Ever so gradually my life became more lighthearted, which meant the scary overcast shadow that had been a daily visitor no longer arrived at the dawn of each day. I was able to slowly begin to focus on living instead of merely surviving, as simple pleasures returned along with some unexpected carefree moments. A new level of gratitude also entered my existence due to a richer depth of appreciation I faced now that I was able to understand the precious experience that a joy-filled life provides. I was then able to view my life as a prized gift to be valued, treasure and loved. I was honored to greet the improved version of myself...what an unusual but beautiful moment! I wasn't yet aware that my improved self was about to be put to the test, and soon.
Do you recall the kitchen duty I had very willingly volunteered to perform? Well that safe plan blew into many tiny pieces on the day I received a letter from Suzanne offering me an opportunity to give one of the speeches at the retreat. What?! What?! Me give a talk in front of a group of high school students? She should have known me well enough by then to understand that there would be absolutely no possibility of me accepting her invitation! The letter asked if I would write and present to the group my story of the effect of love vs. infatuation in my own personal relationship. After the initial shock subsided and my heartbeat returned to normal, the first coherent thought was that I would immediately need to call Suzanne and gently explain to her that I was not prepared to openly share the experience of my private relationship, marriage and divorce from Jon, and definitely not in front of Jessica and her peers. I was sure she would understand my reluctance and put me back on kitchen duty where I would feel safe and secure.
It didn't take me long into my conversation with Suzanne to realize that my negative response to her request was not going to be an easy sell...for every apprehension I shared, she had a reasonable argument for me to reconsider. My unconvincing facade of inadequacy was quickly falling to pieces under my close scrutiny of the courageous trust that Suzanne presented for me to process and consider. I was left with an unmistakable truth that I finally had to confess to myself. It was challenging for me to own this fact, much less declare it out loud, even though I was only admitting this reality to myself. The only obstacle in my way was fear, fear, fear...that nasty, ugly shadow that I had done almost anything to avoid, yet there it was, staring me in the face. I knew there was only one way for me to handle this, I needed to face the fear and walk through it with dignity and courage! How does a truly frightened person accomplish this feat? I think I was about to find out!