Every week people ask me why I do some of the things I do. Why do I run? Why do I travel abroad by myself and without knowing anyone? Why learn to sing?
Today seems like a good day to explain why.
It’s only in the last three years that I realized life is meant to be lived. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t as if I wasn’t living, but I was only existing. Going to work, coming home and shutting myself in. I did that for almost five years. If not for my writing, I probably would have gone insane.
You see, five years ago I was traumatized as that’s the only way to describe it, by a man who stalked me. No, he never physically hurt me, but did touch me, hacked my home network, would just appear places where I was, would send me gifts and cards. It became so bad that friends parked cars in my yard as a deterrent to him showing up where I lived. I filed complaints with the police and that didn’t stop him. When he tried to buy the house across the street from me TWICE (sight unseen), I finally went to court and got a restraining order.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to face someone like that in a courtroom? Everyone assumed he wouldn’t show, but here’s the thing about stalkers, it’s all about being near the person of their obsession. And it’s downright frightening to the person being stalked. When I pulled into the courthouse I saw him walking into the building. With my heart beating faster than a jackhammer, I turned tail to run. If not for the stubborn set of my ex-husband’s mind and words I wouldn’t have gone back. But I did.
For three years I was afraid to leave my house, afraid of any man who sat next to me, of any man who had a moustache, deathly afraid of going to a movie, afraid of my own shadow. I was just existing. I finally woke up one day and realized, this was my life and that no one had the right to make me a prisoner in my own mind.
The first thing I did was learn how to shoot a weapon, to protect myself. I refused to get alarms on my home. Why? Because quite honestly, alarms are too late. By the time the alarm goes off the person is in your home. What do you do then?
After that, I started living again. Oh, it’s taken me a long time and I’ve changed my phone number several times since it all started, but in the last two and a half years I realized life was precious and too damn short. I’ve now conquered my fear (mostly) and I have started living. For five years I never went to the movies. This year I have gone twice. Yea me!
I’ve traveled to Ireland twice by myself and without knowing a soul. I’ve taken up running and traveling to places for various races. I’ve taken voice lessons. I go out to eat and don’t go into a panic attack if a stranger with a moustache sits next to me. Okay, I might slide a little to the other side, but I don’t bolt and I don’t breakout in hives. Yup, that was me.
This year, I am chasing a dream of running the Marine Corps marathon.
Why am I telling you all this? Why am I telling you today?
Today I lost a friend, a woman who made dreams come true for a lot of writers and for me in particular. She wasn’t old, hadn’t lived to a ripe old age. She fought a good fight against a killer disease. A disease that takes too many people, a disease that isn’t discriminating in its attack, but chooses at random to inflict pain and death.
Today I reflect on what life has to offer and how my friend not only chased her own dreams and lived her life, but she gave others their dream and in truth probably helped me get my life back.
If you get nothing more from this post, remember that life is precious and that it is too brief, so make the most of it and live it. If there is something on your bucket list, don’t wait. Go out and check off that bucket list while you still can. You were put on this earth not to just exist and work, but to live. Live your life to the fullest. I intend to!