If you want to talk about fearlessness, I cordially invite you to a sneak peek into my life a few months ago. Four beautiful children, countless vacations, two homes and several pets later, and I was living out my worst nightmare. Was I comfortable? As far as modern comforts are concerned, yes. Was I happy and fulfilled? No, and I was getting worse by the minute. My husband and I were separating after almost 20 years. And I was petrified.
In fact, I still get afraid, but I am also "becoming fearless," operative word, becoming. I've come to view it not so much as leaving a bad situation as I do more moving toward a better one. Once I made the decision to better myself by being true to myself and start living as authentically as possible, it created a catharsis and opened up doors for change. I had already begun to address all the "smaller" things that I identified as steps toward bettering myself; turning 40 had already done that nicely for me. Nutrition and exercise were at the top of the list. So was carving out time for myself and my hobbies, spending quality time with good friends, saying "no" when I had to. All the while, I knew my marriage was on the rocks but continued on pretending it wasn't so. That's how we denial types tend to operate. After all, we'd tried therapy, hours and hours of it; we'd seen countless marriage counselors and attended umpteen workshops. But there is something to be said when you live in a perpetual state of denial -- the proverbial "elephant in the room" scenario. Not only did I feel like the walking dead, but the problems only got worse and worse. By the time I'd begun to timidly address the issues, the problems had mounted to Mt. Vesuvius proportions. An eruption was only a matter of time, and my fear was measurable. With each passing day, I feel empowered and energized, but this catharsis wasn't always so pretty.
It used to be that every morning, rather than pull the blankets tight over me, desperately yearning to fall back asleep and slip right back into denial, I strived to find a reason -- something, any excuse -- to get up. Some days it was as trivial as looking forward to my cup of coffee -- French roast with a little hazelnut creamer, please. Other times, it was a bit more significant, my 6-year-old son's "Counting to 100" school presentation, for example. Most days, it was and still is convincing myself that, yes, "this too shall pass." I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last human on earth to pass through troubled times. I tell this to myself on a daily basis.
Because the pain and the fear were so palpable, it seemed all I could do to manage the simple daily things. Brushing my teeth. Eating breakfast. Putting on a jacket. It's like I'd elevated these once mundane and ordinary things to idol-like status. I haven't yet high-fived anyone for remembering to shower, or tweeted or posted on Facebook about it, but who knows. As crazy as it sounds, taking these baby steps at that time in my life created a solid base for me to stand on. Every day I feel stronger and more assured of my decision. And slowly, but surely, I am becoming fearless. I'm not letting the fear of being alone, of financial uncertainty, of doubts and insecurities -- and there are countless others to be sure -- stop me. It's a frightening prospect, and while I may pause here and there I am, paradoxically, moving ahead by accepting the Now. They call this "being present." I can't afford to expend precious energy about a future that doesn't even exist at this point. Replacing old belief systems and old ways of being, while growing into happiness and fulfillment, takes being present courageously, sometimes requiring more courage than I think humanly possible. But I've fearlessly accepted and committed to change and resolution, however unconventional it may seem. The other choice was to continue, mentally and emotionally exhausted, in an otherwise stale, predictable and toxic situation. Hardly a choice at all, and even more shocking considering this was how I was living.
I fully expect that in a few years from now, maybe even next year, I will be taking on bigger challenges on fearlessness -- joining the Peace Corps (something I've always wanted to do), starting my own business... even reconciling my marriage isn't off the table. But for right now, my plate is full with managing the simple daily things in my life and taking care of me, so I can take care of those who need me, one day at a time. In fact, last week I decided to wear my favorite designer jacket, straight from Paris. I looked great, but more importantly I felt like the strong, confident, fearless woman I know I am becoming.
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