In my early 30s, I had everything: a marriage, a house, a successful career, a dog, friends, volunteer work, a garden, and a book club.
But I felt incomplete.
What I really needed? A baby.
My husband didn’t think I needed a baby, though. He thought I needed an unattached life, the same unattached life that he needed.
It took a while to bring him over to my way of thinking. In August 2004 we had a baby.
Not long after that? My hair started to fall out and my marriage started to fall apart.
I also did not sleep for an entire year, which had a negative effect on my career. It’s hard to cover up the fact that one’s brain isn’t quite operating at full-power when one dials into a conference call not just at the wrong time, but on the wrong day. Ditto when one doesn’t show up for a training session because one thought said session started at 1 p.m. instead of 11 a.m.
And because I was moody and boring and self absorbed and never wanted to leave the house because I was too tired to stand up? I grew out of touch with my friends.
And I stopped reading books because, whenever I opened one, I fell asleep.
So I stopped going to book club.
And I resigned from my position as chair of a volunteer organization because the idea of doing anything other than being a mom and a writer made me feel overextended.
Weeds took over my garden. Then the grass came. Soon you couldn’t tell that I ever had a garden.
But my dog still loved me. Dogs are good that way.
My dog’s love, though, wasn’t enough to keep me from feeling misunderstood, overwhelmed, and alone. I don’t recommend those feelings if you can avoid them.
It was a hospital-based stress reduction class that changed everything. I signed up because my internist suggested that the tingling sensation that I noticed periodically in my right arm was not a sign of an impending heart attack, but rather a sign that I had a stress disorder. He prescribed the class. I was such a mess that my health insurance covered the cost.
By the end of the class, I felt like I’d escaped from a Matrix. My entire life seemed different. I felt in control of my destiny again, and I started to take charge.
I started a marriage project, one that spanned 4 months and involved reading 12 marital improvement books. I took charge of my career. I re-established some friendships and made new ones, too. I started attending book club again.
I got myself together. And then I felt inspired—more inspired than I’d ever felt in my life.