I was made aware early in my journey to prepare for the numerous transitions that I would encounter along the way. Transition is defined as a place between what was and what will be – a widow’s transition is not so easily defined, so easily managed. It is in the quiet moments of each transition that I find much of my answers and the courage to let go of the familiar. I have been able to understand that the vulnerability I have always felt is not weakness but the greatest strength a person can have. You cannot experience life, without feeling life. I learned to celebrate my imperfections – my life with David allowed me the freedom and the opportunity. I would now have to find, navigate my way without him. I have had to redefine what courage means to me.
Vulnerability is the full and most accurate measure of courage.
I remember one of the last trips we made to the island in the year that preceded his death. It was the year immediately following my Mother’s death. We literally decided in the moment to pack a few things and head out – we would decide to extend our weekend trip to include a few extra days. We captured the moments, is what I remember and they are the best of my memories. It will not be the elaborate but the simplistic that remains etched in your heart – forever. They are reminders to me of how important, self-sustaining it is to “live” in the moments of your life. I have survived his death simply because of the life we created together, no unused moments allows you no regrets.
Vulnerability is showing up, being present and willing to be seen without facades or armor, it allows access. It also involves risk – authenticity puts you on the front line where you are subject to ridicule, judgment and responses that can trigger your feelings of shame. But those responses – attitudes derive from their own shame and fear. They are usually the perfectionists in our lives, “if my life looks perfect and I do everything perfectly” I avoid criticism, judgment – shame. My experience is that courage does not come from our strengths, it’s easy to enter the arena fully armed knowing that the odds are definitely in your favor to win. I have found courage in the vulnerable place of uncertainty when I haven’t been assured of the outcome but I have chosen to enter the arena anyway.
Your story should only be shared with those who have earned the right to hear it. Again, I would learn the hard way. Often the relationships that have suffered the greatest injury are amongst family members but I believe that when you decide to operate from a place of authenticity – your immediate response to any lack of empathy – ironically is empathy itself.
There were areas in my life that have required change for some time, those little tune ups – I am redefining courage in those areas as well. Stepping out and taking the risk knowing that there are no guarantees, I am more likely to get my butt kicked [a lot] in the process. But the alternative seems a whole lot higher price to pay – in the end.