I believe in confronting one’s fears. I say this while at the same time acknowledging that, for most of my 60-plus years, I haven’t followed my own good advice. But who can blame me? As we face the decisions and actions that are the fabric of our daily lives, our fears of one thing or another are constantly with us – fear of success, fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of ridicule, fear of rejection . . . and the list goes on!
My newly-found commitment to confront one’s fears is shaped by a very personal experience. My story begins in 1969 when – feeling alone in the world and paralyzed by fear and confusion – I gave up my baby daughter for adoption. My fears at the time were: How can I raise a child on my own? Will my family and friends reject me? Doesn’t a child deserve both a mother and a father? Where will I turn for help and support? Will I always be labeled as an “unwed mother”? Will my child be accepted? These, and countless other fears and uncertainties, led me to turn my daughter’s care and upbringing over to strangers. But I never stopped thinking about her, and for many years longed to search for her, but my fears always got in the way. Do I have the right to intrude into her life after all this time? Will she hate me, blame me, reject me? Does she even know she was adopted? How will her adoptive mother feel? How will I feel re-visiting the painful events surrounding her birth? This laundry list of fears overwhelmed and paralyzed me, thus relegating my search to the “back burner”. When I finally had the courage to complete a search the first time, and had my daughter’s name and address in my hot, little hand, I once again lost my nerve and did nothing.
Fast forward to 10 years later, in August of 2005, when I once again held my daughter’s contact information in my hand. While I could feel the fear and panic welling up once again, this time it was different, as I faced each and every fear and stared it down. I’d finally come to realize that it is only by confronting our fears that they suddenly lose their power over us. It’s then that we can transform our lives and move forward. Yes, there’s risk involved, and the outcome may sometimes be painful or disappointing. But it also may be joyful, as I learned first-hand, because I met and hugged my 37-year old daughter for the first time in September of 2005. And guess what? She wasn’t angry, bitter, or resentful. She didn’t reject me; and, with a lot of patience, respect, understanding and commitment on both our parts we are building a strong, accepting and loving relationship. In the end, conquering my fears has opened the door to the most joyful experience of my life! So, if fear is holding you back from accomplishing something important in your life, go ahead, take the plunge. Regardless of the outcome, you may be very glad you did!
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