I turned 40 this week, and I’ve been reflecting on my life and how to live it moving forward.
I’ve been through some challenging surprises. Besides my three-year-old daughter dying from an unknown disease, my parents unexpectedly divorced when I was 12. Both happened suddenly and changed the trajectory of my life. Because I know what it is like to be caught off guard by tragedy, I have become someone who looks for danger in the calm.
When I was 13, my English teacher introduced me to a quote by Louisa May Alcott. “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” I initially thought it meant - I’ve been heartbroken, so I can handle anything. But that didn’t make me less afraid of hardships. I’ve been thinking about this quote and one question keeps coming to my mind: How could I become less fearful of tragedy?
After June died, I thought I could handle anything. I had been through the worst thing possible - losing a child, anything else I could manage. I quickly realized that if I could lose one child, what would stop me from losing another? Or my husband? What if I die and leave my boys motherless? I can become absorbed in a spiral of “what ifs” and imagined catastrophes that seem plausible.
Last week while away from my kids where I overcame some fears, I realized that Alcott meant that she is not afraid of suffering because she believed in herself. She wasn’t scared of misfortune because she trusted her ability to navigate through it. The storms might be complex, challenging, and insufferable, but she’s not worried they will break her, and that’s why she is fearless. She has faith in what she’s learned along the way.
Self-trust may be one of the hardest lessons for me to master. I’m discovering that I am a whole lot stronger than I realize. You are too. My fears are intense, and I don’t want them to transpire. But I’m done pushing them away because that makes them even more powerful. I’ve decided to sit with them and let them have a voice. Because deep down, I think it’s really just 12-year-old me afraid of how she will handle the unknowns of life, and she’s done a pretty good job. I’m going to have a little more faith in her. 💞🐞