‘F’ is for Fear

I wrote in an email last week to my Mom that I have made some decisions, recognizing that I am at a new stage of my life, about how I will act and what I will feel, and that I’ve accepted that I am now 46 years old; I might have 40 more years to live, or four, or just four days…after all my family’s creed is  “tomorrow you could be run over by a pie wagon.”

I want to live my life in a way that more deeply fulfills me, and I want to make choices which reflect that, and mostly I don’t want to be ‘afraid’ that people will judge me about it, when those choices are different from theirs …When I was younger for example, although truth be told, as recently as this year, if my Mom or Dad called me on a morning and I was still in my pajamas and had not yet left for work, I would tell a little white lie that I was already on my way to work…why?  Because I didn’t want my parents to think I was a slacker.  That is just a silly example of a very serious flaw that has resided in me for all of my adult life and one that I believe I am done with owning…Fear of disappointing my parents, that I was not working hard enough or did not have enough of a drive to earn a good living or that my work ethic was not as strong as my Dad’s or, or, or…you see my Dad LOVES, L O V E S to work…hard.  He does not have hobbies, he does not watch sports, he does not like to hang out at a bar, he does not go to the beach…”play time” that is appealing to him is using his Kubota to move heavy objects from one place to another, or digging holes or planting trees or building new pantry doors for my mother, or, or, or…so for much of my life I have been striving to achieve this level of productiveness and I realized this winter, it is not who I am and it is not who I want to be.

I got the beginnings of a cold on Super Bowl Sunday and proceeded to work fewer than 50 hours this entire month of February…I had what I think was the flu during the first week of the month and a deep chest cold during the second, and by last week I finally felt a bit more alive, but still not good, and I did a lot of crocheting and a lot of thinking these last 24 days.  I thought until my thinker was sore, as Dr. Seuss might say, and I decided that I want to be comfortable with working hard enough to pay my bills and survive in this modern world,  but to also be comfortable with spending my Saturdays this summer on the beach in a chair watching my boyfriend teach three beautiful little girls  how to surf, or spending a Friday night looking at the stars above our houses  with my son-in-law and drinking shots of FireBall until we can’t keep our eyes open, or not leaving for work until after 10 on a Wednesday because this boy I love and I want to go out to breakfast…just because…

I feel like I have accepted that being afraid of appearing to be a slacker to my parents diminishes my quality of life.  I don’t mean to sound so dramatic, it’s not.  My parents are both VERY unlike their parents…in TOO many ways to count, and neither of them ever felt the need to apologize for it.  My mom and dad are both so dissimilar to both of their mothers and fathers that you could count what they had in common on one hand.  If I find one month that I’ve got an extra $150 I would get a massage and fill my wine rack…my mom, when she was my age, would’ve bought a savings bond for my daughter or just added the credit to her household budget.  My mom is VERY responsible and I do envy her skill at money management.  My Dad married her almost 48 years ago and has known nothing of their financial situation since.  She is extraordinary, and I have come to accept that I am not her.  My Dad is now retired, and is STILL the hardest working man I will EVER know, now he just works at home or for us, his family, and not for the rich customers on the beach.  He is extraordinary, and I have come to accept that I am not him.

I spent most of my adult life fearful of not measuring up to their expectations, and have come to realize this month of bitterly cold gray days that it does not matter, they did not put them on me, I put them on me.  A friend mailed a book to me a couple of years ago called “When Fear Falls Away” and I read it, and I really really liked it, but I don’t know if I got out of it what my friend did, because frankly I didn’t change much, and I still felt all the same angst I always did…now, these bleak February days sort of pushed me over my edge…I can’t say that I “get it” fully but I get it better now, my fear of being a not good enough daughter, worker, mother, friend, housekeeper, etc., all of it is self induced pressure and I think this month I’ve finally popped from it.  I don’t claim to be enlightened or changed or that I have no fears anymore, but I do, these last couple of days feel a little more comfortable with who I am and who I’ve been, and it is after 9 and I have not left for work yet and I am not afraid to own it.  I think it’s a step in the right direction…


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