Sometimes life is about becoming unstuck, and that’s it.

by Janelle Hanchett

You may remember we were burglarized last September, twice. In one week. They stole my laptop and essentially every piece of jewelry Mac had ever given me during our 13 years together. They stole my grandmother’s ring, the single item I inherited from her.

It took months to “get over it,” but recently, the wound was reopened. Basically, through a rather coincidental chain of events I’d rather not elaborate on, we found out for sure who burglarized our home, and it was the person I suspected: Our former nanny’s son, a young man addicted to methamphetamines.

I knew it was him the moment I saw my jewelry box laid open, empty. I drove immediately to his home. He was in the street. I walked right up to him looked him dead in the eyes and said “Hey. I get it. I was a drug addict once too. Just give me back my things. Have them show up on my doorstep and I’ll give you $1000. No questions asked.”

Looking back, I realize he had probably already traded everything for a 20 sack, maybe two.

He went around and around about how it wasn’t him. But I knew it was. The sight of his face in my mind’s eye makes me feel sick. Lying motherfucker. I had no proof, but I knew. 100%.

And the worst part is I knew it was going to happen before it happened. I saw it in my mind. I literally saw in my mind that this person was going to burglarize our home.

I knew it the day my nanny sat in our living room and told me her son (who lived with her) was addicted to meth. A thought crossed my mind: One of these days, he’s going to find out through his mom that you’re gone for the weekend and he’s going to burglarize your home.

Three months later, that is precisely, EXACTLY what happened.


After my nanny left that day, I called my mom. I told her “I need to find a new nanny. I need to disconnect. Something bad is going to happen.”

But I did nothing.

I talked to Mac about it, told him my concerns. I am no stranger to drug addiction and what it causes. I am no stranger to the monsters people become.

But still I did nothing.

I did nothing against my better judgment.

I did nothing against every cell of my being screaming at me “Stop this. Get out. Bad things are going to happen.”

I did nothing because I ignored my intuition.

I did nothing until it was too late.

And that is the part I can’t get over.

That is the part that haunts me, late at night when I think about the family photos and videos that were lost in the stolen laptop and the pearl necklace gone, the one Mac gave me a couple months into our relationship, and the diamond ring I remember so clearly on my beloved grandmother’s thin, wrinkled gorgeous finger.

I did nothing because I was stuck. I was stuck in a motherfucking rut and I could not see out. I refused to see out. I would not see out.

Life gave me the signs. It gave me the chance to redirect, to move along, to do something new. The universe hinted, nudged, and at times downright pushed and shoved, but still, I did nothing.

Why? Because it was too hard. Because I preferred the comfort of my rut to the difficulty of a new course.

Our home was dark. The neighborhood was terrible. I hated it. We all hated it.  It was a dead, depressing place. We lived two houses down from a known drug house. They’d do deals in the street. They’d park in front of our house waiting for the delivery. Sometimes I’d walk up to them and knock on the car window, ask if I could help. Probably not the safest move, but it gets to the point when you don’t fucking care anymore. The neighbor on our left occasionally got drunk and poisoned animals in the neighborhood. We lived in near-constant fear of our animals getting out. One day our cat did. We found her on our driveway, poisoned the same way our two kitties died when we first moved in, two years prior, before we knew. Our street was a thoroughfare to the worst street in town, so a constant stream of addicts and drunks poured down our road like a sad parade. They left their trash on our lawn and their baggies on the sidewalk.

We needed to move a long time before, but we didn’t. We didn’t because we were stuck.  We didn’t because sometimes the misery you know is easier than the unknown, because it’s safer, or you think it is, simply because it is known.

It all starts to feel so heavy: The change. The fear surrounding it all: What will happen? What if it doesn’t work? Where will we go and do and how will it all work?

One day turns into the next and the next and the next and it’s just you and the aching intuition, the burning feeling that something needs to change. But nothing changes, because nothing changes. And fear.

The burglary ended it.

