Source art: ©iStockphoto.com/MJ Photography

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.

About the Author: Suzanne Grenager

A seasoned writer and mentor with a gift for helping people see and be their most authentic, empowered Self.

5 Comments

  1. Alex January 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    hi guys, becky and suzanne,

    thought i might share here even though im younger without having the responsibilities of raising my own children and taking care of my family. hopefully these ideas can help in some ways.

    when we change, our relationships change, and the people around us change… we dont always have control of how. when we make decisions to take care of ourselves whether it be our basic needs or of self affirmation this impacts our closest relationships and others… it seems reasonable to think that those that are more dependent on us might be impacted more than others by these decisions. the impact is variable of course and it seems we can never know for certain what outcomes to expect.

    i tend to believe that so much of life and the meaning we experience is what we make of it — as such, the ups and downs we experience. transition can be challenging especially when things seem new and unfamiliar. it’s in these kinds of situations that we learn to readjust and recreate. this doesn’t seem intrinsically like a negative thing. ultimately maybe it’s what we make of it. this kind of transition can be a wonderful thing. knowing this possibility could provide you with some hope moving forward… hope is essential! it can lead to a vision which can be a guiding star for you along your path.

    is anything ever perfect? doesn’t there always appear to be areas in life that could use some adjusting or stabilizing? having your basic needs met is important but it isn’t everything all the time. at least that’s what i have to tell myself — im 26 years old and learning how to achieve stability on the basic and higher levels. but, it happens to all of us. my uncle and i were just speaking last night about this… he’s 42 and is in the same boat as i am and is trying to achieve something similar. and there are kids involved.

    it’s okay to be selfish to some degree. we must take care of ourselves. my aunt likes to say “after me, the world comes first.” we all will learn how to make our ways as individuals… even our children. they will some day get to an age where many of their life experiences will be so much about how they choose to navigate, accept or surrender or will their way within them.

    this is a decision however that you might want to try and make together with your husband and your children (depending on how old they are). since it’s a decision that’s going to impact everyone, maybe it’s important to get everyone’s input. find a common thread that you can all agree upon and build on that (thinking about “conflict resolution” techniques). maybe together you can find ways to assert and have your needs met with out neglecting others’.

    thinking about local level development and sustainability and justice 🙂 it seems that figuring out a way to empower everyone and take care of their needs through this experience regardless of what you end up choosing is most important for you and for making this time a success for you. this will be an evolving process. one step at time. as long as you continue to reconnect with your intention to find happiness and meaning, and keep it alive while you are making decisions, those will be the kinds of experiences you will create in your life. and i can imagine, this will likely be a positive impact on your family.

    best of luck!

  2. Mary January 11, 2012 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Hi Suzanne and Becky. Wow, I can totally relate to Becky’s situation. Perhaps it happens to many of us who reach a certain age and sense a conflict with what we have to do and where our passion lies. I relate to Becky in many aspects…corporate job, family to support, feeling trapped in a job, but obligated to stay due to financial considerations. Passion lies elsewhere. Co-workers are competitive and not authentic. i don’t relate as well in this atmosphere as I am about inclusion, teamwork, everyone is happy, etc.

    I’ve come to believe that some things can’t change, but we can find other outlets to offset what we are lacking. At work I try to focus on things I am grateful for such as having a job in this economy, the part of my job that helps people, personal relationships etc. Try to avoid the negativity and people that sap my energy.

    Personally, I have learned Reiki, read about Feng Shui, read a lot of books that give me new ideas and try to find groups of women with similar passion.

    My husband and I often say wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have the obligations we have, to just quit our jobs, move to another state and do something we love. However we have 2 children we adore, that we need to support so the decisions aren’t ours alone.

    I personally like to save up and treat myself to relaxation techniques, such as massages, alternative therapies etc.

    Becky, I wish you the best and want to let you know you are not alone. Hoping you can find a way to live your passion even if it means staying with your job and finding another outlet for your creativity and passion. Much love, Mary

  3. Carol Cris Hudson January 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Worrying about money is a consuming, negative thing to do. I was on foodstamps, welfare, and Farmer’s Home Housing when my children were growing up. (I had 3 children and was a single parent recieving no support) I grew up with money and lots of pride. I did not want to ask my parents for help so struggled by myself. I wen back to school toget my 4 year degree in educaion when my children were 6, 5, and 4 years old. There were many mountains of adversity to conquer – wondering which was best to tryand go over them or just take the easy way around them. We all lived without alot but I always said we were ever so rich in love. It is amazing how little we all actually needed. I was lucky to live in Maine which was quite rural and had boys who were not fashion conscious. They had a great childhood, played sports, and all went to college without my family’s help.

    I suggest perhaps you have a good talk with your husband and children and decide how important material things really are. Another course would be to bite the bullet and wait til your kids are out of school . What is most important is others around you will sense your dilemma and no one will be happy. THere is nothing worse than a martyr – not being appreciated is almost as bad. ! Your family needs to share your feelings and you nee to count your blessings! There is lots of yin and yang in life. NOw that I have grandchildren I look back and have decided those were the best years of my life! Raising my children – working – living!
    The yang is I am happy today too and still loving life’s challenges – and I am not yet really financially secure. I am just trying to live each day to the fullest!

  4. Rockstarwoodsman April 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Great Becky asked for help.

  5. Trina Adermann April 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Becky,

    I feel your issue deeply. For years, I pushed aside my hopes and dreams of returning to my goals of being an artist. It’s actually what I went to college for. My first husband did not understand my need “to create” something. I have been mocked for it, put down, called stupid and told basicly “it’s a pipe dream.” So for almost 20 years, I have pushed it to the back burner to take on other jobs and wear many different hats in life. Little do others know how strong this desire to “create” is though.

     I have family that does not understand this need to express myself. Yet,
    it presents itself now and did back then in all sort of creative ways.
    It comes out in my writing, the things I make for our family, in my 
    2nd wedding, with my children, my outlook on life, and in my personality. Many do not know how to take me and it leaves me often on the outside looking in as there are a few who are jealous of my abilities and wish to see me fail.

    After my divorce, a friend asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I stated simply that I wanted to go back and find my art talent again. At that point, I hadn’t drawn anything in years and wasn’t sure if I still could do it.  But slowly after 2 years, I braved it and decided to take a leap of faith with my new husband encouraging me all the way. We had talked about it for two years prior to our wedding and he had encouraged me for two years to pick up my pencil and return to being the girl who drew all the time that he knew when we were kids. 🙂

    It has been a struggle yes. But let me tell you , the inner peace that comes from doing what you know you were born to do is so worth it. Keep chasing those dreams and they will materialize. Don’t be afraid to venture outside your comfort zone to make it happen. There will also be those who say you can’t and wish to stand in your way of seeing you reach your full potential. I have yet to understand all the reasons why. But, the hard work necessary to get there is one and drive is another. It’s so much easier to sit back, point fingers and say “look at her, her an artist, harruumphhh!”

    I wish you much success, peace and happiness.

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