This is a writing prompt I received from writer Jacob Norby yesterday morning. I should have known better than to ask him for a prompt. What was I thinking?
But here is the thing. Fear has ruled my world since I can remember. I barely remember what I ate yesterday but I recall vividly laying on a cold, hard floor with my favorite silky blanket in kindergarten, trying to take a nap because that's what the teacher said to do. I hated that cold floor and I feared I would freeze to death. How is it that some memories are burned into our brains like that? A mystery to me.
F E A R
What am I afraid of? It's not what you might think. I am not afraid of dying. I know this because once I traveled on a plane and, while landing, the wheels would not come down. I had just spent a beautiful weekend with my best friend, eating bologna sandwiches and talking up a blue storm. The short trip from Cordova to Anchorage was a part of Alaska I had never seen before and I was the happiest I had ever been. I felt zero fear and in a matter of minutes came to terms with the fact that I might die that day. I believed it then and I believe it now that dying on a good day would be the best way to go.
No, I'm not afraid to die.
I'm truly afraid that if you know who I really am or what I really think, you won't like me. I have opinions. I have a past that I am not particularly proud of. I've made mistakes. Huge mistakes, most of which I have made amends for.
The past no longer haunts me. I have regrets from my past, things I would do differently if I had it to do all over again. Don't we all?
At the bottom of it, what I'm really afraid of is the remaining character flaws that flare up from time to time. I swear, my defects are protected by a steel trap in my mind so as to never be totally eradicated. The good news is that today I'm aware of them and I watch for red flags indicating they are popping up.
Today, it has been thirteen years since I've had a drink. On November 6, 2001, my dad and I were in Tombstone, Arizona celebrating the marriage of my very good friend from Alaska. I had no idea it would be the last time I drank. The night before her wedding, we cracked open the champagne and made a toast. Why I didn't drink more than I did remains a mystery to me today. I only know that my life had gone to hell in a hand basket and I was tired. I have a picture of us on that day and it is classic Susan. I always look good on the outside but I can be dying on the inside and you'll never know it.
I'm fine will be my famous last words.
I don't talk much about my life before I got sober unless it will serve some purpose to help another. It's a sad story of my own making and I choose carefully who I'll share it with. Afraid? You bet I am. I'd rather talk about my life now.
Bottom line: I am less afraid of changing than staying the same. My life has been nothing but better since I put down the drink. Of course, there is more to it than just that but it was the first step in the right direction. Who knew?
So, to my very good friend celebrating her 13th wedding anniversary, I raise my coffee cup to you! It was one of the best days of my life and I've had many best days from that one until now.