Shaken to our core, we were faced with the reality of what our life had become and how distant we had grown from that reality. Within 45 days our house was on the market and we had moved into my mom’s house. Within 90 days our house was sold and we were in escrow on another. Around 4 months from that burglary we moved into the house we live in now, a place I love so much I never want to leave (which is its own problem but one I love to have!). I had forgotten how much a miserable house can bring you down. I had forgotten what it feels like to love where you’re living, to feel “home” each day, in your home.

Action. Finally. Happened.

In a way, that burglary was the best thing to ever happen to us, but still I’m full of hatred sometimes, toward him, but mostly toward myself. Why didn’t I act? Why didn’t I do something? Why didn’t I trust my gut and heart?

I know. I already know: I was doing the best I could at the time. And really, it was just stuff gone. It’s just stuff. Means nothing.

But shit. It’s hard. You know?

Hard to face the elements of responsibility in our own lives, hard to square off with the truth about ourselves. It is not my fault that he burglarized our home. It is, however, my fault that I denied my intuition and chose comfort over change, even though that comfort was making me fucking miserable and I KNEW IT.

It is my fault that I didn’t leave a house and town and situation that was sucking the life out of me.

It is my fault I DID NOT ACT.

Life is strange, isn’t it? The way we stay in things that are killing us because at least we feel safe – hang out in the muck and dirt and mire because at least it’s the muck and dirt and mire we’re accustomed to. The way we justify the shit in our lives as if it’s other people’s faults when really it’s us – we’re the ones too chicken shit to move, paralyzed by our own indecision, cut off at the knees with terror. Of what, who knows. How could it be worse than this?

Until life slaughters us one day, to be reborn.

I’m beginning to think life is just a series of little deaths, of becoming unstuck, of seeing how fear pulses through my mind and spine and legs, moving my body for me, on nothing more than a glorified rat wheel. Around and around we call it “living.” I know the truth but I’m too scared to face it. That bullshit job, relationship, habit, whatever. The truth rests deep inside of me. I work every day to ignore it, until I cannot any longer.

I was stuck. I’m not stuck now.

I want to forgive myself, but some mental construction won’t work. “I forgive you Janelle.”

Ah, fuck off.

That shit never works. I need action. I will forgive myself by staying unstuck, by laughing at the voice that says “You can’t. It’s too hard. Stay here.”

I tried that, asshole. I went down that road and it didn’t work. I couldn’t get off  the track on my own so life did it for me, and it hurt. I was shattered into a new direction.

I’m responsible for that, too, I guess. New digs and freedom. My own failure to move – literally and figuratively – killed me. But to begin again. Unstuck, one more time.

Maybe I’ll trust better, sooner.

Myself, and life.

The real kind.


sometimes I feel like this.

  • Sheila

    Well. Fucking. Said.
    Thank you.

  • Stephanie

    Our house was killing us, too. But I am still (and always now) waiting for the other shoe to drop. Crappy feeling. I’d honestly prefer to lose that feeling much more than the shoe.

  • Josie

    This post really resonated with me. I’ve always been a “comfortable in my own rut” person. From what food I eat, to what jobs I take, I stick with what I know. I realized recently that while some things aren’t going to make or break me (who DOESN’T like pasta 3 days a week?? Lol), some things were dragging down my sense of self-worth, primarily my choice of jobs. I finally used my son’s birth as a catalyst to quit my toxic place of employment and reevaluate what I really wanted and have some real bonding time with my kids. I’m now a full-time college student working towards a Medical Billing and Coding degree. I’m looking forward to completing college (something that had always been “someday I will…”) and starting a whole new career. A big leap for me, but I’m so glad I finally got off my ass and took my future into my own hands instead of letting others dictate it for me. High-fives and a glass of beer for us both!

    • Colleen

      You chose a great career path! I am a medical coder at a hospital in Philadelphia. Grants me the freedom to stay at home with my brand new baby and feel like I am an asset to my employer and not a glorified intern/bitch (obviously had some recent job insecurities of my own). Oh, and did I tell you I get to stay home with my baby?! Maybe I can answer a question or two if you have them. Good luck to you Josie!

