I sometimes dream of being dead — one of the weirdest dreams I have. It’s not like one of those generic drowning or falling ones. In this dream, I’m just laying on my back the whole time. You know, being dead. For the whole dream. Hard to explain what it feels like. It doesn’t hurt, as you might think. It’s just blank. Empty. I’m loosely aware of my senses, but they feel disconnected. I can register and recognize them. But I don’t feel them. In fact, I don’t feel anything. It’s like I’m there, but not there at all. Hence, dead.
I’ve always had an unhealthy amount of exposure to death. For starters, my dad has been a surgeon for a long time. I used to watch videos of him cutting people open when I was three. Say what you want about raising kids the right way, but I don’t think a toddler should see those things. And ironically enough, they didn’t even let me watch war movies — too gory, they said. Meanwhile, my dad was streaming R-rated gore in the living room seven days a week.
Maybe that’s why I grew up so comfortable with the end. A little too comfortable, if you ask me. My earliest memory of being suicidal: Nine. That’s about the age you start to grow up and ask hard questions. Rough time. And the hardship continued into my early teens and young adulthood. So by the time I was 19, I was a wreck.
It’s difficult to explain what it feels like to reject life, the only thing you’ve always had. I thought no one would really bother if I was gone. And for many years, I would’ve been right. After all, I grew up around sociopaths, abusers, and broken people. Not exactly the supportive kind of people who remind you of your worth. So I wasn’t afraid of losing everything because I didn’t think I had anything worth losing.
But this affliction has the strangest antidote: Fear. If you think about it, feeling fearful means that you have something you don’t want to lose. That’s why you’re fearful. You’re anxious because you want to protect something. And when you think about it that way, fear isn’t all bad. At least it means you actually have something worth enough to worry about losing it. For a long time, I didn’t have such a thing.
That’s how you become fearless. It’s not about being free from fear. It’s about recognizing its utility. I sometimes wake up so fearful of the day ahead that my stomach physically hurts. I mean, my lifestyle provides no shortage of scary challenges. Running a business. Building trading bots. Reaching out to clients old and new. Sometimes, I’m out of my depth. Of course I’ll be scared. But at least I have something to be scared for, now. Must be doing something right.