For the last three nights, I have not slept. I’ve been afraid of my life, my thoughts, and what others would think of me if they knew what was going on inside of my brain. I feel guilty typing the words on this keyboard even, I mean, “How can you really be afraid, Sheryl? You don’t have a lion trying to eat you or anything.” Right? Yet, here I am so scared that even my heart skips a beat now and then.
I’ve had to silence my phone because the chirp of the email is too much to handle. I’ve turned the sound off on my computer because the notification ding is too brilliant in my ears. I’m hyper aware of my surroundings at all times. I watched a leaf blow across the driveway yesterday while Toby was pooping illegally in the median in front of my house and I could hear the edge of the leaf skirt across the concrete. [Just don’t tell anyone about the poop, ok? I don’t want it in my yard. It’s fertilizer, right? So actually I’m helping out the City of St. Peters in providing nutrients back into the environment. Shh…]
This is how I know fear has a little pulse on my jugular. It presses just enough to freak me out, but not enough to completely pass me out. Scary right? So what is causing the fear?
In a word? “Change” would be the simple answer, but the logic behind it is so complex.
There are changes I need to make right now which will make me happy eventually, but they will make me very uncomfortable first. FYI: I don’t like discomfort. I’ve suffered a lot at the hands of discomfort in my life so I keep trying to navigate the change, which I know logically needs to happen, but for now, I want to stay right here in my comfy place. My comfy place cradles me like I did with my children and grandchildren; nestled into the crook of my arm, safe from any harm, warm, loved, my comfy place holds me near and dear.
For the last three days, I could not deal with my thoughts and it caused horrible insomnia. Friday I slept 4 hours, which was pretty good! Saturday I slept 3 hours. Sunday I totaled 2.5 hours. Thoughts creep in and take over and I just can’t deal with it so I pour myself into another project and move past it, but wherever you go, there you are, right?
Oh, and I’m so sick of the positive cheerleaders out there saying, “You change your life by changing your heart.” [Thanks for inspiring others, Max Lucado.] Or, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” That Socrates could suck it. I want to run away, that’s what I really want to do.
To be honest, I’ve actually done mini-runaways.
I tell my husband I have to “run a few errands” and he has no idea I just want to run away. I drive to Walgreens and sit in the parking lot. Welp, that didn’t work. I’m too ugly, too frumpy, no make-up, so I can’t get out of the car and walk around in the store. Nope. So I drive to another store and sit. Nope, still can’t get out of the car. I ultimately end up driving to my son’s house to sit and love on my grandchildren for a bit. For a fleeting moment in my week, those few moments of hugs and hellos mean the world to someone fighting a demon inside. [Don’t leave me hanging here. You have driven around aimlessly somewhere, right???]
Ultimately, I head back to the house, take off my shoes, and there we are all over again…thinking about what needs to be done. By definition, I suppose I have a very good life. Married for 25 years to my teenage sweetheart. We have three adult children. I have four amazing grandchildren who I adore. I own my own house and my bills get paid on-time every month. I go on vacation once a year. We both have decent paying jobs. Our health insurance is pretty damn good. We have brand new cars in the garage. My neighbors are even terrific. I’m pathetic, right? I know how this reads in people’s minds. Trust me. Here’s the kicker, though…
…I want more out of my life and by “more” I don’t mean stuff, things, or tangibles. I want more purpose. I want more meaning. I want my life to have mattered. I want good friends – I mean REALLY good friends. I want experiences. I want my heart to be bursting with joy. I want to be truly happy in my core. I want to make a difference somewhere that is meaningful to someone else.
I want more.
I already know the argument, “But Sheryl, you’ve already done great things with your kids and your grandchildren. You mattered to them. You made a difference.” Yep, I know. This is why this makes this even more sticky (or would that be stickier? Damn grammar, I hate you) to discuss. How dare I even consider my life might possibly need a deeper purpose than my children? What about my poor spouse who has to deal with all the cray cray in my head? Feel sorry for that dude because I’m pretty sure he’s a saint. Despite all of this, I’m still here wanting more.
We all have a true north, ya know? We all have a calling. We all have some meaning, some talent, some gift we were given to share with the world otherwise, why am I still on this planet?
Andy Andrews is a motivational speaker and author. I would love to see him in person as I idolize his work, but I sit back respecting him from afar. [The company I work for currently had him speak at a conference and as luck would have it, I had to fly to New York to chair an event there so I missed hearing him speak.]
My colleagues came back from their meeting and said, “Sheryl, you must go watch ‘The Butterfly Effect’ on YouTube by Andy Andrews. This is so your type of message.” So I went, watched, and was in awe. I went on to read most of his books. One, in particular, The Noticer, has been deeply imprinted on me. I can’t shake it.
You see, Andrews believes every single thing you do matters in this world. Every move. Every thought. Everything matters. He said one thing, which changed my world forever, “God has a purpose for every single person. You won’t die until that purpose is fulfilled. If you are still alive, then you haven’t completed what you were put on earth to do. You have yet to make your most important contribution.” Pretty good stuff, eh?
…except now I don’t sleep. LOL. Nah – it’s not his fault, it was his motivation which led me to believe my greatest contribution has yet to come to light.
Thirty-nine years ago today, my mother passed away when I was only five-years-old. She was my first true love in life. I have tried to make sense of this loss my whole life, but Andrews statement suggests my mother’s contribution may have been her children, specifically me. After all, I wasn’t supposed to be here.
My father tells me my life came to be because of my mother, who was a chronic chain smoker; she wanted to have another child. My dad thought they were done as my sister was seven-years-old at the time and they were in their mid-thirties. My mother felt she was supposed to have one more child though and promised she would stop smoking so she could deliver a healthy baby. On April 2, 1971, I came into the world screaming, hollering, and kicking. I was born ready for a fight!
Little did I know at the tender age of six we would lay my mother to rest in St. Charles Memorial Gardens. She would never even see 40 years of age. Today at 45, I still struggle knowing I’ve outlived her. She gave me life and paid the ultimate price, so surely my contribution to the world needs to be more than what I am today? I mean, I’m still here. I’m still searching for my purpose. I still need to honor her gift.
Fear is what drives me these days. Fear of missing out? Absolutely, but not for the way superficial folks describe FOMO today. I’m fearful I will not be able to let go in certain areas of my life to take the leap and be who I was destined to be because I’m in my comfy place. Life is good, so why rock the boat? Fear is a real shit disturber!
My friend, Emily Tisdale, told me recently I must put a date on the calendar. The date is important as it gives you a point on the map to navigate toward. Her advice was not only shrewd in dealing with what is weighing on my heart and evokes a courageous sword-swinging mentality toward all that is plaguing you, but her advice was filled with love as she wants to know there is a date on the calendar where I leave behind all this craziness and finally take the next step toward fulfilling my purpose in life.
Today, I am picking a date. July 7, 2017. My mother’s birthday. It completely freaks me out to type a date. It means my comfy place will be gone and I will be 46 by then charging toward a new life, a new world when society says I should be taking it easy toward living out the second half of my life (I guess that would technically be more like planning for my death, right?) but this time, I’m not following the rules. [I feel fear is pushing on my jugular a bit just typing that paragraph…gah!!]
Deep breathing. In. Out. In. Out.
I hope you’ll follow along with me on my journey. I never tell people I need them, but I need you. I need accountability. I need sistering. (Thank you, Glennon Doyle Melton, for reminding me it’s ok to be sistered.) I needed Glennon to tell me this year it’s ok to need others. So…here I go.
Never give up!