An Open Letter About (My) Fears

I have ruminated a lot about the infallible human dichotomy. The inescapable contradiction of human nature – that our lives are significantly insignificant. We can have profound impact on other people in our lives, on the world around us. Our everyday decisions dictate what our individual carbon footprint is, our impact on the earth’s increasingly fragile ecosystem. Our words can significantly affect how those around us see the world, see themselves, treat each other and themselves. We have friends and family around us that rely on us in some way, and in turn – are there to be relied upon. We support each other in this life and we each take something form the other – be it positive or negative, moral or financial – we all give and take and have incredible effects on those around us. All of these significant effects are profound, and amazing, and rewarding – yet at the end of our lives the universe is still expanding, the sun is still dying and our lives on this remote planet are just as equally insignificant. It is all in the details, in how we choose to see our lives and our successful and positive impacts and our defeats. It is in how we deal with the lows to better appreciate the highs.
With this in mind I have decided to write an open letter to clear up some confusion about my fears.
My husband and I are very lucky. At the ages of 30 & 31 we were able to choose to quit our jobs to travel for several months and now find ourselves back home in Michigan facing some pretty big decisions. Some small decisions end up making huge impacts on our lives. Choosing to take the job at Circuit City after college instead of the job at Kohl’s (I graduated in 2006 when there were so many college grads flooding the market that most of us were lucky to have a choice of two retail jobs) led to my meeting my split apart whom I have now been happily married to for almost eight years. Some big decisions lead to epic failures or totally quiet and small successes that end up just being a shrug of the shoulders that we just need to move on from to better prepare for the next part of our lives. Right now it feels that we have some big choices to make. We need to decide where we want to be, what city, what state, what country. We need to settle on and decide to invest in one of the many passions we have and open a business. Our goal is ultimately to be able to work for ourselves and to work together. That’s it. We’ve had two jobs in our eight years where we worked together and we were happy to see each other throughout the day, we were happy to drive in to work and home together. But ultimately – we have decided that money is not everything, and working together for someone else, in a job that we find unfulfilling will not make us happy. We want to be happy and that will only come when we are working together in our own business or businesses.
In our pursuit to sort out our thoughts and clarify what our choices are over the past month or so, we have enlisted the help of my father. He is a realtor and we figured we could seek some real estate advice from him. It has not been so successful. I have had a trying relationship at times with him. I have come to recognize that we are both equally at fault for the trying part of the relationship. Every relationship is made of equal measures – each person puts in fifty percent – it is always fifty percent – it’s just what each person puts in that can make it feel like such a burden or such a blessing. It may have been a mistake to ask him for help and to entrust him with our secret little planning – but in reality it has kind of turned out exactly as we expected it would so maybe we never allowed it to be anything but a mistake in choosing to enlist his help and seek his advice since we knew what we were getting into. Say la vie. I’m over it. However, today we picked him up from the the airport after a two week stint down in Florida to celebrate his 70th birthday and to get away from the gray Michigan winter. We housesat for him for 16 days, cared for his dog and cat and cleared feet of snow from his ridiculously long driveway. On the way back he treated us to lunch and brought up the same old conversation/lecture on how we just need to decide on something and do it and stop letting fear intercede. It is difficult at this point in my life to go too deeply into anything with him because it always ends with miscommunication, frustration and annoyance for both parties. It has gotten better a I have become clearer about my message and stronger in my delivery of it, but still, sitting at a busy bar on a Sunday afternoon whilst watching golf did not feel like the best of times to have a deep discussion about fear.
I hear this from him all the time. He’s my fear monger – the person in my life that keeps reminding me that I might be afraid of something. Stop letting fear over rule me, stop letting fear in, it’s always going to be there, just get over it. What is frustrating is that I just don’t think he gets that every single one of us deals with different fears. I do not share his fears. Maybe on a large scale, sure, but I genuinely believe there are very few people on this significantly large planet that share the same driving fears. Not the fears of spiders or birds or bees or sharks. Not even the fear of death. Those are overarching phobias that we each have with weird stories of where they originated and rarely affect us on a day to day basis. I’m talking the fears that drive us to succeed and keep us from it. Those big driving fears are just so dependent on who we are, what we want to be, what we don’t want to be and where we have come from. I am extremely fortunate to have never had to fear hunger, or if I would have a safe place to sleep at night, or if my mother or I would be subjected to unmentionable horrors because we were women born in the wrong part of the world at the wrong time. My driving fears come from my genetic make up. The chemical firings and misfirings that lead me to be a manic depressive. Sometimes I am terrified that I am destined to commit suicide like my Uncle Larry did – he was my father’s closest and younger brother. Sometimes I am terrified that I will live forever but be cursed with this sometimes debilitating and crushing and defeating depression. But these are not really my driving fears. So in order to avoid any future misunderstandings; let’s clear up what it is that I am afraid of exactly. At least for now. And these are as succinct as I can make them. Which is ridiculous.
I am afraid of being undeserving. That I don’t deserve the happiness that has come my way, that I have created, that I am lucky enough to have.
I am afraid that I don’t deserve my husband – he is good, and loving and accepting – and I fear that I don’t deserve him.
I am afraid that my fear of being undeserving will become a self fulfilling prophecy, that my happiness will go away because it too agrees that I don’t deserve it anymore.
I am afraid of losing my passion and my spark and my creativity to the black abyss of depression.
I am afraid of losing my compassion and empathy for all living beings (humans and otherwise).
I am afraid of my own head and getting lost in it.
I am afraid of slipping into an easy life with a steady job and good pay. I am afraid of just surviving and not living.
I am afraid of never having the guts to say this to my dad or my mom or anyone who really matters in my life because none of us ever have enough time on this earth to say everything we need to.

