About 3 and a half years ago, for the first time in a long time, I poked my head up and wasn’t afraid of my own shadow. Suddenly, there was something greater than the fear. Her name was Hope, and becoming her mom woke me from a deep slumber.
I began hibernating around age 8. I was in 3rd grade and had just been selected to participate in the school’s first “Gifted and Talented” program. I was aware that I had been chosen for this program and that other kids were not. I was also praised for being chosen. I felt special.
Immediately I believed that this status was something precious, something that if I didn’t work hard to keep, I would surely lose. This feeling became the nugget that would sustain my identity. My first anxiety attack occurred that year and the innate childhood sense of wholeness began to give way to the fear driven hoarding of accomplishments that came to define my adult life.
Each day after, the fear, like the threat of an impending snow storm, propelled my need and desire to collect achievements like a squirrel hides away nuts- to protect myself from ever going hungry should someone believe I wasn’t enough. The problem, of course, with always living as if a blizzard is on the way, is that I missed the sunny days altogether, a lot of them. Over time, the fear became less episodic and more constant. What had been occasional childhood panic attacks morphed into a teenage eating disorder. Then the eating disorder transformed into superwoman syndrome. What had been an 8 year old’s fear of failing a test became an adult’s daily fear of failing at life. I was buried alive and hibernating in fear of not measuring up. Even though I’d squirrelled away a law degree, teaching awards, a loving family, a great job, a beautiful home, and countless other objective reasons to be proud of myself, I was starving.
Then the day I became Hope’s mom, I was reborn. I became alive with knowing that the fear would not nourish her. I’m learning the fear doesn’t nourish me through the cold either. Having been asleep so long, there are definitely days I’m tempted to return to that familiar and comfortable den of fear. Yet, seeing how simply perfect she is teaches me how inherently worthy of love I must be too. And that, more than any job, accomplishment, or award, sustains me. Choosing to live means forgoing perfection, but being Hope’s mom has taught me that life is simply too beautiful to live it sleeping through the winter.
Cara is a displaced Texan who is a full time prosecutor for the long arm of the law. It is law and order on the home front too, as she and her police Lieutenant husband proudly parent a bright, sweet little princess sassy pants, 3 year old Hope. When she is not making sweet tea for Hope or teaching her how to properly apply eyeshadow, Cara enjoys quilting, reading mystery novels and playing with Addie and Brandon, her dogs.