How to Conquer a Fear of Commitment (and really start living)

woman on beach

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.” ~ Judy Blume

I was chatting with a friend a few days ago and he made a comment about my fear of commitment.  He was joking (I think), but it started my wheels turning.

Maybe I do have a fear of commitment.  But it’s not the usual one.  You know … the one where you feel as though you’ll be suffocated by the person to whom you’ve made a commitment.  It’s not because I feel as though my own freedom will be thwarted.

It’s because I’m afraid that people will leave.

It makes complete sense.  My Dad died unexpectedly when I was pregnant with my first child.  I was 20 years old, and single motherhood was looming.  He wasn’t supposed to leave.  But he did.  In my mind, his commitment to me wasn’t over.  But then it was.  And it came out of the blue.  I was not ready for him to be gone.  I still needed his love, his understanding, his protection.  I had to come to grips with his absence at a time when I needed him the most.  There was nothing I could do to change the circumstance.

From then on, whenever I’ve made a commitment to anyone and I’ve sensed that something wasn’t right, I’ve run.  I’ve tried to control the circumstance.  Rather than face someone leaving me again, I leave first.  I think I’m heading off pain, controlling the situation, but really … I’m just causing more pain and bringing about a situation where leaving is the only option.

I’ve realized that this is no way to truly live and enjoy the beauty relationships can bring.  So I’ve given some thought as to how I can face this fear of commitment.  Here’s what I’ve found:

Recognize that everything is fleeting.

Life is about constant change, even if we don’t always see it.  Everything is in motion.  Things move toward us and things move away from us. Including relationships.  And that’s okay.  That’s how it’s supposed to work.  It has nothing to do with my worth, or my value, or really even someone wanting to leave me.  It just happens sometimes.  It does not, cannot, take away from the good and beauty that the relationship held.  That will remain forever.

Stay in the moment.  

Damn it this one comes up a lot.  But it’s truly important.  The mind cannot think of two things at once.  So if I keep my focus on what I’m doing RIGHT NOW, how things are going RIGHT NOW, I have less of a chance that the fear of someone leaving will creep in and begin to wreak havoc as it has done in the past.

Face that mothereffing fear head on and stay committed.

This may very well prove to be the hardest thing to do.  But when you face a fear head-on, it dissipates.  So whatever it is I’m committed to, from now on I’m all in.

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