Like many, I remember where I was and what I was doing when Princess Di died on August 31, 1997. I remember lying on my bed in shock and hoping by chance she would survive. The first thing I thought about was her two young boys, Princes William (15) and Harry (12). I was devastated for those boys. I mourned their loss because I could relate to it. I recall talking to my sister years after it happened and told her how my heart went out to them and she retorted, “I don’t feel bad for them. They were not in the same position we were when we lost our mom. Our lives are not the same — their rich!” I unsuccessfully explained that money would not protect them from the grief.
Lonely wouldn’t leave me alone
My life is a far cry from the life I lived in my childhood and young adulthood. Instead of struggling for food, love or safety, my struggle is on a grander scale. I am a person who measures my progress in my weakest and most challenging moments (not my strongest). While I am far from being rich, my struggle is this: Do I take a chance and live out my purpose risking losing my home, the kid’s college and even my relationship, or do I stay safe in the mediocrity of a career that gives me the best logical chance of not rocking the boat? Although it is a far cry from being rich, it is a struggle on a much higher level—both spiritually and financially. (I am grateful for my progress.)
I felt myself falling apart for a long time but because I was a broken person who could function even under the worst conditions, my cry fell on deaf ears. My loved ones, my close friends and even myself were my worst critics:
- I along with many of my close friends thought, “You have a great husband, smart children and a great career. Why complain?” REJECTION
- Many saw my energy, my smile, my smarts and my cutesy as someone who had it down pat. As a matter fact, when I was on a dance team in college, my initiation name was “Ms. Got it Down Pat.” No matter how much I said that my courage was mistaken for having it together, most laughed it off. REJECTION
- After I hit a low and reached out to a childhood role model, she took advantage of my broken spirit and crushed me. REJECTION
I concluded that my loneliness was because I missed my mother and I just had to learn to live with it. After all, I had determined that I was here to serve and I knew enough about life to know not every day would be happy. Loneliness took up only a small part of my heart, but it sure was quite heavy!
Understanding healed my loneliness
I’ve known for a long time that my life three years prior to my mom’s death up until the remainder of my childhood was not normal. Since my mom’s death, I tried to be the best person I could be. This practice grew to a goal to achieve excellence but not without stops of perfectionism along the way. Because I knew that I was at risk for the most horrific life, I believed in therapy. Unfortunately, therapists either saw me as resilient and not needing help or they did not take the time to understand what I was saying. To their defense, I could not explain what I was going through and they in turn did not know how to help me.
Finally in my late 30s and early 40s, I started finding the right help but not without the turmoil called life. On top of that, God was pressuring me to live my purpose and was no longer gentle with me. I knew for me to do this I would have to deal with my baggage called “being human” all along the way. I call my therapist my life coach and spiritual leader. I am happy to have the insight to know that even leaders need a leader, a confidant, a guide.
I remember when one of my sessions seemed to have gone horribly wrong. It was the worst experience I had in a long time. I was ready to walk away and never come back but my companion courage is what got me to my next appointment. I did not know what my therapist thought because she was quiet during most of the prior session and just soaked in the disaster as it happened. In my mind, everyone involved left that session a bit bruised, dazed and for me humiliated to boot.
When I walked in that next session, the first thing we did after our prayer was talk about what happened. She looked at me in awe and said, “I understand.” (I can remember the moment so vividly that it brings up all kinds of emotions as I write this.) She told me she was amazed with how I handled myself and the situation in the last session. She went on to say that she felt that she needed to be still and let the session play out without intervening too early. I am not sure I appreciated it in the moment it played out but boy did I appreciate it at that moment. Lonely finally left me alone.
What understanding did for me
I never expected to feel a burden lift so quickly in one moment. When she said, “I understand …,” immediately the lonely pangs tugging at the corner of my heart lifted. On top of that, I felt like a little kid getting a sticker when she looked at me with awe on how I instinctively handled a tough situation. Here before me was a woman who while she’s in session is the most confident, calm and insightful human being I know. I felt validated and appreciated.
While I think that I’ll always be a fidgety soul who lives with this intense desire to live every moment on purpose for a purpose, that moment did so much for me!
- It strengthened my faith in God.
- It started me on a path of healing some big hurts.
- It gave my courage a boost.
- It gave me what I needed to take the chances I need to in order to live my life on purpose.
- It lifted that underlying sadness and gave joy some more room.
You may not have words for what you are going through
Sometimes we do not know how to articulate what is bothering us. Most of the time, we do not even realize how our day-to-day lives are impacted by the pain that is buried under so many other things (both good and bad).
As you go to live your life with intention, know that you will probably feel insecurities that you did not think you had.
You may feel:
- Anxious about the smallest things
- Disoriented because you are embarking on unchartered territory
- The urge to abandon your journey
While you may feel all those things, hang in there. You are just where you need to be.
Get lifetime help
It is true that our ultimate trust must be in God. Just remember that God puts people in our lives for a reason. Whether it is your pastor, a therapist, a life coach or a mentor, find a guide. Even leaders need guidance. The best gift I gave myself was one hour for me to recalibrate in someone who roots for me in a way that refills my courage and renews my faith.
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