What Does Not Destroy Us Makes Us Stronger. Or Weaker. Or More Fearful

Nietzsche said, “What does not destroy me makes me stronger.” I’m not sure if that is strictly true. Sometimes that which doesn’t destroy us makes us makes us weaker because it makes us fearful of living, fearful of more trauma, fearful of fear itself.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

In life, we often have to do the thing we think we cannot do. Too many times during the past eighteen months I’ve felt that I can’t survive the pain of losing my life mate (we were together for 34 years). Panic kept washing over me, as if I’d been set down in the middle of an alien world with no idea how to deal with all the horror being thrown at me. I feared every new step, every change. I’d been especially fearful of growing old alone. Sometimes I still am. I’ve seen what dying can do. It’s a terrible way to end one’s life, and it seems even more terrible when one has to face it alone. Of course, there’s a chance that it will be decades before I have to face the grim reaper, and who knows what will happen until then?!

Well, I do know one thing that will happen: this discussion about life, writing, and the writing life!

So, what do you fear? How do you deal with your fear?

If you are a writer, how does that fear work its way into your stories? What do your characters fear? How do they deal with the fear? Is the fear a plot driver, something that drives the story forward or is it more of a subplot, a way of developing your character? Is the fear justified? Is the fear realized? (I mean, does the thing the character fear happen, and if not, why not?) How does the character deal with the fear? How does the fear change the character? How does facing his/her fear change the character?