THROUGHOUT my life, I’ve been known to be pretty reckless at times.
I‘m a ‘jump in, head first’ kind of woman. I’m a leaper. I’m a ‘go for it’ shouter.
When I was much younger I was attracted to danger.
To excitement. And of course, to the bad boys.
And as a result of this, many of my teenage years were challenging and by all accounts pretty damn awful.
Because that’s the thing, when you’re a bit reckless and adventurous. Often your little adventures don’t quite work out as you planned.
Mishaps turn into major mistakes.
And slip ups become major life lessons.
I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember and I’d always just presumed that this was ‘who I am’. As part of me, as the hairs on my head.
But now I’ve got older, I’m not so sure about that.
Because a few weeks ago I had a moment of clarity about my behaviour that was quite profound, really. And it made me realise that the way I am, maybe isn’t just down to my characteristics or written in the stars after all.
When I was seven years old, on my Holy Communion Day (a Catholic thing) my Mum found out that she had cancer. Thyroid cancer.
And soon she was in hospital for treatment.
I don’t remember much from this time, just mere snippets of memories.
I remember playing with toys in the hospital. I remember a nurse giving me a real nurse’s paper hat (this was back in the day when they used to wear them).
I remember my mum coming home, exhausted and with a row of unmissable black criss-cross stitches across her neck.
Life returned to normal for a while.
But then it came back. The cancer returned.
My Mum went to Christie’s Hospital in Manchester for two weeks and had to have radiation treatment. My only memory, waving to her through a tiny window in her door because that was the nearest I could get to her.
And it’s funny you know, because I never really thought much about it at the time, bar that my Mum was poorly.
But these things, stay with you. They impact you.
And ultimately, I guess, they change you. Whether you realise it or not.
Thankfully my mum has been well since. The doctors worked their miracles and she is still here, and *touches wood* fighting fit.
But the cancer didn’t just leave a scar on my mum, it also left a scar on all of us. And on me.
Because it left me aware of the vulnerability of life.
That I could be taken away from my loved ones in a heartbeat. Or even worse, that they could be taken away from me.
And it is why, I have a fear about people not knowing how much I love them.
It is why I hate nine to five jobs and routine.
It is why I cannot bear to go to sleep on an argument.
It is why I insist on kissing Elsie and telling her I love her, before she leaves me to go anywhere.
It is why I’ve never played ‘dating games’ with men.
It is why I have forgiven people too many times.
It is why I tell people that I love them, sometimes too soon and sometimes too often.
It is why I’m passionate about making my life as exciting and as meaningful as it can be.
And it’s why, given any choice, I would always rather ‘jump in’ head first to something and give things a shot.
Because I cannot bear it you see.
The thought of missing out. The thought of not living a full life. The thought of not experiencing great love.
Regrets. Wishful thinking. The what ‘ifs’.
Sure I’ve made umpteen huge mistakes and sure I’ve experienced pain, when perhaps I needn’t have.
But realising how fragile life is, of how fragile love is, has without doubt made me more appreciative. And fearless. And vulnerable.
And yes, probably a little bonkers too.
But if living for today, taking risks and loving people too much, makes life tricker and more difficult, than so be it.
Because life is not about order nor is it safe.
There are no guarantees, no easy routes, no way to escape pain.
Sure we can try to ignore the bumps in the road, but make no mistake, we will still feel them.
Life is messy. Life is full of mistakes and mishaps.
And there really is only one way to live it.
You have to learn to jump with both feet.