Afraid Of Being Happy?

When Phil was killed, I cried a lot. I couldn’t keep it together. 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 by 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 that 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 that 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 that 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 this fall I realized that life was passing me by.  I don’t want to have eight degrees, hide in my house, or to live lonely.  I have avoided Christmas because Phil was due home on Christmas Eve, but 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 Jody’s 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.


2016 The Year of Getting Off of My Couch


For those of you that have followed my journey, you realize that I am closing in on being five years from the loss of the man that meant the world to me. I would gladly have given my life for his because I recognize that he was that bright and shining star that made the world a better place, but trading places was never an option. For those of you that have watched or read about my journey, you have seen my struggles and you have seen my growth. Some where in the past year, I began to recognize that it had been years since I was excited about anything and it had been years since I had fun in my life. I was surviving by keeping consumed with work, school, and running. The business gave me focus, but it did not allow for fun or joy to be a part of my life. 2016 is my year of getting off of the couch.


Getting off of the couch isn’t about exercise; it is about living life. School is finished. My initial reaction is to immediately continue on, but I want more than a life of sitting on my couch watching everybody else live life. I am afraid to put down the books and to start living because somehow it is easier to accept that I had a life and now I do not….and yet, my heart is fighting for more. I am fighting for more.


I am fighting by going after my dreams. I signed up for my 100th marathon at the Great Wall of China and a hiking expedition to Machu Picchu. To get to China, I am facing my fears of traveling somewhere new by myself. Because I know that I cower and shut down when I am afraid, I signed up with a tour agency. I am not letting fear stop me from living this year. Marathon 99? The Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is the singular place other than places affiliated with Phil’s death that terrifies me. I still have flash backs of that awful day when I ran for my life. I am staring down my fears to live.


It is about more than running. It is taking a good hard look at being vulnerable enough to let someone in. I think widows often tend to put too much validity into a relationship too fast or they do what I do—shut off before anyone gets too close. It is easier to shut off, but lonelier. I don’t know if there is a chapter two in my life, but I do believe it is possible. It will look different, feel different, be different, but it will be just as amazing. It is terrifying on many fronts because I still feel like that girl—that girl who is somehow broken or somehow set apart because of my story of loss. The hardest part is risking my heart and yet I am not running away or slamming doors. What will be, will be.


2016 is about living, loving, laughing, and participating.   Instead of hiding in the shadows, I am taking the tentative steps to cannonball into a life that is more than my focus and voice for military causes. Yes, those are a part of me and will always be a part of me, but the part that has been buried far beneath the frozen snowy field is starting to emerge. There is room for both—focus and fun. 2016, the year of getting off of the couch to live—Whose in?