What are you afraid of?


This time of year is always busy for my family.  My wife Tonia has been working tremendously long hours, the kid’s school and sports activities have picked-up and I have been very busy selling real estate (not the norm for the month of December).  Being busy is a blessing and a curse.  I feel blessed to have all the things in my life that make me busy.  The down side is that my “handicaps” become more prevalent when I am worn down.  The question I am always asking myself is, “Am I pushing myself to hard?”  I always think it’s a strange thought coming from a person who has done nothing but push himself, sometimes to an extreme level, for the past 3 years.  The truth is, whether it be physical or mental, I am always calculating what I think I can handle.

To some degree I have an advantage.  My tolerance for the “uncomfortable” is pretty high.  Physical pain doesn’t scare me.  I have lived through enough to know that what doesn’t kill you, WILL make you stronger.  Embarrassment doesn’t really bother me either.  I had nurses and nurse-aides who had to take care of me like I was a one year old child.  When you need the kind of help I needed, all modesty is thrown out the window.  The one area I struggle with is fear.  I do not fear death.  I feel like I have lived on borrowed time for the past three years.  For a long time though, I was afraid that I would never get better.  I felt my quality of life would not improve.  I feared my “new normal” would not be good enough for me and my family.

Fear is not always a bad thing.  It pushed me through rehab and it got me off narcotics.  I was really afraid of being a drug addict the rest of my life.  That fear lead me to alternative forms of pain management.  Managing my pain lead me to the gym and the gym greatly improved my quality of life.  Simply addressing the thing that made me the most uncomfortable at that time opened up this whole new world of books, magazines and blogs and gave my recovery more meaning.

This week Tonia pushed her comfort level.  She saw someone who she knew going through a very hard time in their life and she did something about it.  She and her brother run their family jewelry store.  Her own life is crazy this time of year.  She could have chosen to not get involved and hoped that someone else would help.  But she knows what it is like to have your life turned upside down and to no longer have time to think, only to “do”.  It was still an uncomfortable decision.  What if she was misreading the need?  What if her help wasn’t warmly received?  These were the questions she battled to answer.  In the end, I think she realized that 3 years ago she was at a place where without the help of others, she would not have survived.  Her heart was in the right place and no matter what the outcome, she would regret doing nothing.  Turned out she was correct.  With the help of her employees, she is giving the family hope and the stability they need so that they can weather their difficulties. I know she believes that she is only giving back what so many had given us in our time of need, but isn’t this the true meaning of Christmas?

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2 Responses to What are you afraid of?

  1. Dana Carl says:

    That was an awesome story John. I can relate to some of it. I totally agree with your outlook on the Christmas end of your story. Thank you for sharing your story John. God bless you and your family this holiday season and throughout the entire New Year. Lots of love!!

  2. becky ulsh says:

    Nice job, first born! You’re on your way, helping yourself and so many others. Love,Mom

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