Anxious, and can’t move started when I was just a baby. I recall when my mother told me about when I was a toddler I feared walking. She stated that she called me many times, but I would not move. My mother would get a switch and tap my little legs to make me walk.

I can imagine that I cried to the top of my lungs as the pain forced me to move. I’m certain my mother believed this punishment and control tactic from slavery was the correct form of training. It was what she knew and was raised to do.

It, however, created a deep fear within me; fear to talk, fear to make decisions, fear to stand up for myself, and fear to move into my dreams. It was not until I was in high school that I started to challenge myself to move beyond those paralyzing forces within me. I constantly questioned myself, “What are you afraid of?” I cannot recall what my answer was. I do not know if it was the fear of physical pain such as what I experienced as a toddler that caused this trauma within me. But, I felt insecure in my abilities, or was it the fear of acting on what I knew and felt I was capable of. I say that because along with the fear I subconsciously wanted very much to do things, say things. and make things happen.

It was not until I meet a girl, Faith, at school who quickly became my best friend. I started to feel confident in myself. You see, I was and still am an introvert, but smart. I made all A’s and was on the dean’s list. Faith admired the smart in me. I admired that she was outgoing and the things I inwardly wanted to do she encouraged me to do. I became a majorette, the student council president, on the debate team, a member of the glee club, and made captain on the JROTC drill team.

I know it doesn’t sound like someone who lacks self-confidence. Although I did those things, inwardly I was still not in my comfort zone. Whenever I spoke in front of people I would sweat, shake and tremble as I forced the words out. That changed in college when I took a speech class and found out most people were experiencing the same anxieties.

The professor gave those of us who were trying to dodge the assignment some advice to move through the anxiety, which was, “There’s no one in the audience who is more important than you. There is no one whose opinion is more important than yours. The people in the audience think you are important and want to hear what you have to say.” As odd as that may sound I absorbed that into my spirit. I can’t say I’m a great speaker or anywhere near being one. I can say I have full confidence to say what’s on my mind whether it’s one-on-one or in front of an audience of ten thousand. Not only that but I believe with full conviction that I have the power within me to make dreams happen.

I must admit, it was not until a few years ago that I became fully aware of the degree and seriousness of the inner fears people carry around with them and the devastating consequences of how those fears impact the quality of their lives.

I became friends with an individual, Paul, who shared with me his childhood trauma of growing up with a mother who physically punished him and turned around to comfort him. He grew up not knowing how to be open. This led to some painful consequences. He was molested by a neighbor and was too afraid to tell his mother in fear of being beaten and blamed. His fear also led him to be dishonest and a people pleaser. Another consequence of his fear, he lacked the skills to set boundaries to keep from being hurt and used by others. Additionally, this fear led to drug use to cope and forget about how he felt.

This is a familiar story of many men and women who have been incarcerated. These childhood fears also have led many individuals to drug addictions where they are stuck. Many have no idea that their childhood trauma created fears that have them anxious and can’t move.