I spent two weeks this August rafting down the Colorado River, running more than 200 rapids, hiking side canyons every day, and sleeping on the river bank under the stars at night. I am not afraid of churning water or rattlesnakes, but on this trip, I did have to deal with my fear of heights. Some of our hikes took me up onto narrow little ledges high above slot canyons, heights that absolutely terrified me. One thing I learned on the trip was to accept the help of the people around me and also to accept my fear, to allow myself to be afraid and just keep moving along a ledge anyhow.
Yesterday morning, I did something even more frightening. Scarier than hiking narrow trails high above a desert, scarier than rafting through twelve-foot waves in a rapid, scarier than the risk of getting caught in a flash flood in a side canyon. It was more terrifying than speaking into a microphone to hundreds of people or going on a radio show or helping someone die or going to see a specialist to see whether or not I had breast cancer. More difficult than hiking up mountains or giving birth.
For first time in eleven years, I talked to my brother alone, just the two of us. My brother is a year younger than me, and he did not speak to me for eight years. Since the death of his wife, I have seen him in group settings but we have not had any meaningful conversation.
Yesterday, I told him my feelings. I said them aloud. I told him that I felt angry, hurt, betrayed, and sad. I told him that more than anything, I felt rejected by the one person whom I thought knew me better than anyone else. I sat at a wooden table at a restaurant, looked across the table at my brother, and told him how I felt.
It was the most difficult thing I have ever done.