Four nights ago, around 9:30 in the evening, I was walking along one of my favorite parts of the city near me. Enjoying the crisp cold air, the evening sky, and the reflection of the city lights shimmering on the water below the bridge I was standing on, when I became the target of what I am now ready to believe was a teen-age/college-age prank.
One that was frightening nonetheless. As I was leaning against the railing, lost in thought, I was grabbed from behind, pressed up against, and a few...lewd words were whispered in my ear. My immediate reaction surprised me, as well as the jokester....because I shouted something along the lines of "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING!!!!" Which caused him to run away.
I stood there, frozen for what seemed an eternity...ready to dial 911, but my fingers/mind couldn't seem to do it...it didn't seem quite real at the time...and as I began to process information again, I rationalized the incident by
thinking of it as some sort of sick joke or dare, as I was in a very public place, in an area that is always filled with young people. Although due to the cold, I had thought I was alone on the bridge.
Anyway, I pushed it out of mind, or so I thought. Until I tried to sleep that night. I couldn't, all the could'ves ran through my mind. I began to cry...and cry...and cry. I remember finally drifting off in the wee hours of the morning. Waking up...and dealing with the multitudes of activities that needed to be accomplished on Sunday morning...I had surprise house guests (friends of Miss Daughter), as well as puppies to get ready for adoption, (we have given away 3, with 2 more on the most wanted list...Hooray!). So, again, I didn't allow any negative thoughts to hinder me, until sundown. Again, the tears began to well up and overflow. I didn't understand why I felt so traumatized. Nothing happened.
I also became ill with a touch of the flu bug I am guessing, and maybe a lot of stress, and ended up staying home on Monday, again a day filled with tears, so many tears. I couldn't understand where the tears were coming from.
I had not been injured...frightened yes, but no injuries, no trauma. I was fine.
Then I realized what was really going on in my brain. All of these years and years I have been filled with feelings...feelings of inadequacy, feelings of fear, feeling that I would never ever attain even the smallest of my dreams.
Saturday taught me a lesson. Safety is only in our mind. Fear is only in our mind.
As each hour passed, I realized, the two biggest fears I have been dealing with in recent months...financial insecurity, and the fear of not going for my dreams when I am free of this marriage, free of the major responsibility of motherhood...were holding me back as much as I had allowed all of my other past fears to.
I then held a conversation with me.
Asking myself the questions I needed answers to.
* * * *
"What is the worse thing that can happen if I find myself poor and alone at age 70, 75, 80?"
"I live a life of discomfort."
"And, then? What?"
"If I am that unhappy, who says I have to keep living? If I am so poor, and unhealthy I hate my life...who says I have to continue with it?"
"End your life? You think you could/would really do that? Just because you didn't like your life?"
"Only if there seemed to be no other choice, only if I were unable to find joy in the small things. But it isn't really about suicide in old age...it is about realizing that it doesn't really matter. It is a silly fear. Not the financially secure thing...of course that is important...but there are no guarantees in life...so why not just do what I can to attempt to insure I will have what I need, and stop the damn worrying!"
* * * *
The fear will take a while to completely disappear, but it is definitely a ghost of its old self.
I moved on to fear number two.
* * * *
"Why do you think you will stay stagnant, and not follow up on your dreams?"
"The financial security thing was a part of it...but aside from that...I don't know...hmm.
Why don't I think I will follow my dreams?
Because I never have."
"So, I had responsibilities, I thought our marriage was important, I thought Soon-to-be-ex would be a part of some of those dreams. Admit it, I really believed for the longest time that he would take part, that we would explore some things together. I had a dream for the two of us, that took a really long time to let go of."
"I did, but when I realized that wasn't going to happen, aside from the other stuff, I gave up that dream."
"That doesn't mean I have to give up on MY dreams. Does it? What am I really afraid of?"
* * * *
An epiphany of sorts...it started a process...a process I have been holding off on because I kept thinking I couldn't even make tentative plans until the divorce was final.
But I can, and I have started the process. I don't know where I will be in six months time...but I have begun...I have sent out a few job feelers. I have begun the process of exploring graduate school options, I have my passport application filled out, and ready to turn in on Monday of next week.
The tears were months and months worth of emotions held in check. The tears were years and years worth of fear that I wouldn't be able to live up to my own expectations.
So even though, a young man for what ever reason chose me to frighten. I have to thank him for allowing me to realize I am free.
I am free to make choices for me.