I did a crazy thing.
Even as I sit at home, a week into my seven-week healing journey, I’m still shook by my own audacity.
But I gotta be honest; it feels good — real good.
Empowering in a way that reminds me of who I used to be.
When I was younger, I did wild things — spontaneously reckless and bold things that often shocked my family and friends but became part of my personality.
When I told my two best friends what I was doing, “Girl, you’re crazy,” with an accompanying facepalm emoji was their response because this was par for the course.
My sisters’ reactions were mixed. One was like, “Carpe diem” and the other was, “You’re going to come back without a kidney” but both knew, there was no changing my mind once I’d made a decision.
One hundred percent, more than half of my life choices would look terrible — no, disastrous — on paper.
And yet, those choices have filled my life with a tapestry of wild, unique colors that shimmer in the light, dazzling those with eyes to see.
I’ve always lived on the knife’s edge of fame and ruin, balancing on that sharp surface, teetering on bloody feet only to dance further, risking everything for that sweet victory. My ambition has driven me harder than anything else in my life, and I’ve come to crave the brutal kick and shove of its touch.
This surgery reminded me that I am a force of nature that circumstance and life had tried to muffle and suffocate. I was tricked into believing I was somehow less than, a muted version of myself that neither offended nor dazzled — a timid shadow of my true self.
This surgery ripped away the webbing anchoring me to that false version of myself.
And I literally felt it happen.
It was a day after the surgery. I couldn’t stop sobbing. All I could verbalize was that I didn’t feel like me anymore. I was empty. Numb. Afraid.
It took a few days of rest to realize what had really happened.
It’s as if chains had dropped from my wrists and ankles. The sudden loss of those anchors left me unmoored but free.
I see myself emerging from a cocoon, not a beautiful, fragile butterfly with tender gossamer wings, but a gloriously savage dragon, glittering with iridescence, decorated with battle scars and gifted with wisdom earned through blood, sweat, and tears.
In my last column, I wrote, “Courage, Willow” because I knew with this one decision, I would sink or swim. Big, life-changing decisions require the courage to see them through even when you’re afraid.
But on the other side of that fear, is new life, opportunity, and joy.
So, here I am. No longer afraid. Ready to breathe fire on any obstacle with the audacity to stand in my way.
I am still healing — inside and out — but I can see clearly now.
And the future is bright.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.