Anger, Power and the Fear of Success

my new home in Trinidad, CA



First and foremost, this isn’t a self-pity party. This is a humble attempt at a sort of writing therapy. The older I get, the more worried I become at how I’m going to end my days e.g. lonely, desperate, broken or happy, healthy and with a sense of fulfillment? As I was taking stock of my life’s puzzle the other day, the phrase “fear of success” popped into my mind. I did a little reading on the subject years ago but didn’t follow through or pursue it seriously. And perhaps because I just turned 60, I am now ready to do something about my life situation? I know that I can’t keep on doing the kind of work that I do and to be honest, nor do I wish to. I want the last chapter of my life to be devoted to pursuing my creative projects.


I have been a caregiver of one sort or another for a good portion of my life. And my compassion for others has been the hallmark of my life. But it’s time that I focus that compassion inward and attempt to heal myself. I was speaking to Jeri, my ex-wife on the phone last week and I told her that it’s ridiculous for me to be working for minimum wage at my age and with all my qualifications. I feel that I’ve been my own worst enemy or have been holding myself back for all these years.


In a cursory scanning of a few articles on the “fear of success,” I noted a few things that jumped out at me. Fear of success is closely linked with the fear of failure and anger is a common factor that prevents many people from pursuing their dreams. That word “anger” practically jumped off the page and slapped me across the face. I have been afraid of my anger for most of my life and it has been like a monster that I keep caged inside of me. I had several step-dads growing up but there was only one that I loved and his name was Don Piercey. Don told me once when I was somewhere in my twenties that when I was a little boy, I’d often play by myself and when other kids would bug me, I’d move away but if they kept bugging me, I’d lash out viciously and practically try to gouge their eyes out.


This anger was always a mystery to me until an aunt of mine told me that when I was just a baby, my step-dad, whose last name I have, would beat me severely and that I’d hide behind furniture whenever he or any other man would enter the room. I have always been a loner and I retreated into the world of books at a very early age. Books became my best friends and were always there to take me away to make-believe worlds of fantasy and adventure. Books never hurt me and were a comfort when my reality was too painful.


Then when I was first starting junior college, I heard that as a student, you could visit the college therapist for one free visit. I was having a lot of self-doubts because friends had been telling me for quite some time that I was “too sensitive.” The therapist basically said B.S. that’s like saying you’re hair is too brown. You’re either sensitive or you’re not. She also said that I was constantly giving my power away. I didn’t know what she meant by this but I’ve been pondering it ever since. I think I know now? I often make self-deprecating or self-effacing remarks probably in an attempt to put myself down before anyone else can so as to not be hurt by others.


I recently moved to a beautiful little town called Trinidad and I commented to a young co-worker that I didn’t feel worthy to be living in such a beautiful community by the sea. And this fits the pattern of my life e.g. I have always felt unworthy whenever fortune has smiled upon me. I feel like a fugitive sometimes and like people will find me out and I’ll be publicly humiliated because I don’t belong, am not worthy, etc. I have felt like an outsider for most of my life and the pieces are slowly coming together.


In the first article that I read on the fear of success, the author stated “There are payoffs for holding onto less-than-successful realities and failing to change…for example; what emotions am I not willing to release? For many it is anger.” This is so true of me. I recall with shame, my wedding night when my wife first saw the beast within me. In brief, two uninvited guests tried to molest my sister, had been causing all sorts of trouble, went after my sister’s ex-boyfriend with a knife, etc. and I hurt them bad and it was vicious and ugly and the cops came and we just barely got away and when we left for Europe on our honeymoon the next day, I didn’t know if I had killed them or not.


So yes, my anger scares me but it’s long past time that I wrestled with it because it has been holding me back for far too long. I recently quit a job in Oregon that was paying a fairly decent wage, because again, I was afraid of my anger and thought it better to quit than to tell my supervisor what I thought of her. She had been treating me like her personal whipping-boy for over two years and I dreaded the thought of working another day with her and here I am working for minimum wage for a flaky agency.


In conclusion, this article has given me hope because the author claims that if we work on ourselves and can forgive ourselves, we can move on and find success. Part of me has been afraid to seriously pursue my dreams because if I failed after trying to realize a dream it would be just too crushing a defeat. So I prefer to just talk and write about my dreams but there I go again with the self-deprecating remarks/criticism of myself. I have lived several of my dreams and I have channeled a lot of my anger into the study of politics because I want to protect the poor, the working class, the down and out against the corporate bullies who are oppressing all of us. I know it sounds very grandiose but one must dream boldly if one is to summon up the energy to say something worthy. And I have written over 2,000 pages on my magnum opus and one of my greatest dreams is to see it published and to make a difference for the positive in this oftentimes-cruel world!

P.S.  I learned severa years ago that my family’s ancestry dates back to 12th century Ireland and that my ancestor was a soldier in Richard the Lionhearted’s army and intervened when an assassin attempted to kill Richard the Lionhearted by chopping the assassin’s head off. Perhaps protecting others is in my blood?




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