I was born an extremely fearless person.
Ok, well I am not really what you would call a “risk-taker.” I am naturally quite cautious. My mom would say she never had to worry about me because when I was very little I would stop my tricycle 4 feet from the edge of our two-story deck. It was instinct for me to stop way before I got close to the danger. I’ve always been extra careful. That said, I have never ever lived in fear.
Fear of making the wrong choices, fear of the unknown, fear of mistakes, fear of death or heartbreak…. I have never let these scary possibilities creep into my thoughts. When I was in my early 20s I didn’t like NYC so I moved to Los Angeles. Without ever visiting first. I got in my Honda and drove across the country after renting an apartment online. I just got in the car and drove because what was there to be scared of? That I wouldn’t like California either? That I would have to move again in a year when my lease was up? I have always believed that permanence is an illusion. Except for tattoos and children, you can always make a different decision down the line.
My ex and I took our honeymoon in Negril and when we first arrived, other hotel guests welcomed us by explaining that the very first thing you have to do is jump. Off a cliff. “It’s the best way to wake up in the morning, you’ll see.” And we did. We jumped and then we couldn’t stop jumping. That leap of faith has always been a part of who I am.
Until I was diagnosed with MS. For the first time in my life I felt a truly oppressive, suffocating fear of the abyss; the unforgiving unknown. Fear of losing my ability to walk or feel or see. Fear of being a burden. Fear of not having the right health care or enough money for the best treatment. Fear of never meeting a partner who will help me when I am just too tired. Fear of losing friends because I can’t do as much and I forget important stuff.
All at once, I went from being afraid of almost nothing to fear of absolutely everything.
So today, I am going to choose to remember the other version of myself. The girl before multiple sclerosis. I am going to retrace my steps and find that wonderful feeling again, of being totally unafraid and ready to step forward into whatever the present is offering.
Thank you MS, for always reminding me what direction to take. Forward; off the cliff. A fearless leap of faith that in the end, it’s all going to end up exactly the way it was supposed to be anyway… good or bad. Might as well enjoy the jump.