By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.
A few days ago I took the risk of being honest with myself. I sat down and wrote about everything that hurts right now: all the pain that follows me around, all the unfinished business and emotional uncertainty that causes my heart to shrink into a tiny, hard ball. My heart is a peach pit these days.
I wrote it all down, and I vowed to tell it to at least one person. I decided not to publish it here. As much as I trust my fellow bloggers, I don’t want the whole world to have access to my soft spots. But I know that I’ll only release the pain when I share it, so I promised myself that I wouldn’t keep that piece of writing to myself.
Then I decided to make a Risk List. In spite of all the stress and pain in my life right now, I realized that I have taken a number of risks just in the last month. I deserve credit. A badge of courage would be nice, if the Wizard of Oz is still handing them out.
I worked closely with my sister to move my mother from independent to assisted living, and I gave my mom physical and emotional support on a daily basis. I faced up to the changes in her cognition. I committed myself to a new way of life, with her well-being as a top priority.
I planned and carried out a long-weekend trip with my daughter to see a musician she admires perform in Philadelphia. I decided it was essential for her to know that her mother is here for her, even when Grandma’s needs are great. I trusted my sister and my husband to care for my mom while I was gone (and they did, beautifully). I trusted the airlines, and the rail lines, and the kindness of strangers to see us safely there and back again. I trusted that my daughter’s life would be enhanced by the trip, and that it was worth it to go out on a limb, even at a stressful time.
I maintained a commitment to travel to Haiti in early December with others from my church. I attended meetings, got my shots, and asked my doctor for prescriptions for malaria and cholera. I still don’t know if we’re going; we are meeting next week to discuss safety issues. As of now, I’m still in the group. I don’t let myself think about it all that often, and when I do think about it I get scared. I am stepping into completely new territory. (For the record, if I come to believe I’m risking my life, I’ll stay home. I have too much to live for here.)
Those are the risks I’ve taken. I’ve also begun a list of risks I want to take. I’ll mention just one of them: I want to risk stepping out of my religious tradition and visiting a Buddhist meditation center. I need help staying grounded and peaceful. It feels like a risk to seek help in this way — not through the church, or yoga, or therapy, or coaching, but through a spiritual tradition I know almost nothing about. I wonder if I’ll dare.
Maybe my current heartache is leading me naturally to a tradition that acknowledges suffering as one of life’s basic truths. Time will tell.
This post originally appeared on RiskADay.com.