From a very young age I was a huge worrier. I was hypersensitive to the emotions of people around me and the context of situations that should have reached far above my level of comprehension at such a young age. From the ages of 5-8, I had major separation anxiety from my mom. If she wasn’t home before I went to bed I would lay awake and wait till I heard her car in the driveway. There were many disrupted sleepovers with late night phone calls to my parents begging them to come get me, and like the amazing parents they were – they always did.
She was my protection, my warmth, my teacher of love and self-worth, my best friend, and the first person to tell me that they would accept me – no matter what I chose in this life.
Whether I knew it or not at the time, I believe a lot of this anxiety at a young age stemmed from my mom being sick for almost all of my life. Despite her constant effort to hide otherwise and always filling our lives with happiness and love, I was sensitive to the signs of pain before I was sensitive to identifying a lot of other things. I was unknowingly learning to accept loss before I had learned to develop hope.
However, even in the knowing, my biggest fear in life was losing her.
In October of 2014, at the age of 20 years old, my biggest fear became reality.
In a 2015 guest lesson on a friend’s year long blog, A Year Of Lessons, I wrote about the “after” experience. I wrote about how the morning after and how it almost didn’t feel real. I was still breathing, the sun still rose, the world was still spinning after something I had feared for so long became reality.
The grief stage brought a lot of “I couldn’t imagine” and “I don’t know how you’re doing it” conversations.
And I will tell that in the rawest way I can – you just do.
After I lost my mom I had many internal conversations with myself about how I was going to pick up life. I could either ride the wave or get sucked under. It was always a choice.
I was heartbroken and life was no longer what it used to be, but it became a moment of discovering strength I never knew I had and deciding to explore life much deeper than I had been.
Now every time I think of the word “fear” in respect to my choices in life, I step back and re-evaluate:
Why am I actually scared of this?
Is this about me or someone else’s perception of me?
Is this keeping me from something that is important to me?
The reality is that life is unavoidably a series of extinguishing small, and the occasional large, fires. These fires burn holes of vulnerability into our lives and every day people walk away licked by the flames they may or may not have feared before that moment, with the opportunity for things to heal and change and grow.
I have grown, I am growing. I’m still learning that this vulnerability is okay and doing my best to lead a life of mindfulness and intent, because in the end I have lived through my worst moment – and I still exist…the world kept spinning.
I know we will never be fear or anxiety free, it’s not how our society has raised us. However, it’s important to know that regardless of our shortcomings and fears, we are all stories of strength we never knew we had still being written.