Fear is defined as: "an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat." I've spent most of my life living in fear. People who are close to me know that I've had my share of struggles with depression, addiction, and childhood sexual abuse. On the outside, you saw the class clown, the irreverent extrovert, or manic runner.
What you didn't see was a man who was terrified you would find out his dark secret... that he was unworthy of your respect, kindness, and love. Like many survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I carried a millstone around my neck forged of shame. I was the high school athlete embarrassed to go into the showers, the boyfriend who never let you get too close, the hyper-vigilant new father who never let his young son out of his sight, the husband who never wanted to expose his entire soul.
I'm currently reading a book on vulnerability by Brene Brown, and she includes an except of a speech delivered by US President Theodore Roosevelt, on April 23 1910, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
I've decided that over the next 12 months, I will strive to be that man "in the arena", a man who strives to "know great enthusiasms", ultimately a journey of "daring greatly". Coming to terms with the abuse in my past, has allowed me to dream of a full life again. I've explained the feeling as spending your entire life inside a house only to discover one morning that there is an entire room in your house you never knew existed. The thought of this extra space is indeed daunting, but the prospects are endless!
I welcome you to check in with me throughout the year as I learn to navigate my new life. I will attempt to surround myself with positive people and practice mindfulness and willingness to explore what it means to form authentic connections with those in my life. I'll be sharing insights I encounter through reading, group therapy, and anywhere else I can grasp a roadmap to a better life. Like all things in life, there will be inevitable setbacks, but I promise you'll witness my life changing before your eyes.