go. I’m repeatedly told that I’ve done so well “considering” and I hate it. I am not a statistic. As much as I accept the victim label, I won’t accept the connotations that the label comes with. I’m broken, I’m bruised and I’m not all that trusting but I am also smart, dedicated, creative and so much more than my experiences seem to suggest.

My demons lurk at the end of my bed, rest in the pit of my stomach, appear at my darkest times to remind me both how much worse it could be and how much worse it has been. They sit beside me at my desk, slowly feeding my Imposter Syndrome.

And they terrify the shit out of me.

So I use Fear and I fight. I fight for every part of my life, every day. Fear is the sting in my lungs, it’s the stutter when I speak, it’s where I look when looking people in the eye is too much, it’s weighted nausea at the back of my throat and it makes me. 

I live through it and with it. I kiss it in the morning before braving the outside world and I smile at it at night when I come home.

I’m not fearless and I don’t want to be.


Thank you for the music – our playlist

So. The Darkness is a big deal to me. I love them. I love them so much that I burst out crying and then squealed when I found out that they were playing Download 2015. I love them so much that when they split, my mum looked after me as if I was going through a breakup. I love them. They are everything I love about 80s rock and roll in a modern band. I haven’t met many other people who love them the way I do but one friend who does is Euan. It’s the first thing we had in common and it’s led to over a decade of us talking about, and sharing music.

It started with a simple enough question;

Have you heard The Jezebel’s new album?

This question was the catalyst for our playlist. It was a joint place where we could share the music we wanted to introduce each other to in an easy way. 746 songs later and it’s so much more. It’s become our place of sharing new music, old music, songs that shaped us, songs that can only ever remind us of 2005 and even the place for games. (5 cover songs that are better than the originals.. and… not already on The Playlist.) We actually realised the other day that we have only 1 Phil Collins song on there. Unreal.

The playlist that was initially supposed to be a place to share new music that we could discuss later has become a digital escape. It’s even become something of a diary; when I look back over the past 18 months and the songs I was adding, I can see growth, I can see aching, I can see hope.

The songs that have been both introduced and reintroduced to me have been tiny, consistent gifts. I’m at an age, and in a place in my life where I feel I have very little time and I’m losing time for my hobbies and interests so to bring music back to me in such a simple yet meaningful way has been a treat. Not to mention the “for every sad song you put on there, I’ll add a hopeful one” rule that was made after my relationship of seven years ended.

Music has always been a deeply personal thing for me – I use it to complement the moods that I’m in, I know which songs to go to in order to help me through certain things. I can pinpoint where I was when I heard some of my favourite songs for the first time. To me, music is intimate as hell. Having this playlist, this corner of my silly streaming account dedicated solely to sharing music has been so incredibly enriching. Sharing it with an old friend, who is as busy and stretched as I am, has made our friendship so much better than it ever was.

We have no rules, no accusations of “guilty pleasures” – for there should be no guilt around the music you enjoy! It’s just everything we love, we want the other to love and to be honest, it’s the purest and best approach to sharing music that I’ve ever known. It’s been a constant at a time when I’ve felt I’m losing all of my constants, my eras.

But isn’t that just music anyway?

Thank you for the music, pal and the odd little escape from reality.