Lessons in Fear

I am afraid.

I’ve been afraid for 10 months.

Ten months ago, everything I knew “for certain” changed in an instant and life spun completely out of my control.

Routine, patterns, and consistency are all really important to me. I like understanding the rules and how things work so I can operate comfortably in this world that doesn’t make sense to me. Things that seem intuitive to some people are complete mysteries to me. How do they all seem to know what is “normal”? I have to learn the rules so I know what’s “normal”.

So, of course, my husband leaving unexpectedly and all the chaos that followed just wrecked me. There was no normal, no routine, no pattern, or consistency. Everything went into flux and just stayed that way. At first, I had no idea what to do. What do other people do when they go through a divorce? Turns out, there is no typical way to end a 21-year relationship. With no rules, I tried to follow my heart and do what felt right. But I was afraid. All the time.

I started trying to make decisions based on who I wanted to end up being when the smoke cleared. I enrolled in college for the first time. About a third of the way through my first semester, I realized I wanted to go to a different school. I started looking for one that had a great English and Writing program since that was what I was getting my degree in. I found the University of Iowa. It fit all of my needs. It wasn’t that far from my hometown, cost of living was comparable, and it had the best MFA program for writing in the nation. I applied to transfer in the fall. And I got in.

Now, I’m 16 days away from moving out of the town I’ve lived in for the last 28 years (since I was 13). This is the town where I met and fell in love with my ex-husband and married him at 19 years old. This is the town where both of my children were born. This is where my dad and stepmom still live. This is where my mom died of cancer at the age of 56. This is where she is buried. This is where my kids had their first kisses, first loves, first driving lessons, first swimming lessons, first years of school. This is the town where I had my heart broken more times than I can count. This is the town where I got divorced. I’ve never lived anywhere but Missouri and now I’m 16 days away from leaving.

Of course, I’m afraid.

This past weekend has been one where I am simply full of fear, overthinking scenarios, and worrying about what the future will look like. But I got royally sick of myself this morning. I made myself get up and out of the house. I drove to one of my favorite spots and just talked to myself. I realized how irrational my fears have been. I remembered things from my childhood that soothed me. And I realized that my kids would be ok. I would be ok.

I pulled out my journal and wrote, “All fear does is hold you back. You can’t banish your way out of fear or logic your way out. All you can do is face it and move forward. Standing still may as well be going backwards.”

There is still a part of me that is afraid but I have to be done with fear, done letting it hold me back. I have to be done standing still. I have to keep moving forward to stay alive. No more overthinking or trying to figure out the rules. There are no rules for this. This is uncharted territory for me. Someone else’s plan or way of going about this isn’t going to help me. I have to do what feels right to me. No more standing still, only moving forward.

People like to say, “this too shall pass.” That really just means that everything is temporary, everything has a season. This isn’t the rest of my life or my kids’ lives. It’s just a blip. This next part of my life isn’t even a chapter, it’s a few pages in the hero’s journey. It’s the traveling montage. It’s the opening of the story (moving to a new town because mom or dad is gone and we have to start over). The real adventure is yet to come.

Fear is going to lurk. It’s going to try to stop me, to get me to stand still. But standing still may as well be going backward. I have to face fear and push forward. Forward is the only way to stay alive.

I may have doubts and anxiety but I won’t let fear have me. I started off this post by saying, “I am afraid.” I’m ending it, saying, “I am strong enough to face the fear. I am strong enough to keep going.”


One thought on “Lessons in Fear

  1. Josh says:

    I was just thinking about you today. Instagram has mind reading powers I guess because you popped into my feed for the first time, like ever.
    Anyway, you are incredible. And that’s all


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