This time last year a lot of us were blissfuly unaware of what lay ahead of us after January 1st. I was adjusting to life in a new town, new state, excited to host Christmas Eve at our house for the first time. New year, new me…right? Let go of the past, march straight into the future with anticipation and hope.
I must have taken a wrong turn, because I marched straight into a tsunami. The sheer depth of the wave stunned me and as the current pulled back from the shore, I watched parts of me drift away. Lost at sea.
I lost friends.
I lost sleep.
I lost weight.
I lost my partner. I mean, he’s still kicking’, he just ain’t kickin’ it around here anymore.
I lost my serenity.
I lost my sanity.
I lost my socks. All of them.
I lost family.
I lost my voice.
I lost my light.
I lost library books.
I lost my patience.
And most recently, I lost my car keys.
In the early months of 2020 I had a hard time trying to figure out if I could live through my wreckage. The voice on the other end of the phone repeated over and over that I was crazy. A sociopath. An insecure, jealous, vindictive little girl. My brain tricked me into believe these things were true. I could have let it wash right over me, but my reaction was to make those statements my truth. Night after night screaming and crying in my mind. I am the one who made myself suffer. I could have chosen to pause and breathe. Someone once told me that just because your thoughts are there doesn’t mean you have to listen to them.
I didn’t listen. I started to future trip and let fear take over.
What if my kids grow up to hate me?
These people must think I’m super fat.
Only an idiot would fall in love with me.
I’m a disposable piece of trash.
My daughters would be happier without me.
I believed those things for a long time. I felt like a voodoo doll being poked for pain. I just wanted to be happy, but the negativity was smothering me. At some point I realized that there isn’t a single person or thing that can make me happy. My happiness is my issue, no one else’s. My happiness must come from me.
My happiness is right in front of me.
I let fear creep over and over. I feared what life would be like as a single mom. I feared that my ex leave me and I would never have love again, if I ever had it to begin with.
Fear spreads quickly like cancer destroying your insides before you even realize it. Fear lives in the “What if’s?”. What if I hadn’t walked out? What if I asked for help years ago? What if I raised my hand more during class? What if I hadn’t left home? What if I kept pursuing my dreams of music and theater? What if I had waited to have kids? What if I hadn’t snuck away night after night trying to fix or fill my heart with someone or something else?
What if I had surrendered and let go?
What if I held onto the comfort of late nights and cozy blankets? What if I followed my heart, my gut or whatever you want to call it?
Or- instead of running on the hamster wheel of what could have been, or who I thought I should be and decided to embrace the fear. Push through it and never look back. In the words of Robert Frost, “ The only way out is through.”.
Turn fear into motivation. Turn loathing into action and open up to a new way of life without the weight of resentments and broken expectations. Instead of counting losses, count my blessings.
There are so many right in front of me. I don’t know what lays ahead, but I do know that it’s not my job to control it. My job is to be grateful for what I’m given, stop whining and start living. Half of the reason I write here is to remind myself of these things when the ghosts of the past show up and try to confuse me into believing I’m weak and disposable.
Children live what they learn. Watching my daughters grow and forge their own path is both inspiring and terrifying. I am inspired by their childlike wonder. They approach things with an unbiased view. Each new experience is an adventure, whether realize it or not. They learn as they go and experience bumps along the way. Bumps turn into life experiences that shape who they will become. We all make choices in our lives, but what if we based our choices without the fear that we’re used to? What if we opened up our our minds and hearts with fearless exploration? Will we still have mistakes, heartache, addictions, sadness and grief? Yes. But instead of it detouring our path, what if we accepted those things as a part of our journey thats led us to where we are now and where we will go? What if we replaced fear with gratitude?
I’d like to find out.