Fear

Though I dearly hope this situation won’t last very long, it’s really discouraging and a bit terrifying to note that, as a man with absolutely no family (no living parents, no siblings, no cousins, aunts or uncles on this continent, separated from my only-child spouse, no children) and no full-time job, with automatic bank withdrawals for rent and other expenses, that I could drop dead in my apartment and not be found for several days. I am not even 50 years old yet, and somehow I feel like a lonely and fearful senior citizen. I no longer use my second door lock when I’m inside, and I’m eager to get my second set of keys back to Brooke just in case.

And that’s only one of the fears that I’m currently struggling with. Of course, worse than the fear of dying is the fear of never getting out of the situation I’m currently in. The fear that I’ve run out of chances, run out of good luck and that my life and my social circle and my work opportunities will continue to shrink around me. I saw this happen to my own father at around the same point in his life, and it terrified me at the time.

By putting this out there publicly, I hope to break this fear’s power over me. Or at least to let you know that I’m not isolating myself on purpose. I crave connection and I’m not afraid to put that out there. Thanks to all of you who have been helping me get through this period of my life. When we meet (all too rarely), I may act like everything is just fine, but it’s the actual act of meeting with you that is giving me back a measure of normalcy, and helping me to know (or at least to hope) that it’s all going to be okay.

3 thoughts on “Fear

  1. As someone who has lived alone for quite some time now, I know what you mean. I too fear sometimes that I am becoming increasingly more invisible, that life has possibly forgotten about me, that one day I may die in this tiny box I call home, leaving my cat to eat my face when he gets hungry. You are not alone in these fears and that in itself proves you are not alone in the world either. More strength will come with every day and every step you take to vanquishing this fear. It will never disappear entirely but you cannot live in fear of life or of what may come. Look ahead to tomorrow, good sir. Even though what lies ahead may not be what you always thought it would be, it is still a world of possibility. Do not fear it; embrace it. You are in good hands even though you may not feel like you are being held at all.

  2. You will get through this. As a fellow self-employed person (it seems like more self un-employed lately) I know the feeling of seeing money continually leaving the bank account and not knowing when the next deposit will happen. It can be very stressful.

    I’ve had years where I’ve been busier than the preverbal “1-armed wallpaper hanger” and some where I feel like I’ve done nothing but talk to the cat. He’s a lousy listener.

    You’ve likely done some of this, but if not – get in touch with your expanded circle of contacts. You must still have many from the wine-industry days. It may not be what you want to do at this point in your life but it’s always easier to find a job when you have a job. Maybe that’s just my experience. If they don’t have something, they may know somebody else that does.

    Create a plan, not the bullshit “where do I want to be in 5 years” but get out every day and explore. You’ll never know what you may find. I found a client while talking to somebody in the Apple Store one day and another while in line at a coffee shop. You have skills. You just need to remember that and build up the self-confidence again.

    It may be time for a change. Web development and creative fields have changed immensley since we got into this circus (I think we’re around the same age and possibly even similar career paths). Spin your skills and sell yourself as an expert in insert skill here to people from your past. Writing about film is likely a hobby at best these days. The web skills needed for even an entry-level dev job, I know, are well beyond my abilities. My own skill set in certain areas has grown and completely eroded in others. I’ve moved from several different, yet oddly industries since the late 80’s. Each step forward, backwards and sideways has always been a learning experience. People that are +/- 7 years of 50 are on the cusp of the generation where most will have multiple careers, whereas our parent’s generation may have had two in their lifetimes. We’re on the bleeding edge of this one. I fear for the next couple of generations.

    There are people out there that can benefit from your experience. Don’t forget that.

  3. James, I’m pretty sure almost everyone suffers from these fears, regardless of whether they live by themselves or with a crowd. As Joseph says, you’re not alone in that. If it seems otherwise, it’s only because people are too scared or reluctant to talk about it.

    Obviously your currently situation is probably making you think about things more than usual, but that will change. I’m assuming you’ll live to 100, so you’re not even halfway there yet… imagine all the changes that have happened already in your life, all the good and the bad, all the surprises and unexpected experiences — there are just as many ahead as behind.

    Give all these changes time to play out and see where the cards fall. Also, I think times have changed since your dad was your age, especially in the Big City… we were just at a trendy restaurant in Leslieville and it seemed like we were some of the youngest people there. If anything, a lot of people dive into a second round of socialization after doing the kids thing.

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