By Ilonka Naziwa
THERE was a time when I had this obsessive fear that I would never amount to anything. It would attack me in the middle of a fitful sleep and slowly drain out the sweet slumber. Within minutes I would be sitting up, pondering the value of my life.
Whereas my achievements were not astronomical, I had something to put under my belt. But during those attacks I feared that even the little I had achieved would somehow disintegrate and dissipate like a fireless smoke cloud. Strangely, when the daylight seeped in, I would get dressed and push on with the rat race â€“ I masked the fear, during the day it never attacked me. But the midnight attacks were ruthless on my confidence.
These attacks lasted for about two years. Till the morning I got up after another sleepless night and as I got ready for another day, as I looked at the woman who stared back at me in the mirror, I noticed she was gone. She had lifeless eyes, a grayish hue and worst of all, I did not recognise her, yet all these years she had been my closest companion. The fear of tomorrow had alienated me from myself. It was on that day that I acknowledged, for the first time, that there was a big problem. I slowly started unravelling the big bad wolf that had put up camp in my sleep and stolen my rest.
Slowly, I traced its origins back to one single decision that I had made earlier on in my life â€“ I had taken a wrong turn then. And as we know when you do not stop to ask for directions, you will keep taking more wrong turns and eventually, you will not recall where you came from or where you were going. I was lost and I was scared of getting farther into the wrong direction. During the day, I could pretend to myself and to everyone else that all was well. But at night, as I lay down to sleep, my natural compass, my spirit, would be so misaligned that it would not let me rest and then fear came in and expounded the magnitude of my loss of direction.
On that morning that a stranger peered back at me in the mirror, I bade her farewell and decided to seek help to get me back on the right road. I was helped, I was guided and I was healed from the consistent nightly attacks on my sleep. It did not happen instantly, but it did happen.
Why am I telling you all this? Because we are living in â€˜strangeâ€™ times; wars, economic dragons called recession and inflation, riots, incurable diseases, horrendous cruelty to mankind (by mankind). It is inevitable â€“ each one of us faces fear daily. Fear is something that crouches at everyoneâ€™s door. Fear is an enemy to life and wherever life dwells, fear will slither in and wait for a moment to take over. We dress our fears in so many forms: booze, lewdness, arrogance, pride, trigger-happy tempers, sheer lack of concern for anything, timidity, dishonesty, cruelty, unkemptness and materialism. Unfortunately, none of the props we use will adequately ever mask the reality of the fear that we allow to take refuge in our hearts and minds. When our internal compass is misaligned, there is no booze, fun, toys or applause that can realign it. I, therefore, advise that we stand up, square up and face the fear, because if we do not, it will kill our spirits, and a body without a spirit is indeed just that; a body.
The strength of the human spirit can overcome countless fears, it can live through a lot; disease, economic downturn, rejection, disappointment, failure, cruelty and war. I strongly believe that no one is doomed to spend their life under the weight of fear, irrespective of their circumstances. I, therefore, choose on a daily basis, to wrestle with fear and to also ask for directions. Yes, sometimes I succumb to the fear, but only temporarily. I personally prefer a good nightâ€™s sleep and smiling at a familiar face in the mirror, every morning.