Quiet Desperation

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Quiet Desperation

I woke up Monday morning in a piss-shit mood. Yes, that is really a mood one can have. I’m living proof. Nothing was wrong, but everything was just off. I didn’t want to get up with the alarm. I didn’t want to drive my daughter to work or be nice to the dogs. I didn’t want to run. I begrudgingly did each of these things anyway.

Bad moods no longer play here, so once I got a cup of decaf and some parsley/apple/lemon juice pumping through my veins, it was time to deconstruct my foul demeanor. I quickly realized that I’m back to that whiney ass, “what am I going to be when I grow up thing” again. Uggg. To just be content where I sit is a luxury I do not know.

I have a great life. There is no arguing about it. I have a loving husband and amazing children and a house and a mini van and three dogs who shadow me wherever I go. It’s awesome. It is all truly awesome.

The thing is, I didn’t intentionally choose this life. I got married, had kids, and stupidly turned off my brain, plugging into the “societal norm,” and allowed society to choose for me. I got stuck in the media loop of perfect wife/perfect mother/perfect life until I got head-butted by the cold hard reality that I don’t want perfect.

My husband patiently rubbed my back and listened to me as I once again bemoaned my inability to find my thing (seriously, I don’t know how he stands it). He knows that I love him and our children. He knows I’m not ungrateful. When he says that he sees a spark of potential lying dormant in my soul, I really want to believe him, but he’s been telling me this for a very long time.

I constantly express my heart felt gratitude for all the wonderful in my life and I mean it. I tell myself over and over and over and over again, that my life is great. I say I’m happy. I say I don’t need anymore then I currently have. I say all these things and they are the absolute truths and the biggest lies I’ve ever told.

Here’s the deal. I have a lot of awesome in my life but my dirty little secret is this, I want more and I want different. Here and now and this, while awesome, aren’t what I want my end game to be.

The thing is that thinking this way makes me feel cheap and ungrateful and even dirty. Every time I aspire, every time I dream, every time I reach even just a little, the voices start, again. “You’re not smart / connected / accomplished / pretty enough.” “There’s already forty bazillion people doing that thing.”  “The world doesn’t need another ______.” “Don’t be greedy. You already have enough.” And then there is my all time favorite, “who do you think you are?”

I’ve been stuck in the rut of telling myself that, “God has a bigger dream for me than I can dream for myself “ (thank you very much, Oprah). I’ve been lulled into submission by believing that “I’m open to whatever the universe wants to bestow on me.” Now I realize that while submitting to God’s dreams and accepting the universe’s largesse are all well and good, neither of them are going to show up until I set my intention. I have to name it, and I have to set my sites on claiming it, first.

I don’t have to tell my husband or my friends about my dreams. I don’t have to write or announce my ambitions to the world. I don’t have to admit a single, solitary aspiration even when directly questioned. But the one thing I do have to do, the one nonnegotiable is this; I have to admit it to myself. I have to own my truth and be ruthlessly honest with me. Until I’m ready to look myself square in the eye and honestly admit just what I need and how much of it I want and what color and size and shape it is, until then, I will continue to live my extremely happy life of quiet desperation.


  1. Oh, Denise. I can SO relate to this post. I am in exactly the same place you are. Your heart spoke directly to mine.

    • A big hug across many miles to you, Holly. We’ll keep at it and get it figured out. Our second act is about to start. Let’s make it amazing.

  2. Denise, I see glimmers of light in all of this. You recognized that your mood was triggered by something inside and thoughtfully set out to consider the source. You identified a longing that’s driving you forward to discover your calling, whatever it may be. You expressed your gratitude for present grace. You told yourself the truth — that moving forward is up to YOU. Frankly, I think you’re ready to bust loose. Savvy woman that you are, it’ll be combined with all of the above. With a smile. Change is always preceded by unrest.

    • Oh, Kimby, Thank you for those kind words. I’m really shocked at how hard it is for me to just admit to myself what I want and go for it. I mean really go for it. I have ideas. I have inklings. I just don’t own up to them. I hope you’re right because I want to bust loose.

  3. You have SO BEAUTIFULLY captured it!!!!! Thank you.

    …. if I actually ask for what I want and I’m willing to let myself have it, Honesty with myself requires me to actually be authentically willing to give up my assumptions and comfort of my familiar life. It’s familiar….and like it or not, honestly, its quite safe and oh so predictable:))

    • That’s one of my issues as well, Angela. I’m comfortable where I am and also not sure what different is suppose to feel like.

  4. How awesome are you to pour out your heart. You are courageous and I see your passion. I’ve felt your journey as you have written this to a place of where creation starts. How exciting. *Big Hugz*

  5. I hear you. That feeling is what made me take the B-school leap

    • It keeps me moving forward as well. If I keep adding wonderful things and wonderful people, I can’t help but end up with a lot of wonderful, right?

