If there are 100 forms of irrational fear, then I've got 100 bars in my prison cell. I can't name all the fears, but I can name many of the character defects that grow out of these fears: Perfectionism, people pleasing, approval seeking, blaming and shaming, comparing and criticizing, domination and dependence, making demands, playing God, acting childish, grandiosity, striving for self-importance and recognition, winning at all costs. Everyone of these character defects is rooted in self-centered fear. As long as I am "emotionally sensitive" I can never be free because my peace of mind depends on how others treat me.
There was a book written in the '70s entitled, "I've been down so long it feels like up to me." I had been living in my self-constructed prison of fear for so long it felt normal, like these fears were a part of me. I felt it perfectly normal to go into a rage if someone pressed one of my fear buttons. How else was the person to know not to? I had decorated my prison with all manner of people who I thought I could trust not to push my fear buttons, but sooner or later every one of them betrayed me and many pushed away with wild abandon. Sheesh. It's no wonder I drank like I did.
By the end of my drinking, I had chased all the button pushers (and everyone else) out of my life. I was totally alone: no family, no girlfriends, no boss, no real friends. Only the lower companions I met at the bar everyday at 4:00 PM where we made our dinner from the free happy hour snacks. I remember sitting alone in my darkened, messy apartment thinking what a great way this was to live -- no one around to hassle me about my drinking or anything else for that matter. Today this thought is perhaps the saddest I can recall from my last days.
In AA I have learned that other people are placed in my life to push my fear buttons! It’s their job to poke me in those unhealed places. It's the pathway to emotional sobriety and ultimate freedom. I continue to grow along spiritual lines if I am willing to look at the fear when it arises, not run away from it by blaming the button
pusher. Today I realize it is my wife's spiritual job to push my buttons. I only wish she wasn't such an expert at it.