What am I afraid of?
Not going after what I know will make me happy.
When I think about all the things I spend my money on, I’d be highly disappointed knowing that I could have taken that trip three times over but instead I spent my money on eating out every day. And investing always more on behalf of my employer or others than on myself. I’m afraid of putting all my energy into superficial things without stopping to change course. Or forgetting those past successes that remind me of the bigger picture—that the universe is seeking to help me at every turn.
I want to live without restrictions and I want that for everybody I meet. Why – because we are our best selves in this state. We are more valuable when our experiences stretch us and create discomfort.
I’m not going to give you 7 Ways to Live without Regret nor make a bullet list of do’s and don’ts. But I am going to share a story that caused me to reëxamine who I had become because of the story I kept repeating. At that moment I said more than likely what I said this morning, “I am powerful.”
For over a year now I have hammered away at my memoir. I feel good about it. I even wrote an outline recently to wrap my mind around it. In my memoir, I share how a handful of men shaped and molded me into the person I am today. Please don’t misunderstand some of these men caused me a great deal of pain. The experiences I share have the potential to make a reader reëxamine the stories they tell.
For so long I realized, I have been afraid of the possibility of something happening that never materialized. I open my memoir by revealing my paranoia of my father in childhood. I wanted him to be better than the man who came to visit my sister and me. To me, he was a bum. I feared that he’d show up at my school, at the playground, and while out on field trips. Simply put, he became my imaginary boogie-man. While little children were screaming in the dark at shadows, my biggest fear was my dad.
I see the row house on Capitol Hill. I hear the black wrought iron-gate screeching in my ears. I imagine the cobblestone pavement under my feet leading up to the stairs. Standing there on the porch looking down at my dad. I still can see him standing there bible in hand. He’s looking at my sister and me sitting on the stairs. I have on my flower speckled roper. The smell coming off him of piss stinging my nostrils. He’s reading, I don’t know, the Lord’s Prayer maybe. He has lost me because instead of hearing all the great things Jesus can do, I began to judge him—what can God do for you? What do you want? Why don’t you love me?
On that day I was around four or five years old. It is my earliest memory of my dad. A man who I began to wish away until he did without a trace. The judgment that I spewed towards him caused me to create a story so terrifying that I began to hate him. The story about my dad started small with a bit of judgment here and there until it grew out of control. And again, I started to panic about going places because I feared he’d show up and embarrass me. This, of course, prevented me from being present and enjoying the benefits of any experience.
Today my story about my dad is much different. That day sitting on the stairs, he was man enough. Despite the choices he made he was there for me and my sister. I know that you can only give what you have. And although what he had to give then would never have been good enough I’m ok with that now. Maybe he didn’t have his own words to offer that day. What if he believed that reading to us from the bible was the best he had to give? I accept that rather than the story I told myself for so long. It is because of him that I thought twice about allowing peer pressure convince me that drugs were fun. And the reason I have empathy for others.
My life changed when I decided that focusing on the lessons learned instead of the things I cannot change.
You are the author of your story. Change how you tell it so that it adds to your life.
Live. Tell. Experience your best life yet.