Our Stories

Alone on the Rough Seas of Change

August 22, 2017

“Now, Martha,

you just think how you’d feel yourself,

in a big place like that,

wanderin’ about all ALONE…”

The Secret Garden

We were driving home from our son’s first high school football scrimmage game last week, when my 11 year old daughter broke the silence from her back seat with a sniffle.

“I’m afraid to start school on Monday.” She said quietly. “I’ve never been to a new school before.

What if I don’t make any friends? What if I have to eat lunch all alone?”

I reached back from the front passenger seat to pat her on the knee, trying my best to be assuring, while internally waiting patiently for this oh-too-familiar wave of fear to head back out to sea.

Fear is sneaky like that and tends to wash over us when we least expect it.

Our home has recently seen it’s fair share of these rouge waves of fear that kept washing our typically confident daughter onto the rocky shores of insecurity in a nanosecond.  Eventually, after some discussion and distractions, she would settle back into her old self again.

The stormy seas began just two weeks ago, when Rylan decided to bravely leave the safety and security of the small school, staff, and friends she that she had always known…for the larger neighboring middle school. It was to be a GRAND NEW ADVENTURE! And while this new school was full of exciting opportunities, it seemed at least in her mind, to be overflowing with WAY too many unknowns.

“I don’t know how to open my locker! I don’t know how to get to my classes. I don’t know what my schedule is. I don’t know who my teachers will be.”

And the biggest one: “I don’t know ANYONE in this school.”

One minute she would be super excited about changing schools and then BAM!…her fear of being friendless and alone would rush in and steal her joy.

We have all felt this same fear, haven’t we? No one wants to be alone…and certainly not at school. But nothing I said seemed to help…so I just kept holding on, as the waves continued to crash over her.

Frances wrote a poem at age 10, just one year shy of my Rylan’s age, describing how tormenting loneliness can be:

“Alone—alone!” The wind shrieks, “Alone!”

And mocks my lonely sorrow.

“Alone–alone!” the tree seams to moan,

“For thee there’s no bright tomorrow.”

I just love this poem and can imagine Frances acting it out for her mother and sister in her oh-so-dramatic way.

As I write this, I just realized the brilliant and embarrassing-mom-moment I missed! I should have acted this poem out to Rylan in public to divert her when she started to worry again. #nexttime 

But here is the deal. As an adult, I know that there IS a BRIGHT TOMORROW on the other side of her friendless worries. But when you are 11, and stuck in the pit of loneliness and fear, it is so hard to see past those shrieking winds and moaning trees.


My heart has ached for my sweet girl, because as an adult, I know that this fear of being alone, friendless and not fitting in…will happen AGAIN.  This, my love, is just the beginning.

“How do I know?”, she might ask.

Because I too felt this same fear as I walked onto my new 6th grade campus with barely brushed hair and my Coca-cola t shirt tucked deep into my acid washed jean skirt. But in time, I found my friends. And I was afraid of being friendless again at 16, even writing my own sappy poem about my feelings of not belonging with or to anyone.


“Where is my place? Where do I belong?

Where are the notes to my unwritten song?

Where do I fit in this puzzle of life?

Since I’m no child’s mother, and I’m no man’s wife.

Why was I put here? Which road will be mine?

Will failure be my road, each time after time?

If so is it worth it, to travel life’s lane,

Through all of life’s pleasures and all of life’s pain?

Sometimes I don’t think so and others I do,

But life would be easier if only I knew…

Just where I might fit, where do I belong?

And where are the notes to my unwritten song? “

Keri Deupree, age 16(ish) …that’s ME!

But I made friends then too…one’s who understood me and encouraged me through those years.

I felt it walking into my dorm room in college to meet my pot-luck roommate for the first time. And well, we didn’t make friends, but the girl down the hall was really nice.

My daughter will start to tire of hearing my “back-then” stories…but then I will tell her about how years later I felt this same fear again as I sat wide-eyed in my seat, scanning around the room at my first national sales meeting for Crayola, wondering how on earth I was ever going to fit in with all of these creative and driven rock stars. And even among the stars…there too, I found amazing friends.

And to drive home my point, I will tell her about how 10 years ago I felt the loneliest, after we picked up our budding family, when she was only 6 weeks old, and moved to our precious little town where we didn’t know a soul. And it was here, in this tiny town, that I found the friends to beat all friends. They are now our tribe, her second mothers, and unrelated aunties.


So when I sent her off for her first day of school, I did so with the confidence of a sailor who has spent time on those same rough waters of fearing a life without friends. Because I knew that just on the other side of those BIG new school doors…was the next big catch of friends that would swim into her middle school heart.

And as she bounded out of school that day, with a smile on her face and a friend by her side…I knew the storm had finally passed…for this season at least.

Are you are starting a new a season in life, moving locations or changing careers or companies? Do not be afraid!  Be brave like Rylan and set sail on this grand new adventure. Then let down your nets and open up your heart.

In time, you too will find your people. Or perhaps, if you are like me…many times over, my people actually found me.

Sailing On Together,

FHB and Especially Me

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