Saturday, October 6, 2012


When I was a little girl, I was terribly scared of the dark!  I wouldn't even walk to the bathroom by myself in the dark.  Luckily, my little sister, Sarah, was afraid of NOTHING and she would walk with me and stand outside the door until I came out.  I shared a bedroom with my 2 younger sisters until my older brother and sister moved out.  Then, I got my own room.  I loved it during the day, and I hated it at night.  I would go sleep with my sister sometimes, but on the nights I had to stay alone in my room...I was always afraid until I went to sleep.  I would pull the covers up high on my neck and always had my bed against a wall so I could put my back to the wall and feel safe.  If it got too bad, I'd sing to myself...but on the nights that the fear was unbearable, I would leave my room to go find my parents or my sister.  I still remember the dilemma.  I wanted to get out of there but I was afraid to put my feet on the floor.  I would lie there gripped with fear trying to summon the courage to move.  The boogeyman never got me, but every time I was afraid "he" would.

I'm a little embarrassed to say that fear has been a big part of my life in different ways.  I did and did not do many things because of it.  As a little girl I was afraid of being hurt.  As a teenager I was afraid of not being good enough.  As a young woman, I feared not being smart enough to get a degree and a job, so I defeated myself in college by getting bad grades and eventually dropping out as soon as I got married.  Sometimes the fear served me well.  It kept me from doing things that were bad because I was afraid of disappointing my parents.  But most of the time, it also kept me from the love and happiness and peace that I always craved.  It's like I have the demons of the past following me...taunting me...holding me back...telling me that I can't or that I need help.  I learned to coexist with "them" well.  I dedicated myself to being the best Mom I could be.  I shopped and went out with friends.  I laughed when I wanted to cry.  I made sure all my time was filled and that I was never alone with myself for too long.  I didn't want the same fears I had as a little girl and bad memories to come back.  I wasn't sure I was strong enough to face them.  That worked for a long time...and then things changed.
When I gained and lost 70 lbs. after my third child, my body wasn't the only thing to change.  My confidence grew.  I learned to try new things and not let it devastate me if I failed the first time I tried.  I made great improvements, but I kept my life fairly stress free.  I spent money, but I didn't worry about how to pay the bills.  When I needed a new car, I did the fun part.  I picked out what I wanted and then left it to my husband to get it and figure out how to pay for it.  I just assumed it would ALWAYS be this way...that I would always have someone there in bed with me at night to keep me safe and to handle the money and day to day stresses that I thought were too much for me.  That was a mistake. 

I was lying in bed Wednesday night alone gripped with fear just like when I was a little girl.  I felt like I couldn't move.  I wanted to jump up and run away, but I couldn't.  The only difference is I wasn't afraid of the boogeyman...I was afraid of the future...of being alone...of supporting myself...of all the tasks that I have avoided out of fear all these years.  After 21 years of marriage, I'm back to having my own room.  Soon there will be no one to pay the bills but me.  I won't be able to spend and shop without thinking.  I will have to pay attention and stick to a tight budget.  For a moment, I felt stuck...frozen...hopeless.  I tried talking to a friend but I was too closed off mentally to hear any other point of view and so at 3 AM, I stared at the ceiling wondering what would happen to me.  I don't know why, but I got up and decided to make a budget and find a way to reduce some costs.  I started searching for that cost half as much as the Mercedes I needed to get rid of.  I made my choice and set out to do something...ON MY OWN the next day.  

I went to the Acura dealership to look at a new/used car they were selling for a good price.  It had all the stuff I like...heated seats, navigation, push start etc and it fit into my budget.  I walked in only to find out the car was already sold.  The internet mgr saw all my printouts for different dealerships and when I was questioned, I said, "Well, I'm not going to stop until I find a good car that has what I want and I'll go all over the DFW Metroplex if I have to."  He smiled and walked away.  When he came back he started trying to sell me great cars that were new and about 3-4 thousand above the budget I set.  He told me it wouldn't make a big difference.  I did not agree.  I held my ground...nicely of course.  Before I knew it, they were offering me a brand new car with everything I wanted at invoice.  I told them I had to think about it.  I walked away wondering, "Can I do this?  Can I buy a car by myself?  Am I smart enough to not get taken advantage of?"  The next morning I called the sales person from the previous day and made an offer.  I accepted the price but wanted more for my trade in and a certain interest rate.  He called me back and we had a deal!  I went to the dealership feeling pessimistic.  I was sure something would go wrong, but I was not going to bend.  It came time to finance.  The rate was 1% higher than I wanted.  A year ago, I would've caved.  I didn't.  I showed them that this rate was available other places and told him I refused to go any higher.  I was prepared to leave.  To my surprise, we had a deal...a deal that was in my favor...a deal that I got...all on my own.  It felt great driving my first new car purchased on my own at 42 yrs old off that car lot.
I drove to my parent's house to show everyone my car and after my brother looked under the hood and my mom checked out the inside, I pulled away to go home.  I was surprised by how I felt.  I had to contain the tears.  I was overwhelmed with excitement, pride, and hopefulness.  I realized that everyone has fears, but if you let those fears paralyze will never get anywhere!  It felt great to take that fear that held me captive two nights before and use it to make necessary changes.  It doesn't matter whether you are facing a job change, a divorce, or the challenge of losing weight and trying to get stronger.  You cannot let fear hold you back.  You cannot let it hold you where you are.  When you are scared, get up and don't worry about what might happen or who might get you.  Take action.  Do the things you need to do and start to take back control over your life.  Strength is not about never failing or never being afraid.  It's not about always being able to lift the most weight or run the fastest.  It's about acting in spite of the obstacles in your way.  It's taking the first step into the dark, where you learn that there's no boogeyman.  It's about trying again and again until you stop failing.  It's about continuing to lift a little more and go a little faster.  There is nothing too scary to face, because you have the strength within you to overcome your fears.  Remember that the next time you are afraid.