Monday, September 16, 2013



Everything is so damn scary for me these days. Just speaking up and saying what I think feels like too much of a risk. It's as though my confidence died with Dave.

I know I'm courageous only because I can see now that I acted many times since Dave died despite nearly crippling fear. But I don't feel courageous. I feel so scared that I want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world.

It's the acting even when you're scared out of your gourd that means you're courageous. This is something that took a long time to sink in for me. It's still sinking in. In fact, it doesn't register until someone else tells me. It's as though my own brain can't do the math (Fear + Acting anyway = Courageous) unless I'm reminded by an outside source. And even then my brain goes right back to telling me all about my fear.

My therapist said that I'm holding the fear right up in front of my face so I can't see around me. Good stuff might be out there, but I don't see it because all I can see is the fear. I try to picture myself setting the fear down in my lap long enough to look around. It is NOT EASY.

In an attempt to help this sink in for me and really examine how I've been gutsy and brave lately, I'm going to start thinking and talking about my achievements more. I downplay. Always downplaying. And then I forget those accomplishments as my brain goes straight for the fears and the doubts instead.

I'll start here, knowing that you lovely people won't think of it as bragging but as a way to survive and triumph over negative thinking and paralyzing fear. Also, I'd love to hear about your accomplishments in the comments. Don't leave me hangin'!

1. Recently, while at a nearby cafe, I told the owner I could make her blackboard menu for her. I've now become a blackboard artist. A 4' x 8' blackboard is in my house while I work on it. I love working on it. I'm good at it. I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it.

2. I'm scared at a primal level to love anyone again and yet I continue to confront this fear daily by reaching out to people, including the man I'm dating, to be vulnerable. I can't do it without mouth-drying, hand-shaking, stomach-churning fear, but I'm doing it anyway because what's the point of living if you're not opening your heart, right? Sheesh.

3. I just made an appointment to talk to a career advisor at Portland State University so I can decide what I want to do when I go back to school. Which I'm going to do. I've deliberated over it for so long. Time to stop deliberating and just do it. Here we go.

I suppose the hard part about really seeing my courage is that before Dave died, I don't think these 3 accomplishments would have come with so much fear. Some part of me thought that brave equals no fear. So my brain thinks I used to be brave and now I'm not. Where did I get that? When did my brain decide that brave means no fear? I guess it's our society, isn't it?

It's cool to be confident and brazen and fearless and it's a little shameful to be terrified and shaky and blundering. But then again, how brave is it to do something you're not afraid to do? Not really brave at all.

Okay. In that case, I'm brave. And so are all of you.


  1. Laura and I always talked about retiring to Germany. Last March, 11 months after her death, I went to the area we wanted to retire to to see if it was still my dream. I found that Germany was an "our" dream and isn't a "my" dream. But I would never have known if I hadn't gotten the courage to book the airline and vacation home.

    1. Amazing courage! I love it. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Today I get possession of the house I just bought.
    And on Friday I close on the house Dave & I bought 18 years ago.
    It is definitely scarey to do this alone. And it definitely sucks. And at times I can feel a physical weight pressing on my chest making it hard to breathe sometimes.
    I just keep going, knowing that I'll be fine. This is a big step, but it's a good step and I know that it will be freeing to me in the end.
    Physically, emotionally, & financially freeing.
    (I'm downsizing in both house size and property size so it will be a lot less work, and cost a lot less money to keep the house going.)

    It was/is A LOT of work to purge, sell, & pack up our house of 18 years. It was and still feels very overwhelming as I'm not quite there yet. But I just kept plugging away. Week by week, and month by month until the job was done. (A lot of wine has been consumed in that time. Lol!)
    I did have one melt-down one evening after selling a number of lovely and meaningful pieces of furniture that simply won't fit in my new place. As the third item in 2 days was carried out the front door I felt an overwhelming urge to run out to the driveway and ask for it back. My heart was screaming at my mind, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! THOSE ARE BEAUTIFUL ITEMS THAT DAVE & I BOUGHT TOGETHER!!! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE PIECES! THERE HAS TO BE A WAY TO KEEP THEM!"
    But I closed the front door as the tears fell, and I texted a friend who talked me down.
    In the end though, it's all just stuff and it was the right choice to let them go.

    It has been 6 months from the time I first spoke with the agent in March until now. And as I write this, it reminds me that it was exactly 6 months that Dave was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer and then died.

    Thank you for the post, but you're right. I usually don't feel brave. I'm usually just trying to get the job done.

    1. That's incredible courage. Go you!

  3. I accepted an offer for a new job. I'm scared like hell, but I will do it. After 16 years on the same job, I am making a change, something I've been dreaming about when my husband was still alive. It is a great career opportunity for me, almost to good to be true. Scared, but facing it head on.

  4. well, darlin' - you know what I just did, and am doing. Panic attacks and all. About to drive around with the dog and check out neighborhoods.

  5. Good for you for dating, haven't taken that step yet (well, I don't count my 95 yr old neighbor as a date!).

    I'm trying to be a support for my adult son, who has decided to leave his wife. He is hurting, and I am putting my grief aside to try to bring him some insight at this fork in the road.

    I also made it thru another summer of managing cottage rentals on a lake. Many days I just wanted everyone to go away, but I smiled anyway, and persevered until they all went home. Enjoying the quiet fall days now.