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.