  6. Love this!!!! I know that mood all to well. I have spent the last several years getting myself out of the way so that I could surrender to God’s will in my life. Not always easy but definetly rewarding.

    • Getting out of my own way is my biggest issue. I just hold on so tight.

  7. Your story is the story a lot of us are living too. Thankyou so much for expressing it so beautifully and putting into words what so many of us feel on a daily basis. Thankyou also for reminding me that I’m not alone in all this and that there are other women who are going through this seekers journey too. 🙂

  8. Denise,

    I loved this post. It is so real and raw. Inspiring to read.

    Tabitha 🙂

  9. Reading your post was like reading my own thoughts and the place had been to so many many times. Denise there is so much beauty here! It feels as if you are in that place where there is a spark or fire in your belly of deep desire – it’s a soul’s calling really. Your words radiate honesty, surrender, and acceptance. Say YES to yourself and explore all those fertile ideas and let your heart guide you…thank you so much for expressing what needs to be expressed more often.

  10. I can tell by what you say that everything is right here! This is when you can be grateful for endless possibility. Thank you for sharing your truth!

  11. Denise: wow wow wow! I can so relate! I too, have a great life; good marriage, beautiful home, 2 great kids but I too, wondered “Is this all there is?” then I realized that my life was meant to be lived in stages. And…. nothing happens until I get off my tushie and do something!

    thanks for such an enlightening post!

    • I’ve become attached to the idea of stages too, Maureen. It’s just that getting myself out of this one and into the next has been a bit tough. But we’ll do it…we’ll soldier forward and get the good.

  12. So much wisdom in this post and all the beautiful responses that followed it. I see you have a strong “inner critic.” I also see that you have a strong sense of self, deep gratitude for all that you do have in your life and a yearning for more. I loved Maureen’s comment: “Then I realized my life was meant to be lived in stages.”

    I look forward to reading your next “chapter”.

    • An extremely strong inner critic, Sue Ann, that is blessedly tempered by wonderful friends both old and new.

  13. Oh Denise! The internal critic is such a brute! You have all the permission in the universe to quest for *more* and different* and you don’t need to make apologies.

    I, too, am a seeker and realize that I will always be searching for *something* else, but, I also know that I can be happy at my core at the same time. The two states can co-exist, albeit a little difficultly at times.

    S big part of the unrest we feel as women is that we were sold a bill of goods about having it all and the societal bullshit and expectations. Carve your own path, make no apologies, love and dance openly. It’s your life, you choice, make it good!

    • Oh, we are sold a bill goods and I bought into it hook, line, sinker. I realized that I don’t want it all. I just want to hold onto the good, let go of what I no longer need, and dive head first into *something* else.

  14. Great post! It’s refreshing to read an article that is so open and honest.

    • Thanks.

  15. Denise, thank you for sharing your deep thoughts. I, too, have tangled with that “voice.” But I’ve learned that it’s our ego, our lizard brain, trying to keep things “comfortable” for us, even though that doesn’t sound like it makes sense. I’ve lean red to be at peace with what is while forging ahead at the same time. But it’s a constant dance and I commend you for your stark honesty. There’s a woman named Sherold Barr who helps with the lizard brain if you ever wanted to chip away at it. Follow your spark!

    • I’m learning, slowly to separate the id from the ego. Slow going especially for one like me who locked that part of soul away for so long. It is a dance and lovely in it’s intricacies and insanities.

  16. Magnificent! Denise! The Quest! The drive seeded in each ALIVE human being! the questions the pursuit after like a hot lover that one desires more than any other… THAT is what carries ANY one that you/I admire into their wild creative genius and out with it into the world… in whatever way or form.

    It AIN”T about the money, right? it IS about self actualization. Something powerful is calling you. Track it through your fantasies, dreams, desire. She is right there for you! me! and anyone who responds to the call. Too many don’t!

    • It CAN’T be about the money…It just CAN”T. I realized that and am diligently pushing the dollars aside (http://www.deniseellisstewart.com/?p=220). I hear callings…I just have to be certain I’m tuned into the best voice and then, then it’s all steely nerves and dogged determination. Breathe…

  17. Fabulous Post Denise. Your feelings are so similar to my own. As we are learning to further our dreams. They are Alive within our Brilliant Imaginations! They are our true Hearts desires. Waiting to be Manifested into our lives and into the World. Keep your words flowing. You are on the right path. The gifts you bring are the ones that you were born with. No one else has those same gifts that you will be sharing with others. Do what brings you the most Joy & You love doing it because it feels so good doing it.

    Have a Blissful Beautiful Day,
    Lisa Bull

    • Thank you so much for reading and so much for your kind words. I was contemplating a break, but will keep at it and keep moving forward. I feel very “pregnant” with ideas and potential and excited to see what will come of all this work. Love to you.

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