Afraid To Be Happy
Author: Linda Ambard
When Phil was killed, I cried a lot. I couldn't keep it together. Prior to that, I hadn't cried in 42 years. Thus, to be crying on airplanes, while running, and to wake up weeping was a discombobulating feeling. I had no control of my life and only be morphing into a numb waking state was I able to survive the implosion of my life. As time lapsed, I have found myself doing things I never thought I could do, but it wasn't until recently I recognized that while I was busy, crazy busy, I had lost the joy of day to day life. I no longer looked forward to anything and I approached life as a series of challenges to do or to overcome. I drew walls around my heart and figured my days would be spent working, running, going to school, and, well...just surviving.
It wasn't that I didn't have friends; I did. Many people supported me and still support me, but there was a layer that divided us. I simply couldn't allow myself to let loose, look ahead, and to be excited about life. I felt like a spectator of my life at times because I simply couldn't get off of the bench to join the game. I wanted to jump in, but I was afraid at losing something--anything--more.
Somewhere during fall I realized life was passing me by. I don't want to have eight school degrees, hide in my house, or to live lonely. I have avoided Christmas because Phil was due home on Christmas Eve. Yet, by choosing to avoid the pain, I also avoided the new precious memories and fun my family might have. I chose to celebrate Christmas this year. My favorite memory was coming back into the house and hearing my children exchanging deployment stories, ribbing one another, and telling stories about their dad. Nobody was feeling bad. Nobody was making their dad a saint. My children were just enjoying being a family again. I nearly missed it because I was afraid to believe I could be happy and enjoy my life again.
With the steps forward have come some mighty big falls. It was a terrible moment after Christmas. I came home to a cold and empty house. No laughter, no loud jodies being sung, no baby slobbers, and no hugs. In that terrible moment, though, I realized exactly what my life would look like if I didn't keep trying to take steps forward. A step forward is still a step forward even if it is hard fought for. Just as much as I love my job, travel, and running, I want a full life filled with laughter and love. I may take some mighty hard falls, but I will get up and dust off my skinned knees and move forward one small step at a time into a life that is fully lived.