How I Learned To Save Myself

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“My life just became a series of expectations that were met. All of it, I delivered. That’s just how I operated. I was fine. I was content. I was happy. Until I wasn’t.”

Did you just read that quote and sigh? Have you ever experienced the feeling of moving through life without feeling any of it? While I didn’t realize it while I was in the thick of it, that was me!

It came as a complete surprise. Life was moving along so fast that I didn’t even see it coming. The season was busy for our young family. My days consisted of teaching students all day and serving as the ringleader of our household circus the rest of the time. Raising children, marketing, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry never stopped.

Sound familiar?

I wasn’t doing anything unusual and I didn’t see myself as unique or different from any other mom or dad just trying to get through the days. In order to make sure things kept rolling along, I kept my head down and pressed forward. My talent was smoothing over anything. When the craziest of the craziness would hit, I could always take it down with a smile.

I was the type of person who never let myself get in the way. My feelings weren’t important. My time wasn’t valuable. My focus was on the people around me. Stumbling through my life, but not living. Crossing off the tasks without satisfying my own needs. Maybe you can relate. 

The series of events that was my life was less about me than it was about the process of living. Here I was, just moving along, through each expected stage, doing every expected thing. Hints were whispered to me at every turn, through every season, yet I rarely responded.

When I finally looked up, I realized that I was gone. The person I was had disappeared. It was frightening to the point that I didn’t want to accept it. To accept it meant that I needed to deal with it. To deal with it meant that I had to go places in my head that I really didn’t want to go. 

After months of sleepless nights, countless days of self-doubt, and assorted white lies I used to camouflage my truth, I realized that I had the power to save myself. It would require time that was focused on me, which would probably feel uncomfortable. Learning some things about myself that I didn’t fully appreciate would also be a big part as well as recognizing that I had to do the work. It was time to resuscitate myself and start living again.

The more I tried to look inward, the more I discovered that I wasn’t really a person outside of my assigned roles. Nothing about me was really about me.

My process of renewal was full of trial and error. It was frustrating and beautiful and ultimately gave me the power to close certain doors while opening myself up to new challenges. It required work to find myself, to drag what was left of my identity up from the deep waters. The result was a series of five questions that served as my life preserver. It wasn’t easy, but was worth it.

I kept a journal of my progress. Even though the exploration was personal, I felt that my experience could be relevant to others. As my confidence slowly came back, I started to write what ultimately became my self-help book, Lifeguard. I wrote and set my writing aside. Wrote some more and set it aside. Added a few lines and set it aside. You get the picture. It took years to complete the process. Exposing myself in that way felt too vulnerable for quite some time. I had to come to terms with my reality and stop hiding before I shared it with others.

When you read the book, be ready to act as well. Lifeguard was designed to be part personal story, part workbook with one goal. My vision was to provide a framework for readers to analyze their lives with a goal of greater self-awareness. It takes you through my journey, and then it’s your turn to do the work. This isn’t a book to read and leave on the shelf. It’s a book designed for readers to interact with the text. Those same five questions that I used as my guide are there for you to examine.

“I discovered the harsh reality of anonymity in my own life. I also knew that I held the power to save myself.”

What about you? Is it time to reach for the life preserver? We all find it easy to exist just beneath the surface, something I remember all too well. Is it time to become your own lifeguard? C’mon- just dive in.

Lifeguard by Dianne Schramm is available exclusively through Amazon.


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