Thank you so much for your comments and congratulations on the big news I shared in my last missive! I was – and am – touched.
I’m about to start maternity leave, so I’m scheduling emails to go out to you about every 2 weeks this summer.
I felt the nudge to send this one today, just in case there is someone reading this who is going through something really hard that does not seem to make any sense at all.
If that’s you – honey, I see you. I salute you.
And I want you to know that you’re not alone. I’m right there with you.
In my last post, I shared that this has been an intense season for me and my family. To recap: I’ve just launched a book, recorded an audio book, and worked to heal some major trauma … while pregnant, while supporting our toddler in a leg cast for a broken foot.
That’s enough, right? You’d think that would be enough.
But a few days after I wrote that post, we went to our toddler’s leg cast removal only to get the news that our girl needed a shorter cast on her right foot for another two weeks. (Basically, until my due date.)
There was a lot of screaming at that appointment. Screaming on the outside for her – she howled and clung to me when doctors approached – and screaming on the inside for me.
Do you know this feeling – like you are past the edge of your capacity, and you’re being asked to bear more … and you feel both brittle and furious?
And then just when you think surely you can’t handle more … you need to handle more.
Just a couple of hours after the doctor’s appointment, on the way to my last audio book recording session, I rolled my right foot and – unbelievably – sprained it.
Thankfully it was a mild sprain; I was in a boot for a bit, but I’m fast regaining the ability to walk normally.
Still, it seemed like an excess of unfortunate events.
(Me and our little one in “matching” boots.)
I emailed my coach:
“The question I’m grappling with: What meaning do I make of this series of events? WTF is going on? Why is this happening? I don’t understand it yet. I just feel scared.
And maybe trying to figure out what it means is not helpful. Maybe I just keep surviving for now and hope that meaning will come later?”
My coach pointed out that the very fact that I was seeking some sort of meaning – rather than just defaulting to the old story that I was bad and doomed – represented progress.
Simply leaving myself space to NOT KNOW was a significant step.
And so, that is what I want to offer you today.
If you are in the midst of a crisis that you don’t understand:
It’s okay to not know what it means yet.
It’s okay to feel scared and stretched too thin, and to ask for help.
It’s okay to feel uncertain and weak, and to tell the truth about that experience.
I’m reminded of these lines from Tara Westover’s brilliant book Educated:
“To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the conviction to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s.”
Here’s what I’ve come to believe over the last few weeks: My circumstances aren’t nearly as important as the meaning I make of them.
And, I reserve the right to not know yet what I will make of them. I reserve the right to be in uncertainty for as long as I need to be.
All I can tell you is: Eventually, I’m going to make something GOOD.
If you’ve read my book You Don’t Owe Anyone, then you know I’ve taken tough stories and made them into something beautiful. Somehow, I’m going to do the same with this.
And I believe that you can, too.
Whatever it is you’re wrestling with right now …
It can be the raw material for your art.
It can be the battering ram for your breakthrough.
You get to decide.
The strength in me salutes the strength in you,