My friend D was coming home the next day after a late night out. With her Mom driving, they pulled up to her duplex which had been spray painted during the night with nasty graffiti by someone’s jealous ex. The graffiti said “slut”, “whore”, “bitch” and other things you wouldn’t want your mother to see. “Dammit, now everyone’s gonna know!” was D’s response.
Of course she was joking, but that’s how I feel starting this blog. Putting my life, and my husband’s, out here feels like I’m naked and exposed for everyone to see, that everyone is “gonna know”. I’m worried about the judgments and labels that people might think about me. I’m worried about saying something that will offend or embarrass someone I care about.
I get anxious, a lot, and imagine every possible way something could go horribly wrong. Whenever Chris, my husband, and I leave the apartment together (which doesn’t happen a lot), I worry about our little dogs and somehow that there will be an electrical fire, and they’re trapped in there, all alone. I go around and unplug everything I see—lamps, fans, cell phone plugs, whatever—and then proceed to worry about what I’ve forgotten for the next 30 minutes.
New things and big changes are especially hard. This year has been full of scary, but amazing, changes. I spontaneously quit my job to go back to college. Maybe some planning would have helped? But I had been stuck in a temporary job for 2 ½ years with no end in sight. I felt like with Rory, my son, off to college and me turning forty, I had reached that point that it was time to do something different, something for me. Up till then, my whole adult life had been for someone else, I was 19 when I got pregnant, and spent 21 years thinking about Rory, first. It was time to think about the future I wanted for me. So, I enrolled in the local JC to finish my transfer work. I took super challenging classes that were way out of my comfort zone. In high school I’d had an English teacher that made me think I couldn’t write, but that’s what I wanted to do. I took a writing course that I knew would be really hard with a very critical professor, but that would make me a better writer. Surrounded by younger students who were much more confident than I was, I found out pimples and wrinkles are definitely not mutually exclusive, and thank god for Retin-A, it takes care of both.
But, those weren’t the only changes. Rory went to fight forest fires followed by joining the Marines, changes that threatened heart attack after heart attack for a mother, and totally conflicting emotions for Chris. He was proud that Rory wanted to follow in his footsteps and be a Marine, but also burdened by the weight of the responsibility of that choice from someone who has paid the price and lived through war weighed on him. But through anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty, I can’t help but see the possibilities.
“Great love and great achievements involve great risks.” -Dalai Lama
In my life, the best rewards have come from taking the biggest risks, like my marriage. After meeting through friends, Chris and I had dated for only six weeks when we moved in together. We had both been through bad marriages and knew what we were looking for. He told me he was what I needed and what Rory needed, and that he would never do me wrong. I was scared, but I trusted him. So we jumped. Throw in two of his three teenagers and his combat disabilities and it could have been a disaster. 11 years later, I’m still crazy about him.
Now that we’re “empty nesters”, it would be easy to just be satisfied that we did our job raising amazing, happy kids, but we’re not old yet (even though he thinks he is sometimes). I want excitement and fun. So we’ve started with small things, like changing the way we eat. We’ve embraced the paleo/primal/whole foods diet and it’s helped with both his weight and maybe his inflammation (I’m no doctor) to decrease his back pain. We walk more and ride our bikes along the river. We are taking baby steps, but it’s a beginning to maybe camping under the stars and hikes to secluded coves on the coast. I see this blog as a way to broaden our horizons, to see things we’ve never seen together and get out of our comfort zone, together.