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Thursday, December 02, 2010

This Woman I've Become - Fears and All


Have you ever been in bed at the crack of dawn, and alone with your thoughts just long enough that it scares the bageezees out of you?  So goes this post - as the woman I've become and may surely be in years to come has done just that.  I'm wishing I had a balance right about now.

I don't get it.  I've gone from what appears to be one extreme to another throughout my life.  I'll try not to make this a long post, just a reflective one, in hopes that I am not the only nutty woman out there.  Oh Please, God, I hope not.  


When I was a small child, I was afraid of everything. The dark. Thunderstorms. Being kidnapped.  Dogs.  Strong wind.  Strangers.  Falling down stairs.  Getting lost.  Drowning in our swimming pool. Riding a bicycle.  And, once I hit school age, I was afraid nobody would like me.  That I wouldn't make any friends.  That I wasn't as pretty as Cathy Carr. That some boy would look up my dress.


When I was a preteen (that's me in the background petting our dog, Fouch), my family moved into a big house on 8 acres in Brookeville, Maryland, and I had to change middle schools in the middle of the school year.  Disastrous.  I did become a little more daring, though.  I had a mini-bike that I would drive as fast as I could in our back yard.  I even found a huge rock aiming nicely out of the ground at just the right angle for me to use as a ramp, fly through the air, and land with a thump only to turn around and take flight again.  But, I was afraid of not making any new friends.  I was afraid nobody would like me.  I was afraid of being teased on the school bus.  I was afraid of large animals, big spiders, flying beetles, and roller coasters.  I was afraid of walking up my long driveway to catch the bus because a section of the driveway went through the woods and I was sure someone or something would jump out and get me.  The boogie man maybe?  I was afraid of my orthodontist.  Most of all, I was afraid my brother, Mike, who was drafted, would end up fighting and dying in Vietnam.  The early 70s were scary years, and not just for me.


When I became a teenager, I was a bit more confident, a heck of a lot prettier than my pre-teen years, and a whole lot more academic too.  Only then, I was afraid that no boy would ever marry me, afraid that I'd fail every test, or I'd die in a car accident.  I was also afraid of getting lost.  Wrong.  


I had plenty of boy friends and 3 proposals before I was 18 and I aced nearly every test. However, I was in 1 car accident that sent ravioli flying across the front seat of my new Camaro so that the paramedics thought I had lost more than just my judgment, and that was because I was "lost" and didn't know where I was going.  

Want to know what happened?  I was driving down Bel Pre Road (for anyone who knows Silver Spring, Maryland), after dark, looking for a turn-off to go to a friend's house.  It was raining.  I couldn't read the street signs for the lights reflecting off the road.  I was leaning forward and holding on to the steering wheel trying to find that dang turn-off when "bam!" I came to a dead stop so suddenly I'm surprised I didn't go through the windshield.  I had hit a parked car on the side of the road with no lights on.  My new car was trashed and I was covered in ravioli.  Now, I was afraid of how I was going to tell my parents that I had just wrecked the new car they bought me for my birthday.


When I became an adult (I say that with a high degree  of apprehension), I stressed that I'd never find the "right" boy and that I'd die an old maid.  So, during my teen years, I'd  drive to Annapolis with my girlfriends and we'd hang out with 4500 midshipmen in hopes of coming home with a good catch.  Oh, I caught a few, but "not" the right one.  I was so desperate to find love (my father had found greener pastures and had temporarily left home), that I found myself alone, in love,  and pregnant at 19.  I was afraid of being a mother.  I was afraid no man would ever love me now that I was a mother.  I was afraid of not being able to support myself or my daughter.  I was afraid I'd never get back into those size 4 jeans, and I was still afraid of roller coasters.  But, now that I reflect on it, I was strong.  I took the bull by the horns and dealt with it, albeit with a great degree of difficulty, and I supported myself and my daughter, lived at home and helped my mother through her own difficult times, and I worked 2 jobs.  College was out of the question, at least at that time.


When I was 21, I married the first guy who asked, because I was afraid no more proposals would follow.  I was afraid of running away from it all and believe me, I thought about that a lot.  I was scared, alone most of the time, and knew that I needed help.  I was afraid of messing up royally, and there were a number of times I know I did, but I tried to face my fears head on and I know now that I did my best, mistakes and all.


I was afraid of being a mother without my mother's help.  I was afraid of being a wife.  I was afraid of screwing up.  I was afraid of being broke.  I was afraid that "this" life I had created for myself was the best it would ever be.  Little things and many big things scared me during those difficult and tumultuous years.


Suffice it to say, I got to a point where I flipped off the world and became a motorcycle riding, business owning, college-goin' young mother.  I had different fears, like the fear of large puddles in the road while riding my motorcycle.  Fear of dropping my bike - which I did often (I became known, among my Harley riding friends, as "Stop & Drop").  Fear of losing my business (a nail salon).  Fear of losing my youngest daughter.  Fear of being alone - again, fear of failing college tests, and still afraid of roller coasters.


