When I was a child, a terrible tragedy happened to one of my family members and my family member ended up passing away. The tragedy has haunted me ever since to where I am literally afraid of living my life. I constantly worry about every little thing — whether my kids made it safe to school or not, if my husband got off the plane safely on his business trips, if I have a cold I wonder if I am going to be terminally ill. I guess you can say I am terrified of losing my loved ones because of what happened when I was a child. I have gone to years of therapy to try and deal with this issue but it is still a fear I have inside me.
What’s difficult is that I look around at my other family members that lived through the tragedy just like I did and they are reacting differently to life than I am. While I am afraid to go on vacations, say bye to my kids when they board the bus for school, or to try out a new restaurant, they are doing the complete opposite. They are living their life to the fullest by going on as many vacations as they can possibly fit into one year, meeting tons of new people all of the time while also trying hundreds of new experiences. I have even asked for their advice and they said that the tragedy did that to them — it made them want to live their life to the fullest because their time could be up at any given second with or without notice and so they wanted to take advantage of all that life truly has to offer by making each second in their life count.
I want that life. I want to live my life to the fullest like they do on a daily basis. But how?
How can I stop being afraid and start living my life already? This has been going on for years. I don’t want to be afraid to live anymore, and I also don’t want to wait until it’s too late to start living my life to the fullest. Please help.
— Wanting to Live Life to the Fullest
Dear Wanting to Live Life to the Fullest,
I am truly sorry for the tragedy that you experienced as a child. Often when we experience difficult tragedies as children do we take those memories, that potentially later turn into fears, with us to our adulthood. It sounds like this is exactly what happened in your situation.
There is nothing wrong with worrying about your loved ones. We are all guilty of that, and if you are constantly worried about losing the life you have or losing your loved ones, then that simply means that you have a life worth keeping.
You have already taken the hardest step in a situation like this — you have recognized that you want to stop being afraid and start living your life to the fullest, something you may not have been doing ever since you faced your childhood tragedy. You can do so by starting to take small, baby steps that will allow you to grow out of your old habits.
Let your family and friends know that you want to start living life to the fullest so anytime they are planning a weekend trip, trying out a new restaurant, going on a hike, or even going to the mall, tell them that you want to tag along. This way, you can start taking steps to introduce yourself to new experiences.
Once you start getting used to that, you will slowly begin to develop more confidence inside yourself to try even more experiences such as joining a church group that has a bunch of people you have never met in it, joining a club that shares your interests, or even going to an amusement park to ride the rides, for example.
Trying new things may mean that you are forcing yourself to go out of your comfort zone, but going out of your comfort zone also allows you to grow as a human being. If you are constantly doing the same thing over and over, seeing the same people, visiting the same places in life, how will you ever grow? We all tend to get used to our “bubble” and get very comfortable in our daily routines, our jobs, our homes, and even the people around us, but why not take a chance at trying something new?
Perhaps another way to look at it, is that for all of these years, you have needed this much time to heal from your tragic experience, and now you are at the point where you feel healed enough and ready to take back your life. There is nothing wrong with needing time to heal. Now that you have healed, be bold and brave and start seeing the world, try new experiences and meet as many new people as you possibly can. Make the most out of every day you are blessed with and make each day count.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at www.myaskmikey.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.