I’m assuming most of us have heard of or have played the game of “Two Truths and One Lie” at one point or another in our lives. In case you haven’t yet, it’s a game usually played with friends, though not a requirement, where a person tells the audience two truths and one lie about themselves and the audience then has the task of identifying which are the truths, and which is the lie. Over the last two months, this game has come up not once, not twice, but three times in my life. Since for me the fourth time is the charm, I figured I would ask you to indulge me in a game of “Two Truths and One Lie”, only this time instead of making you guess I will speak my truth.
I’m a fifty-four-year-old woman who has lost her purpose in life. There was a time when I knew exactly what I was here for and what I was supposed to be doing every day, every minute and every second of my life. I had a career, it was stressful, but I enjoyed what I did, and I was good at it. I worked hard, and I made a good living doing it. I cared for my kids, performed my wifely duties, tended to my home, and still managed to fit in some quality time of leisure. Today, and for five years now I have found myself without a career and my needs at home are not as urgent since my sons have grown from boys to men. Now on most days when I wake up, I have absolutely nothing pressing to do. The things in my life are optional, and voluntary, some feel frivolous even, and on some days the most important decision I have to make is whether to leave the house or stay home. Despite the fact that deep down I know I have value, I know I am enough, sometimes it’s hard shaking the feeling I should be doing more. The truth is, after being out of work for over five years, I’m not sure whether my biggest fear is that I may have been rendered redundant and disqualified, at least in my previous profession, or if it’s my lack of desire to return to work.
Yes, there I said it and that’s my second truth. I have no desire to return to work, but sans the consideration of whether I can afford to or not, there is something ingrained in me that dictates that my primary value or worth is the sum of what I earn in a career outside of the home. It’s no wonder feelings of guilt persist, and questions of my employment status make me cringe whenever they do come up. My change in status is never more real than when the question comes up at the doctor’s office or on a form or questionnaire somewhere and I’m forced to respond “no” or “not applicable”. Not applicable, when and how did I fall into this category? The truth is, I know how I fell into this category, but it all feels so distant and irrelevant at this point.
The lie is one I tell myself that I am irrelevant, disqualified or not applicable. It’s the lie I tell myself that I have to do what most normal people my age are going. There goes those damn norms and timelines again! What is not a lie though is that I do have a purpose; I did then, I always did, and I still do now. Sure, the look and feel of that purpose has changed, but yes, I do have one, in fact many and I’m living and loving them. That’s the beauty of life and its changes and I would like to think that life has brought about a reimagining of my purpose. We have to break ourselves out of these lies we tell ourselves that our worth or value is primarily wrapped up in our means of income and our tangible contributions to our families and society. Sure, that might be true for some and maybe that’s okay, but at this point in my life that is not my truth, and I’m still learning to be at peace with that.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” – Mark 8:36