A lot of people describe me as strong. A lot of people describe me as brave. I’m not sure I am either of those things.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that people find positive terms to describe me, and find the things I have done and survived inspirational. I certainly didn’t think that was going to be the outcome at any point, I was simply getting through. As Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
But it’s not that easy.
Some days, you get tired of hell. Really tired. And you just can’t keep going.
You get to make it up, that’s what. Because whatever you decide is right for you, at that time, is the right thing. And you don’t feel bad about it, you just get through, doing whatever you need to.
I think a lot of times we put too much pressure on ourselves to do too much, and don’t give ourselves enough credit for what’s been accomplished. I think a lot of times we are afraid to ask for help, and assume we need to carry the burden ourselves. I don’t think that’s a good thing to do.
I see a lot of people assuming responsibility for things that they could share responsibility for. I see a lot of people denying themselves a lot of opportunities because they think (fill in the blank) will never be able to continue or thrive without their help.
Well, they are wrong. Really. There’s plenty of assistance out there, you need only to ask.
We get into habits of taking care of people, pets, ongoing crises and forget that life changes. Situations change. We can re-evaluate, but we don’t. We need to be needed. We want to be needed.
We create, maintain and even sabotage systems so that we can feel needed and relevant. But the other side of that coin is that we forget to take care of ourselves and our own needs, and we diminish ourselves to the point of exhaustion.
That needs to stop. Really. No excuses anymore.
When’s the last time you really sat down and looked at things for what they really are? Are you living with the illusion of a situation that’s long been outlived? Isn’t there something you’ve wanted to do, to try, a place you’ve wanted to visit? You’ve got to get out there and do it, and you have to do it now. Stop waiting for everything to be done, or be right, or to have enough money, or time.
You can’t think about it too much. You have to follow your heart. You really do. Here’s the part of being “strong” and “brave” that you typically don’t hear about.
When I was newly divorced, my friends scattered. Actually, they did that long before the papers were even signed. I not only lost a husband of more than 20 years, but also my closest friend of almost 40 years, and my circle of who I thought were my friends.
For a long time, I couldn’t figure out what happened. I still haven’t, really. But what I did figure out is that it doesn’t matter. I realized that if I sat around waiting for others to do things with, that I would be waiting forever. So, I decided to just start doing things, anyway.
Many people saw that as strong and brave, and perhaps it was. But it was really just me, taking what I saw as the next step. It took a very long time before I took that first step. But once I was ready, I took that first step, and after that, I found a way to take another next step. And another.
I didn’t pop out of a phone booth in a superhero costume. I just took the most reasonable next step, one that stretched me a little. One that scared me a little. Sometimes a lot.
As someone whose trust had been shattered by many, I found ways to trust the universe again by taking baby steps. They weren’t all good, right, pleasant or successful. But being baby steps, it was easy to overcome the sense of disappointment there, and then take a step in another direction.
The universe has a way of leaving you breadcrumbs to follow, but it takes some awareness to watch for them. And sometimes you just have to fail your way to success.
Eventually through these baby steps I found a way to build a new life of my own. I found a way to distract myself from the pain with activities that I loved. I found a way to attend movies on my own without feeling odd about it.
I found a way to become a homeowner. I found a way to enjoy singing and dancing for large crowds of people (who actually enjoyed it). I found a way to not only own a motorcycle, but found other ladies who enjoy the sport. I found ways to travel long distances alone without fear.
I found ways to meet strangers who share the love of other sports and have a great time doing it. I found ways to let go of the feelings I had for those who hurt me, and put the pain in perspective.
I’m still finding ways to reach places that seem out of reach, whether they are on a mountaintop, in the middle of the ocean, or deep inside my soul. And I’m still making a lot of mistakes on the way.
There are many steps backward.
The key to it all is taking one step at a time, the most reasonable step. The step that stretches you and scares you a little bit.
Take a hard look. You might need to take some baby steps too.
Really. It’s time.