I continued with college, sold my motorcycle, kept my helmet, and had new fears.   I was so afraid of being alone, even with my daughters, that I felt like I wanted to curl up under my covers with a flashlight and read a book, especially at night.  I think that was because I was afraid I couldn't raise them alone and I didn't feel comfortable being alone at night with my thoughts.  I hated being alone at night, even with the children in the next room.  I was very insecure.  I've been insecure my entire life.  I wonder why that is? I was afraid of being penniless, homeless, and helpless.  These fears led me to make some bad decisions along the way, but nothing that I couldn't ultimately, recover from.


Well, I finally got a grip, got married to the "right" guy, and had 2 more wonderful children.  Funny thing is, if I had just looked over my shoulder while driving head on into a brick wall of life when I was younger, I would have seen that the right guy had been a friend of mine all along since the age of 11.  Strange how that works.  Now I had no fears.  At least for a time anyway.  For the first time in my life, and for most of the years that have followed (18 to be exact) I have felt secure, happy, comfortable in my own skin, and loved.  Even the night didn't scare me anymore.


My oldest daughter began to repeat a series of mistakes of her own which resulted in a sweet baby boy whom we are raising and loving every day.  Glen is almost 11 y/o.  Kathleen is fearless.  Literally.  She is the mirror opposite of me in every way.  And, you know somethin'?  That scares the hell out of me.


I have new fears now.  I'm afraid that Big Bear will not find a job before we lose everything.  I'm afraid that he'll die.  I'm afraid that I'll die.  I'm afraid of losing one of my children due to illness or an accident or some terrible, horrible, event.  I'm afraid of losing my mother.  I'm afraid of losing one of my brothers.  I'm afraid to drive to places I'm unfamiliar with.  I'm afraid Big Bear will be killed on his motorcycle (we're selling it, truly, any buyers out there?).  I'm afraid my youngest daughter will be involved in a serious accident so I don't encourage her to drive.  I'm afraid of break-ins, heights, falling, extreme pain, being involved in a serious car crash, being involved in a plane crash, and not getting the laundry done.  I'm not afraid of roller coasters anymore.  In fact, I prefer the front seat and the steepest, fastest ride. Maybe that's just it - I've learned to love the roller coaster because that's what life is all about - the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the screaming and throwing up, the sick stomach and the panic.  Yep, I think I like the roller coaster now.

So what prompted me to write this story?  I was lying here in bed.  Alone.  Thinking of my sweet Big Bear and all that he does for our family and all the stress I know he is under.  I'm afraid that each time he is rejected from a job opportunity and his hopes are dashed, that he loses a little bit of his faith in God, humanity, and himself.  I can see it in his eyes.

Me too, but not to the same degree.  I was thinking of how strong he is and what a "wittle, weak, and weary" thing I am.  I was thinking of how proud I am of my children - all of them - and how totally amazed I am by their strength of character and judgment (well, 4/5th of them anyway).  


I was thinking of my mother and how she rarely lets anything get to her.  


I was thinking of Kimberly and how she has faced the most difficult obstacles anyone could face in life with her health, yet she has the strength of Hercules.  If she could see herself through my eyes, I don't think she'd have a fear in the world.  She's a new mother now, and new worries will surface in her journey through life as a wife and mother, but she's a lot stronger than I ever was, and I ache with pride for all that she is, and all that she has taught me in this life.


Sarah is bright, beautiful, strong, intelligent, and has definite goals and plans for her life.  She is on the straight and narrow and is more level-headed and responsible than I ever was at her age and beyond.  She thinks and plans before she leaps.  I used to jump off the cliff and then hope for a parachute.

I want to be Sarah when I grow up.

I've learned that no matter what my fears may be, that life will happen with or without them, so I have to make a choice how I greet them in my life - with panic, or as a life lesson in strength.  I tend to live as a "future" thinker, and maybe that is a big part of my problem, because "fear" of the unknown will get me every time.  A lot of good that does.  I can't control it, so why fret over it.

Maybe this is my daily therapy session - journaling.  It amazes me just how therapeutic this blog can be for me.  Maybe I was just thinking about it all - this "thing" we call life.  Probably because Big Bear isn't home right now and I feel lost without him at home.  Whatever the reason, I've learned one very important lesson along my journey and it is worth sharing - Live for this moment.  Bask in the world around you, the sunrise, the sunset, the green grass, a child's laughter, the little things.  

Be amazed at the tools that we have at our disposal like wireless laptops, GPS, and mobile phones.  Never, ever, stop learning.  Love the people in your life.  Never be afraid to tell someone how you feel or that you love them.  Be grateful.  Pray.  Believe.  Have faith.  Forgive. 

Enjoy your comfortable bed, your favorite blanket and pillow, your favorite pair of fuzzy socks.  Hug your children.  Love them with all your heart.  Why?  Because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is never a promise.  They grow up way too fast.  We grow old way too fast.  Which leads to that thing I call fear again ... and roller coasters.



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