Day Twenty Nine

chandelier

Well it has finally happened…..one of my closest friends has turned thirty today. I’m all that’s left holding onto my 20s. Three weeks left, and counting. I started with seven weeks, seven & three are the numbers I am claiming as lucky. These first four weeks have been a little slow, non? That means the next three need to be kicked up to eleven.

Today was going to be the day that I told three of my closer friends that my love and I are moving. That I have not been feeling that great mentally, and that it hurt me that they have never really followed up on how I have been feeling. Instead we are going to a big birthday dinner in honor of the big 3-0 and I have decided to let it go. I’ve said it before, but it still gnaws at me. I hate that it gnaws at me. I will be letting go of those feelings. Regret for telling them anything at all, guilt that my crazy has changed the way they look at me, guilt that I care if they see me differently after being open and honest with some of my closest confidants. I’m moving on. I have to. I am not going to tell them about the move until we go out another time – I don’t want to steal my girl’s thunder on her birthday.

Also, I’m a little nervous to tell them because I have a bad feeling about a few of their likely reactions. I’ve been keeping this exciting and big news pretty low key because I don’t want to be asked how it’s going, when, where, etc. I don’t want to hear objections and suggestions. I just want everyone we tell to be super happy for us and nothing more. Because that is what I always am for their big life decisions and changes.

Anyway. I finally started reading Elaine Lui’s Listen to the Squawking Chicken today. God, she is so funny. If I could have any trait, it would be Lainey’s ability to write. To me creative talents like writing – are gifted to people. You are born with it. Sure you can practice and get better – but few people are truly gifted at expressing themselves in thought-provoking pose. Words are powerful and I am jealous of those who easily control them.

Aside from the dinner, being the last to turn thirty and reading the first chapter of a great new book – today will hold another first. I will make sure of it. And I will fill in all the gory details tomorrow because for the first time – I have this post written twelve hours before deadline.

UPDATE: My last first came when I was challenged to a beer chugging contest with two of my best friends – admittedly I was goaded on by a couple of shots and my very first time ever order of bourbon on the rocks. I will still conquer bourbon this year. Anyway; I was confident – then one friend started talking herself up a bit. I got a little nervous, but I still had a good feeling that I would walk away the champion. And I did. I finished my 16 oz Miller Lite in about four seconds – dominating the competition and revealing for the first time my favorite not-so-great-I-don’t-know-that-this-is-something-to-be-proud-of  talent of excellence in beer chugging to friends I have known for years. Stay classy.