The morning after this website went live, I opened my email to find my first message from the site’s Connect page. It was from a stranger named Becky, and the subject heading said: “My Fear.” Becky was writing to ask for help with a huge, very tough life question faced, in one form or another, by several women and men I have known and counseled.
Because I want this to be a place where people share concerns and support each other, I asked Becky if I could share our exchange, so those of you who have been in her situation, and those who haven’t, might add valuable perspective to what I chose to say to her. Becky welcomes all the support we can give her. And her willingness to tolerate the intolerable out of fear of poverty —and I’d add, probably also of change and of disappointing others—is a familiar litany many of us will relate to. Her desire to live with passion and power is one we can all embrace.
Here is what Becky wrote: “I fear poverty. I grew up poor. As an adult, I’ve become financially successful. And unhappy. I am responsible not only for supporting myself, but also for the financial fate of my entire family: my husband (stay-at-home dad), my kids, and my parents.
“I work in a high-stress corporate environment and feel no passion for what I do. I don’t even like many of the people I work with. But it’s not just this job. I know deep down that I don’t want any job like this, no matter what it pays. I want to do work I love, to find my true vocation. But as a parent, my life isn’t all about me. And reading this back to myself, it sounds selfish.”
Becky continued: “The great test of my soul in this life is to develop the courage to face my fear of poverty head on and walk away. I would if it were just me. But I can’t see myself being the adult who allows my own kids to grow up with the level of financial insecurity I did. I do all sorts of soul searching and what I call light Buddhist presence work to maintain my sanity as well as possible and sustain what feels unsustainable.”
Becky ended: “My question is this: how can you go through a major life transition affecting your career and livelihood when so many others count on you to provide for them?”
Phew! I was deeply affected by the sincerity and gravity of Becky’s question. I didn’t know the answer. I told Becky I needed to take time to ponder her question deeply and wait till I was inspired before I replied. I wanted to see if I could shed at least enough light for Becky to see her way toward a first step or two out of the darkness. I’ll post my reply to her here soon.
Categories: Letting Go