I crouch, my back to the opposite wall, eyes locked on the closet door. I know what he is now, and that he’s in there. I know I need to get up. I need to walk across the room, innumerable steps to that door. I need to open it, knowing what I’ll find. I need to face him.

But I can’t yet.

All I can do is stare at the door. I know the monster on the other side. I know he is just waiting for me. He doesn’t need to seek me out. I will come to him. Unwittingly or deliberately, I will come. Many times. He has only to wait.

I always thought I knew my greatest fear. Failure. Easy enough. But that was too simple. Failure was just failure to me. I could handle it. Sure, I didn’t like it (who does??), but I wasn’t paralyzed by it. It didn’t stop me from doing things I knew I had to, or make me do things I know I shouldn’t. It didn’t rule me, or carry much weight in my life. But now I know of something that does… to all of those things.

As you may remember, I’ve been rereading the Lord of the Rings. And while this is a great Fantasy book, it is first and foremost a Self-Help book (just kidding… but it is chock full of bits of wisdom and nail-on-the-head truths, and as I’m about to illustrate, can teach you great things about yourself). I took a break before the Return of the King to listen to the 100 Cupboards series and for NaNoWriMo (I didn’t have time to listen to anything, then!), and came back to it this last week.

So here I am, innocently listening to my book. And then Eowyn steps into the picture again (and it’s another whole topic, but as a side note, I’ve always had a strong affiliation/connection with her that those I’ve spoken with do not seem to share, at least in the way that I do. I can SOO relate to her so much of the time… but anyway). In one short statement, she plants a seed in my mind that goes deep, waiting to come out.

A few days later, I’m having a “dark day”. Nothing is going right, everything appears to be falling apart, and my world feels like it’s closing in ( you know those sorts of days). Alone in my room, I can feel the pressure inside me, pressed from the outside, squeezing me in. I found myself staring wildly at the walls, almost seeing them closing in and sealing me inside. My greatest fear, the monster in my closet, was unleashed.

A cage.

I’m like a lark soaring free in the sky but terrified of having its wings clipped, or a lion hunting its prey but afraid of being captured and locked behind bars.

Alone in my room, I tatter my wings against the invisible bars of the cage closing around me, trying to escape before I’m trapped forever. No, no, no! I scream silently, lost in a panic, paralyzed by fear. A cage I cannot see or identify is closing around me, struggling to hold me in. And I can do nothing. How can you fight something you can’t see and don’t even know what it is? I don’t know what cage it was I feared in those terror-filled moments that dragged agonizingly by, each second another eternity in the power of a fear I couldn’t handle or control. Perhaps it was nothing, only an illusion, an idea conjured to threaten me with my own weakness. I don’t know. But as the sheer unbridled fear ebbed and I scrabbled to pull myself together and regain control of myself, the quote drifted dimly back into my consciousness.

“A cage… To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”

It was what she had said her great fear was, and I suddenly wondered how true it might be of me. While she had meant it strictly speaking of adventure and warfare, why not a more broad application? Why not mental cages? Or emotional? Why not self-imposed cages, or as in this circumstance, the imaginary ones?

At first I denied it. No, that’s not GREAT enough of a fear. You know, cages… who’s afraid of a cage? Well, but greatEST fear. How do you know for sure what that is? Surely this… can’t be it. Or… is it… really?

I forced myself to think about it. Not making any decisions right away, but careful thought for several days. And things began to make scary sense in my own behavior and decisions. I found myself thinking things like, and because I’m afraid of a cage, that makes PERFECT sense! “Because”… right. And I wasn’t going to jump to a too hasty conclusion. But it did seem to become more and more self-apparent as I looked at it, as though it had been there plain as day the whole time, but I’d just been too blind to see it, and only now had I opened my eyes enough to see it myself. I start to wonder how many people in my life already know this about me, and if I’m the last one to the party. But no matter what, I know it is at least one of the greatest fears in my life, the only one I’ve recognized as effecting controlling any of my choices or thought patterns. I think like an animal, afraid of the cage.

I crouch, my eyes locked on the closet door. I know the monster behind the door now – the fear of a cage. I know he waits to torment me. I know I need to face him before I can find any freedom from him. But right now, I can’t move. I can’t walk to the door. I can’t open it and face him. Not yet. But I will.

Because I know him now. And when I know what to face, I have a chance. When I know where to stand, I can fight a battle. But I’ll need a sword and the strength to wield it. I haven’t found one yet, but until I do, I will guard this door. I won’t let him come out of my closet without me knowing. I’m declaring war on him, and maybe I’ll win one day. But whether I ever truly defeat him or not, I’ll never stop fighting. Fear is not something I will let rule me or my life. And now I know what enemy I face.

The monster in my closet is the fear of a cage.

But he is no longer a secret, unknown terror hiding in the darkness to come out at night and stand at the foot of my bed, paralyzing me with his diabolic rule. Now he is known, the lines have been drawn up, the revolt is underway, and war shall commence.

Thank you for hearing and supporting me, friends. It’s hard for me to come out and say all this, but I needed to. And knowing that you care enough to read through this post is just incredible! Thank you so much for being there for me!!

~ Kat