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My husband will press buttons on his keyboard…

…buttons or tabs or keys he may not know what they are there for, but he presses them to find out what they do.

You guys, the thought of this has me over here breathing in a paper bag!

We’ve talked about this. After 30 plus years of this crazy behavior…touching computer buttons without knowing what they may or may not do, well, the reality is, he hasn’t blown up or set fire to anything, I don’t think any computers have actually “crashed” as a result of this erratic behavior, and he’s actually smarter than when he started. I mean, he understands computers. He can code. He knows all the shortcuts. He can push 3 buttons at once. It’s crazy!

And none of this happened by playing it safe. He pushed buttons. Even when he didn’t know what they were for, he pushed them to figure it out, learning as he went, discovering their potential.

Some people call this “fake it ’til you make it.”

I prefer to call it a posture of learning, a teachable spirit, discovery…bravery.

Call it what you will, but pushing buttons on computers or pulling down tabs and clicking on this or that scares the heckouttame! And as a person who believes much of life is symbolic for something much deeper, I realize I’m in trouble.

See, it wasn’t always this way. I wasn’t always this way. In my mid-30’s I reconnected with a fellow activist and peacemaker after not seeing one another for probably 5 years. We were eating the most flavorful Tibetan food and I was soaking in the conversation with the 5 people around the table. Something was said, I don’t remember what, but tears suddenly poured down my face, washing away the rest of my mask.

My friend asked, “What happened to you? Where’s the Adrienne Graves I knew who was larger than life, who could take on the world? Who would walk into a room and silently command attention?Where did she go?”

Here’s a confession: I only get glimpses of her here and there. I feel like I lost her a while back. And “paralysis by analysis” is the likely diagnosis. I’ve been trying to find her again, but maybe she actually is gone and there’s a new “Adrienne” to unearth? Or maybe I have to go really far back and rediscover who I once was, who I was originally designed to be? I have a feeling I know what happened…

Please hear me: DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR ME. People who know I’ve lost a child immediately go to that place out of their own fear, empathy, compassion, or whatever, and that’s super thoughtful of you, but my sole identity is not found in being a bereaved parent. I lived 34 years before Noah was born.

That being said, Noah only lived for 7 months, but the effect his life and death has had on me over the last 11 years has been profound, in good ways, and really, really bad ones.

I don’t know how all survivors or bereaved parents feel, but I know that I carry an extreme weight around, one I’ve placed on myself, or stuffed deep inside my guts for years. I was probably trying to buffer others from how it all really felt, as not to impose because I wouldn’t want others to ever have to feel that kind of grief. Anyway, when we decided to remove Noah from life support, I didn’t want that physical action or responsibility on anyone else. I was his mom and figured it was only appropriate for me to be the one who made the literal and symbolic “disconnect.”

I don’t carry guilt that I disconnected our son from life support.

Instead I carry guilt about the day to day. I carry the burden of urgency that life is short, time is of the essence, I must make every. single. moment. matter. and if it doesn’t, if it’s not meaningful or purposeful or intentional (like the name of this blog), if I just want to be ridiculous or not do anything or waste a few minutes, do or say or think something that doesn’t impact the lives of those around me, it’s futile. Meaningless.

I’m not saying this is true. I’m saying this is what goes through my thoughts on any given day…

And that’s where I am today, at least at this second: stuck, paralyzed, directionless. Three days ago, I was ready to gather 4 billion women and rally their stories to usher in world peace. Two weeks ago I was in the book writing zone, even mapping out chapters. Five hours ago I was wondering if I should re-read Victor Frankl’s, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” once again. Yesterday I just wanted a complete do-over…

There are a million dreams and creative aspirations in my head focused on healing and peacemaking and sharing peoples’ stories and championing for the next generation of epic sh*t doers, but because I can’t gauge whether they’ll encourage or inspire others to the depth and degree I hope for, I don’t do them. I feel like I don’t do anything. It’s paralysis by analysis.

Like, I can’t. even. somedays. You guys, I can’t even go to the grocery store without trying to encourage some stranger…because buying vegetables would be basic, not life-changing.

And it’s so effing emotionally exhausting.

To avoid pushing buttons, I’ve remodeled houses and moved across the country and run away on trips and shaved my head…they’ve all been ways to avoid actually writing a book that could possibly offend readers or change lives or launching a story initiative that pushes the envelope or collaborating women of all ages to do epic world-changing stuff…or avoid grief, altogether…

It’s truly no way to live, this stuffing it all in, so I need to find another way, a safe way to get it out, because I’m not sure we were designed to try to contain it all…and at what point did we start believing we had to?


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