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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Every Badass Needs a Crossbow

I’m so tired of being afraid.  Or rather, letting my fear control my brain the way it has been.

Indulge me for a moment so I can review.  Most of my childhood and early adulthood was not ruled by fear at all.  I wasn’t a particularly fearful child, if I wanted to do something, for the most part, I did it.  When I felt fear I always thought, “Will I regret not doing this?” and made a decision based on that.  Of course, I didn’t know enough to be afraid of many things I probably should have been afraid of, but that’s part of the beauty of being young.  I rode horses- did pretty dangerous things on horses, mind you- with my best friend.  I played rugby against women twice my size.  I travelled alone, I tried new things, I went cliff diving, I went white water rafting, and I moved to new places.  I made choices that made me happy.

In 2011, when I moved to Wales, of course I was scared.  Again however, it didn’t rule my thoughts or my decisions.  When I returned from Wales however, the way my brain had been working seemed to change.  If you’ve ever seen that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when her friends bring her back from heaven after she dies, that’s how I felt.  I had changed, and everyone and everything seemed to be the same.  It wasn’t a bad thing that they were the same, it was just that I didn’t know how everything fit into my life anymore.  I didn’t know what I wanted and I felt like I lost who I was and I was terrified.  I was lost.  This feeling has continued and is still continuing today.

When Andy and I started seeing each other at the very end of 2013, I began a life-long process of “dealing with my shit”.  There was no more analyzing from a safe distance why I picked the relationships I picked. I wasn’t going to make excuses for myself any longer or pretend that my fear of intimacy and commitment were out of my control.  I began to do the scariest thing I have ever done.  I’ve EVER done.  Ever.

I let someone in to see everything about me.  When you do this, life offers you a marvelous chance to grow… and it is fucking hard.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I had so many fears triggered in such intensity that I almost couldn’t manage anything but going to work and dealing with my fear.  In the past, that would have in the past sent me running for life, but instead I let them bubble up.  These things are the fears that I’d never really looked at before.  The fear of being truly seen, the fear of abandonment, of not being good enough, fear of verbal abuse, fear of manipulation, fear of pain and hurt, fear of death, shame, etc.  These things came up time after time, and they still do.  All of the fears that I never allowed myself to recognize were finally able to scream at me, and I was forced to listen because I wasn’t willing to walk away from this amazing man.  I also knew very deep down that I deserved to get to the other side, I deserved love and intimacy even if I didn’t see a way through the fear and the pain.  I sat through hours of ugly crying on my bed, clinging to my dog, and saying over and over “I’m so scared.”  I looked at it and I sat with it.  I still look at it and I still sit with it.

But lately something has changed.  The fear has sort of taken over a bit.  I’ve let it bubble up for the past two years because it needed to come out, I needed to look at these things so that I could be in a healthy relationship with someone.  But now, it seems like it’s been running rampant in my brain for awhile.  

I’m so not okay with that.

Today, as I was driving in my car, the thought popped up, “I’m really fucking tired of being scared.  I’m DONE.”  I felt my inner Lara Croft taking over again.  She is a badass and she is a part of me that I need right now.

I’m DONE letting fear tell me that I can’t start my own business.  I’m DONE letting fear tell me that Andy’s going to leave me.  I’m DONE thinking that I’m not good enough.  If I want to do something, I will figure out how to do it.  I want to write and bounce business ideas off my friends.  If I don’t know something that I need to know, I will learn, I will take classes, I will ask questions.  I want to kickbox again, so that I can physically feel like I’m strong and brave on the outside again.

And I want a goddamn crossbow.  

When I was young and I was afraid, I just didn’t look at it and instead protected myself from dealing with fear by avoiding intimacy and love.  Recently, I’ve looked at all that fear I was ignoring and built a solid foundation with Andy, but I have also been letting the fear rule me.  Those approaches, although they served me well at the time, are not serving me anymore.  So, I’m doing what I always do:  adapt.  I’m going to look at my fear and I’m going to hear it out for a moment because fear is just trying to protect me.  I’m righting this down to remind myself of this feeling, this mindset.  Not everything fear says is true, but maybe the fear has a point.  I can hear it out in order to help minimize risk, but I’m NOT letting it be the sole decision-maker.  It will get a voice, but it won’t be the voice. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going crossbow shopping.  Every badass needs a crossbow.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

There Be Dragons

You know what's really hard about both getting what you want or not getting what you want?  The results are basically the same.  There is disappointment if you thought that’s what would make you happy. 

If you did get what you want, it makes you no happier than you were before getting it.  If you didn’t, you’re heartbroken.

Oh but then, dear friends, you get to go through the grueling process of figuring out what to do with that, now that you know this life truth.  The process happens slowly for some and quickly for others, and others still will never know this process even exists.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get disappointed and heartbroken enough in your life to begin the process of discovering real joy.  

First, you feel the quakes of heartbreak and the emotional vertigo of disappointment.  You begin to analyze the moments of the past that lead you here, and wonder how on earth you’re going to navigate your way back to solid ground because between where you are now and where you want to be, there be dragons.

Slowly, you realize that your ruby slippers took you to happiness time after time, but you were so busy thinking about how you don't yet have what you thought you wanted, that you didn't notice all of the beautiful, perfect, tiny moments of laughter and love.  

When your heart was broken, you didn’t acknowledge that the hole in your heart made room for the friendships that pour in.  Those moments when your dear friend was holding your hand, catching your tears, and calling you beautiful, something incredible and gentle was happening that couldn't happen if you instead chose to cry alone.  You let your friend see you, really see you, and she didn’t recoil, she didn’t run, she didn’t let that hole in your heart scare her away.  

At the time, you weren’t looking at the incredible beauty in those moments.  You were trudging down the path of a mediocre present so focused on an imagined future glory and fulfillment that you walked right past, without noticing, the generosity of the human heart, the bravery of friendship, the ways in which love can keep expanding infinitely.

But you can do that now.  You can recognize that joy happens in these terrible and terrifying moments.  You can see that, whilst going after goals is important, the happiness you think is at the end of the road is actually with you step after step, if you’re willing to open yourself up and look.  You can be both brave and gentle in friendship, knowing that the other is uncovering her many layers along with you.  You share your shame and she can hold it gently between her fingers like a dandelion and together you can let the seeds of shame float away in the breeze.  You can also witness the strength and resilience that you inspire as you in return help set her shame free.  

It's true, heartbreak and disappointment bring pain, but they also can bring incredible joy.  If you chose this path to solid ground you will traverse unfamiliar and dragon-ridden lands to experience this kind of joy, but that’s where the really good wine is anyway.

Snail Steps

Snail Steps