This week has been a bit of a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. Today, though, is a great day to take a break from the confusion and focus on the positive. That’s because today is an anniversary of sorts. It was during this week four years ago that I made an abrupt and unplanned exit from a treacherous relationship. It was the best possible choice I could’ve made for myself, but it also propelled me into a place of upheaval.
Change usually comes so slowly that you don’t notice it. You turn around one day, and nothing behind you looks as you remember it. Sometimes, though, change is a hurricane that blows violently forth from troubled waters and pummels you before you can prepare. There is a distinct line left in the sand that you are forced to cross, ready or not, and there is no turning back.
On July 8, 2014, I crossed one of those lines. I took the last bit of bullying I could stomach from a man who could never love anyone more than himself, and I walked away. I lived with him, but I wasn’t going back. I woke up that morning with a home, and went to bed that night a vagabond in my grandparents’ basement. Thanks to my grandparents, who have always been there to hold me up when I’ve fallen, I had a place to stay. But I no longer had a home. I was a single mom with two sons to raise; two sons needing stability and a place to feel secure. I had to do something, and I had to do it quickly.
Over the next three days, everything changed. I applied for a mortgage and was approved the same day. Then I made an appointment with a realtor to look at a few houses I had found online. I looked at three houses over those three days, and at the end of the third day I put in an offer. The next morning I received a counter-offer, and went to the realtor’s office around lunchtime on July 12, 2014 to sign the contract. I’m not sure, but I might have set a record for how quickly I went from not even thinking of being a homeowner, to signing a contract on a house. Four days.
I can imagine most people spend months thinking about such a major decision. They examine their finances, list out what they want in a home, then spend weeks–maybe months–looking at houses until they find the one that is right for them. I did that myself when I bought my current home. But I didn’t have time on my side then. What I had was no place to live and two kids counting on me. They were gone to their dad’s for the summer, but I needed them to have a place to come home to when summer ended. I didn’t have time to think, or plan, or even to worry. What I had to do was take a giant leap of faith and hope that it would all work out for the best.
I’m a careful planner. I’m organized. I don’t like chaos or clutter. Taking chances without calculating the risks is not something I’ve ever been good at. Nothing scares me more than the unknown. I need to know what is going to happen before I set out to do something, and tend to proceed with caution when knowing isn’t possible. Life experience is supposed to make us stronger. I’ve been told by countless people that I’m strong. But I’m going to tell you a secret–I’m not strong, I’m afraid.
I found my comfort zone and I hibernate there, because I’m afraid to take chances. My 20’s were filled with chaos, uncertainty, heart break and anxiety. I managed to make it through all of that a well-rounded person with many lessons under my belt. But I’m also afraid of anything that could send me back there. I’m afraid of getting hurt. I’m afraid of things that make me feel anxious. I’m afraid to trust. Sometimes I’m even afraid to keep my faith in God for fear of being blindsided by the one who is supposed to protect me. I don’t want to go back to where I used to be, and because of that I’m afraid to do anything that puts me outside of my comfort zone.
I look back on this day four years ago and I’m still amazed at myself. I suppose I took that leap of faith and made that decision because I was forced to. But I did it. I had no possible way of knowing what would happen or if it was a good decision. But I closed my eyes, swallowed the lump in my throat, and I jumped.
What I need to remember now, is that leap of faith did work out. I jumped headfirst into the unknown, and I can look back now and see that it was that one moment in time, when I decided to sign on that little black line and force myself forward, that set the stage for where my life is now. It was that leap of faith that let me find the comfort zone in which I currently reside. It led me to being able to afford to buy a new home, more carefully planned out, in a new town where I really wanted to be. It was that leap of faith that is responsible for my 30’s being so much better and more stable than my 20’s.
For the first time ever in my adult life, I feel settled and content. And I owe it all to that one leap of faith. So maybe it’s a little silly for me to be so afraid to take another one.