Beyond My Fears

Author: Linda Ambard

A borrowed line from a song sums it up well. "People say that I'm amazing, strong beyond my years, but they don't see inside of me. I'm hiding all my fears." I've been afraid of my very first memories - afraid of fire, darkness, getting lost, fitting in, trying new things, you name it. I quake and feel slightly nauseated when I am confronted with new situations, decisions, predicaments and even surprises. I learned long ago, though, that waiting on the sidelines didn't allow me to ever play the game. I am good at being the mute friend and the friend that never takes the risks, but I am learning that nothing ventured is nothing gained.

This year has been about reclaiming my life and facing my fears, especially ones associated to running.  I haven't always said why I am running in certain states, but the last two marathons - the one on the United States Air Force Academy and the one in Seattle, Washington - were so much more than an athletic accomplishment. In fact, the 26.2 miles were the easy part of the journey.

I ran in Colorado Springs because, in the tumultuous, aching days after Phil was killed, I couldn't deal with the public nature of confronting my grief and trying to figure things out. I shut down and I ran away. I resorted to what worked for me even as a child. I became quiet and I internalized, facing my hurt alone. Little did I know how many people would notice the full throttle retreat and how many people would carry me for so long, who still carry me some days. It took me three years, but I recognize that Colorado is where I belong. 

Colorado isn't where Phil and I planned to stay, however. We planned to retire to Washington State. We had planned for more than twenty years to one day build our "grow old and die" house there. We had a dream of sitting on a porch outside, watching our grandchildren play. We had a dream of growing old together and having time to travel with one another. Phil's death took all of my dreams and hopes for the future. None of my life looks familiar, feels familiar, or is familiar. Our dreams are no more, and developing aspirations and dreams for my future alone is terrifying and unwelcome, yet necessary for life.

I am finding my footing and making peace with my past. I will never live in Washington because I can't live a shared dream alone. Dare I hope and dream for more? Dare I think of establishing roots and a place where I belong? I do belong in Colorado. The mountains call to me. They are my past, present, and future. I am the sum of many events, not just one. I ran to let go of the pain I carried and to light the torch of hope.

Washington was a little harder. While I have been in Seattle since Phil's death, running is personal for me. I knew that people would know my story. Running in Washington meant letting go of the dream I carried since Phil and I were dating. Even in our dating window, Phil and I wanted the house with the porch, where we could sit, like my grandparents, in comfortable companionship. On Saturday, I made my peace with all that I do not have and I started looking ahead. I started facing down the beast of fear.

The beast of fear only has power if it stops a person from acting or doing. I am still the shy friend that stands by waiting to be picked, but I am going; I am doing. I've recognized there is beauty in stepping out in faith even when a person wants to hide. I am not sure where my steps will lead me, but fear or not, I am going and trusting that somehow, some way, I will know which path to take.