Why I Blew Up My Life
When Sleeping Giants and Strange Angels knock on your door in the night, let them in
I recently found one of my Spotify playlists from a decade ago and decided to let it drive me down memory lane.
The first few fizzy bars of the song Australia by The Shins transported me back to 2012 when my hair was brown and I wore twee dresses in the summer. It felt like I was back in my old Honda Civic driving on an Ohio highway on my way to work, singing at the top of my lungs:
🎶 "You'll be damned to pining through the window panes at things you know/You'd trade your life for any ordinary Joe's/Well do it now or grow old/Your nightmares only need a year or two to unfold..." 🎶
This song and its lyrics called out to me and I listened to it on repeat for months. I let the beat slip me into a daydream; a fantasy land very different from my reality—a place where I could be myself, where I had meaning and purpose, where I felt real love, where I had adventures, where I could be free.
At first, I didn’t think much about the daydreams. People have daydreams.
But over time, these fantasies grew more vivid until they morphed into a deep longing for a totally different life.
🎶 ”Dare to be one of us, girl…” 🎶
Sleeping Giants and Strange Angels
In her book Broken Open, Elizabeth Lesser writes,
“If you have spent a long time on the surface of your life, you will begin to hear a knock at the door in the night. You may already know what that knock sounds like. It sounds as if someone you don’t want to see has come for a visit. […] The knock at the door can come as a disquieting dream or as a secret plan you pray you’ll never enact: leaving a job or a marriage, finally telling your parent off, or revealing a hidden truth to the world.”
The author questions: Are these bad ideas or are they Sleeping Giants and Strange Angels?
Is it better to leave these kinds of ideas alone, to leave the questions unanswered?
Or are these secret longings a call from the soul?
Are they telling us that our life is off track?
…That we’re not living in alignment with truth?
…That we’re driving down the wrong road?
I was, in fact, driving down the wrong road. But it took me a while to admit it. At first, I felt intense guilt and shame for even having these kinds of fantasies.
How dare I want more? Aren’t I supposed to want this life? Aren’t I so lucky to have created this for myself? What right do I have to blow up my life and the lives of everyone around me? What if I take a big leap and fail? What will everyone say/think? Will I lose everyone I love?
🎶 ”You'll be damned to be one of us girl/faced with the dodo's conundrum/I felt like I could just fly/but nothing happened every time I tried, ooh-ooh!” 🎶
To Wake or Stay Asleep?
When Sleeping Giants and Strange Angels come knocking in the night, you can ignore them and go back to sleep if you choose.
I tried this at first.
But before long, I grew increasingly tense trying to hold it all in. Life became dull and flat. I started acting like someone I didn’t recognize. I felt exhausted all the time. Meanwhile, Strange Angels erupted all kinds of crises and chaos in a desperate bid for my attention. Eventually, I had no choice but to give in.
Sleeping Giants and Strange Angels lead us down a dangerous path. This journey takes a great deal of courage. Listening to our innermost truth often requires us to confront old wounds and our deepest fears. Sometimes it means that we have to take a sledgehammer to the life we’ve spent years building. It’s painful and the journey is long and winding.
🎶 “Never dreamt of such sterile hands/you keep 'em folded in your lap/or raise them up to beg for scraps…” 🎶
In the years since Australia played on repeat from the CD chamber of my old car, Sleeping Giants and Strange Angels have had their way with me more than once. I totally changed my life: my job, my relationship, my location—just to demolish it again a handful of years later.
My first major life transition rocked my foundations. It broke me financially and I lost friends I thought I’d have in my life forever. The experience was even more painful than I’d anticipated and I wasn’t quite strong enough then to stay the course.
So, I jumped right back into my comfort zone at the first chance. And of course, a few years later, Sleeping Giants and Strange Angels were back at my door. This second time around, though, I only half-listened. I changed some aspects of my life but stayed in denial about others.
Then the big one came.
In 2018, I fell down the stairs in a freak accident and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that significantly disabled me for about two years. As I was recovering, my stepdad died of ALS, my business downsized, and my marriage failed—all right before COVID hit.
I had no choice but to go all-in—but this time I’m strong enough to handle it.
Re-building a more authentic life has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve been forced to face things about myself that I spent my entire life escaping. I had to learn to live with uncertainty. Once again, I lost money and friendships.
Sometimes I marvel at people who have had a more linear path and wonder why mine ended up this way. But despite the difficult lessons, I am grateful for them because breaking my life down has broken me open.
🎶 “Been alone since you were twenty-one/you haven't laughed since January/you try and make like this is so much fun/but we know it to be quite contrary/la-la-la-la…” 🎶
Let Them In
I’m still in the process of rebuilding my life; I’m not yet on the other side–but I already live with more ease and grace.
There’s a certain type of freedom that comes with authenticity and alignment. I feel more confident and comfortable in my skin. I am buoyant. My eyes are clearer; my spirit is brighter. I no longer need six different psychiatric medications just to survive. I love where I live and the people who surround me. I know I’m working toward my passions and purpose. I finally embrace the parts of myself that I cast away out of embarrassment and shame. I’m no longer easily triggered or provoked. I can handle challenges with aplomb.
I can finally breathe.
And thankfully, I’m starting to see the very first fruits of my labor. Bit by bit, piece by piece, I am building the life that I used to dream about in that dusty old Honda Civic back in 2012 while listening to Australia.
It’s scary, but if Sleeping Giants and Strange Angels come knocking at your door, let them in. Follow that voice inside yourself that wants what it wants. Don’t go back to sleep. Yes, it’s hard. But this is the way. This is the life worth living; the reason we are here.
🎶 ”You don't know how long I have been/watching the lantern dim/starved of oxygen/so give me your hand and let's jump out the windooow… ” 🎶