My friend Lisa from Memphis sent me these quotes this morning with the sentiment that they fit me right now. She has no idea how well they fit me right now, and I’m sure glad she sent them. Also attached to the email was this blog entitled Do You Ever Feel the Squeeze? I read the first sentence and thought … oh, yes … I’m feeling the squeeze right now .… putting my butt on the line.
I’ve had two friends tell me this week how brave I am – how much courage it takes to do what I just did. The funny thing is I don’t think it’s brave at all. I’ve done this so many times before that it just feels like something I do. Now, looking back on what I just did I realize how much energy, strength, faith and guts it took. But, brave … not brave … although I welcome the compliment. I learned a long time ago that courage is not being fearless. Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I think I’m more fearless than brave. Now, put me in an environment where I have to take care of a kid. That takes courage for me. And, for most of my friends that’s a no-brainer. We all have different fears. I see them as brave for doing what they did. It takes courage to make that lifetime commitment. But, they probably never even gave it a second thought just like I don’t give relocating across country a second thought.
Last night, my friend Jean Ann hosted a Welcome Home Party for me. It was a last minute deal, and she got together a small group of our childhood friends. I walked in, and everybody was already there in her kitchen. I looked at all of those faces, and I was astounded at the connection I felt in that room. These were the faces of the girls I’d grown up with. We’d worn those stupid gymsuits in PE class together and fretted about how ugly they were. We’d gotten boobs together and gone through the awkwardness of becoming a young woman. We’d had our first loves and our first chances at sex together. We didn’t talk about all this stuff back then, but we talked about it last night. I jokingly asked if any of them were still virgins when they got out of high school. One of them raised her hand and said, “I was”. Her best high school friend looked at her incredulously and reminded her that she was NOT a virgin when she graduated. She thought a minute and laughed, “Oh yeah. I forgot.” I hate to tell you high school boys, you weren’t all that memorable for the most part. We were too busy wondering about our popularity, our hair and how big our butts were.
I felt the first wash of fear when I looked at those faces all lined up in Jean Ann’s kitchen. It wasn’t about what I’d just done – moving across three states, changing jobs and starting a new life. It was about my own aging and mortality. More than 30 years has passed. Every now and then it hits me that I’m on the backside of my life. Yes, I have lots of living left to do, but there are choices that are no longer available to me. There are also new choices available to me now that I’ve never had before. They are just as daunting and fearful now as the early life choices were back then. The difference is me. I have an awareness now that the choices I make in my life lead me down different paths, and the path is shorter now. There is less time to recoup from a choice that doesn’t work out like I’d like. I felt that wash of fear about my mortality wash over me for just a moment as I looked at my dear friends that I have to get to know all over again.
We talked about fear … about the squeeze…. about putting our butts on the line. One of my friends talked about how difficult it was to make a decision to divorce and another said the hardest thing to do in the world was to tell your husband that you want out. Most had lost people they loved deeply – brothers, parents, children. We talked about the fear of long-term commitment and what that means. The fear of aging and what’s happening to our bodies is one that’s in our face right now. We all have fear. We all feel the squeeze. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life it’s that we all have these different occurrences that happen. I may not face a challenge that you face. But, we all have the same handful of powerful emotions and reactions. I think God does a beautiful thing by giving us this one platform to live in from an emotional perspective. And, for women, that perspective is very, very powerful. Emotional pain IS the squeeze. And, we put ourselves in the squeeze when we love, commit, live and make choices.
I felt a second wash of fear come over me later in the night. We were sitting in the living room talking about past boyfriends and looking them up on Facebook. Bookface is what we called it last night based on Tammy’s father’s mispronunciation of the technology. And, yes, if you were one of our high school boyfriends or crushes, you got talked about last night. Deal with it. There weren’t that many boys in our school, so, if you went to Live Oak, you were probably discussed. You’d better hope you treated us well. We talked about how old we were when we reached puberty and whether or not we’ve closed that door with menopause. We talked about the fun times we had at Susan’s house. We talked about the friends and acquaintances whom we’ve lost to death. We looked at pictures and were horrified at what we were wearing and how bad our hair looked. Some worries never go away. It was all so very familiar and yet so strange.
Somebody asked me if I was questioning my decision to move back yet. There was a moment just before she asked the question where I felt the grip of fear. It was really a shot of terror. I don’t even know what triggered it. Maybe it was the topic of conversation or maybe it was just a moment where I understood the gravity of what I’d just done. I had just made a major life change in 6 weeks. There are so many losses and so many new things to discover. There are so many gifts to this particular move that I can’t count them here. One of them is that I’ve been so supported. I do feel loved already here. I’ve never had that in a move before. I’ve had to build it. But, for some reason, that feels a little scary, too. What if I’m not the person they think I am? What if I fail to meet their expectations? What if they are not the people I think they are? What if …. what if … what if …?
I am feeling the squeeze. I just put my butt on the line…. AGAIN. It makes me feel alive. They say in recovery that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Whatever happens, I have the tools to cope. The thing is, this feels so right. Even with the occasional grip of fear, this move has had a life of its own. From the way it started as an idea to the way it happened, it’s been out of my control. I just said yes, and the Universe said Consider it done … just keep doing the next right thing. And, I do feel alive … grateful … blessed … sad … happy … overwhelmed and, yes, maybe even brave. I can only imagine that it might be the feeling a mother or father has as they look at a newborn. There must be a beautiful mix of love, familiarity and fear. And, it’s just too damn late to give in to fear… you have to feel the squeeze …..