Be Fearless, Live Fearless

When my long-time friend Liz at FitnessBlondie posted that she would be doing a #BeFearless link-up today, I couldn’t wait to participate. It’s a beautiful thing she’s doing, compiling so many people’s stories about overcoming unimaginable obstacles and surviving at the end of the day. I thought about how many of these trying moments I have had in my life, and I have spent every. single. moment. since the announcement of this link-up trying to pinpoint my most fearless moment.

The thing is, I couldn’t. I still can’t. I cannot hone in on one moment I feel is particularly more fearless than the others because I have had so many of them. I started to stress last night and figured I would come to terms with whatever decision I made in the light of the early morning.

I finally realized upon waking that this lack of a single moment of fearlessness might actually be the best angle to approach the topic of fear (or a lack of it) for me anyway. About how it is so present in my life and so hard every day; about how even the smallest victories of fearlessness deserve a mention.

It’s important to me that this be a part of the #BeFearless movement, because sometimes, other people belittle our accomplishments, and that kind of negativity has to stop. It might be a really big deal for someone to just… wake up, and that should be commended properly.

So here it is: a list of my fearless moments — some big, some small — but all equally important. The most crucial aspect of publishing this list of mine, however, is that I want anyone who reads this to feel just how much your fearless moments matter, even if someone has tried to tell you otherwise. All of the moments you overcome fear are victories, and damn the cynics who belittle ALL of our accomplishments!

– – –

1. I had to choose to live again after losing the first man I loved to a horrible addiction, the man who had already asked my mother if I could one day be his wife. I had my struggles along the way, but I did finish college and started grad school. I did find another love. I did find my happiness and my faith again.

2. I overcame crippling PTSS and the accompanying violent panic attacks. It was hard. I had to fight for my life through therapy, through HELPFUL medicine, through many nights of anxiety and non-sleep. I had to fight against people who told me I was crazy, against people who don’t believe in mental illness, against my own brain’s disruptive and destructive behavior.

3. I had to learn to let go of two mentally abusive relationships in college. I loved the men in them with me so much that I was blind to the fact they were putting me down constantly, making me feel like I was not worthy, and trying to make me feel trapped by pushing away then pulling me right back. I finally realized I wasn’t a fish on a line, and it took a lot of work to let go of people I still had feelings for. The most fearless thing, I think, was letting them back in my life as friends, and I now cherish them both in that role.

4. One of the above scenarios involved me having to make the choice of whether or not I would go through with a pregnancy or not. This is something I have never publicly mentioned, and there are even some people in my family or friends of mine who may or may not know about this event, but in the spirit of this project, I need people to hear it. Since I obviously do not have a child, we all know the path I chose to take. I know it is a divisive topic, but it is a topic others may need support with right now, and that trumps everything else. I am being fearless in this moment of confession alone because what I have to say could save someone else’s life.

I need people to know that it was a horrific thing to go through, especially because I went through it without my partner at the time (another instance of mental abuse on his part). I need people to know that some of my friends were so judgmental that I had to lie to them about what really happened, further deepening my self-loathing. I need people to know that I had postpartum depression, a time my mother says she has NEVER feared more for me, despite all the deep places I’d already struggled through. I need people to know how important support was for me and could be for you. I need people to know I came out the other end realizing I had done the right thing for both of us. I need people to know it is something I will never regret. I need people to know that if you don’t agree with this or me or others who go through the same struggle that we can all still love each other; we can all still live in harmony even if our beliefs don’t align.

5. After ALL of that hurt and pain, I found the courage to love again. It’s cliche as hell, but now I’m in love with my best friend of three years, and I have never felt more appreciated, loved, or healthy.

6. I went, by myself, to a HUGE city I longed to live in and work in for the long haul. It was scary, but I had to do it. I also then made the decision to come back because I needed more time to find myself, to say goodbye, to find love, to spend time with my loved ones. I don’t know which is more fearless, but I know it took a lot of bravery to do both.

7. I finally admitted to myself that many of my health issues probably stemmed from being overweight. Now, if you know me, you probably are thinking “YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN OVERWEIGHT!”, and I would agree 100%. But my genetic frame is much smaller than what I had allowed myself to carry for so many years, so I worked my ass off to lose the weight I needed to to feel healthy. This has brought along a LOT of comments from others such as “Eat a cookie,” “You must be on Adderall,” “You’re too skinny,” each more creative and hurtful than the last. What they don’t understand is that now my heart, digestive, back, and mental health issues are ALL almost completely under control because my frame genetically needs less weight in order to function at its best. I am still learning to be fearless in the face of these comments, but it gets easier every day.

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8. I left a job I loved to start a career I was unsure I could handle. It was horrifying, and I woke up crying many days, but I have found so much happiness and reward in being a high school educator. I have had to be courageous in the face of students, other faculty, administration, parents, and even outsiders who have commented about my style of teaching or my salary. Still, I fought through to find a home in a career I may not have forever, but a career I will always love.

9. I overcame the tremendous mental block I had to go talk to my psychiatrist about my depression returning. I had to suck it up and say “I cannot do this without your help, or I will die.” It took so much effort and the process is still occurring, but without the fearlessness it took to overcome my pride and my illness, I would not be half the person I am writing this today.

– – –

I feel like there are so many other fearless things I could write about, like standing up at the karaoke bar and singing in public for the first time or finally choosing to sleep with someone again for the first time in two years after my heart was broken. I could mention the times I worked through my POTS attacks alone or underwent two horrifying surgeries in one week. I could talk about so much, because so much of what I do… of what we ALL do, every day, is from a place of fearlessness.

Never let someone tell you you aren’t brave enough. You are. You are.

#BeFearless

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5 comments

  1. Wow, Rachel. wow. There are so many thoughts running through my head that I don’t even know where to begin. I still remember when Jeff died. I was in BodyFit in Eden and I heard some people talking about it. My heart broke for you. That is when I really started to try and get to know you more through our mutual friends and then MySpace/Facebook and all of that. I am so proud at you pushed on. You ended up going to college, getting a full degree, started blogging, and really, really thriving a life. You have had a lot of challenges with ups and downs, and I am shocked at how similar some of our stories are (I need to email you more in depth about that). You have gone through so much more than any women deserves too, especially at our age, and I am in awe of how vigilant and successful you are.

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