  • Carolyn

    I read this post as I am reading The Gift of Fear which talks about listening to our intuition about people and situations. So empowering. Happy to hear you are finally home.

  • Vicki

    “Action. Finally. Happened.” Best line ever.

  • Bridgette

    Oh how I get this…all too well. I just drew a picture of myself chained to my life, stuck so deep and bound with so many chains that it seems impossible to break free. To become unstuck is what I want, but fear and anxiety are the familiar muck I repeatedly choose instead. I’m a coward and that reality freaking sucks. At least I see myself for what I am right now.

  • aoc

    Maybe that’s why interesting people tend to be on the dance floor at wedding receptions–beautifully unstuck for at least a little while.

  • Marleea Crittenden

    You have expressed the feelings of a victim so truthfully… it is always amazing to me that victims always point the accusation finger at themselves first and foremost…I personally have been a victim via my son… when he was a junior in high school he was robbed at gun point…the effects of this robbery is still felt in our family and Feb. 23 is a date that stands out in my year…I wrote a letter to the judge before the 4 boys (who plead guilty) were sentenced… portions of it can be read on my blog:

  • Heather Thorkelson

    Dude. Seriously. A series of little deaths is truer than true. And one of my favourite reminders of the need for compassion (for oneself/for others) is to remember that we’re all doing the best that we can with the tools that we have at any given time. Thanks for such a powerful story.

    • Carolina

      I think understanding that we’re all doing the best we can, even if we’re sucking, is key. And the second step to that is to LET.IT.GO.

      By the way, I love this: “The way we stay in things that are killing us because at least we feel safe – hang out in the muck and dirt and mire because at least it’s the muck and dirt and mire we’re accustomed to. “

  • Melinda

    Love the brutal honesty. You should connect with Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery and take over the world.

  • Vivienne

    Oh I can so relate. I’ve been in sketchy situations where my intuition is yelling at me yet, Hamlet like, I linger. I’ve had my house robbed, too. It’s terrible. I’m glad you were able to get to the heart of the problem (failure to act, fear of change) and have turned it into a new consciousness. It will help you in the future.

  • Anon

    Thank you Janelle. This really speaks to me. I have a big change I need to make because I know that life is giving me signs that something bad is going to happen. But I am ignoring it too.

  • Alecia

    My husband and I both had items stolen from our vehicles almost a year ago. My husband caught him trying to sell two nail guns (which we were borrowing because we couldn’t afford to buy them), but didn’t put it together right away. The guy had time enough to get rid of them before he was confronted. He was someone my husband knew, both from just growing up in the same small town and from him being a patient in the drug rehab center my husband had worked at. He was arrested and pled out to a very minimum sentance for car thefts and other charges. We ended up having to scrimp together money to buy replacements for the stolen tools instead of using the money to buy our own. We also had to go through changing over bank account information because of some blank checks he also stole. What hurts the most is how I worry if I forget to lock my car, or if I misplace something. They take away more than just “stuff”.

  • Emily

    Oh my goodness, I need to read this over and over. Maybe every day. I’m currently trying to battle this in myself, and I’m in a situation that has already worn me down so much that the negative voice still wins out any time I try to think about change, and it’s so strong that it sends me into a major depressive episode. But the positive voice is becoming able to hold out a little bit longer each time. Like you’re talking about, my gut tells me I need to change. For me, the intuition is that I am going to have some kind of breakdown or have my depression take a drastic turn for the worse (which is saying something, these days, because it has already gotten steadily worse for a long time now). I’m desperately afraid of what I might come to, and I spend at least a little bit of every day feeling paralyzed with self-loathing. It makes it hard to change, but I have a loving and supportive family, so as long as I can remember that I don’t have to do it alone, all that’s left is to remember this advice and I just might be able to make it out. Thank you so much.

  • Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense

    Maybe you didn’t move the second your gut told you to… but you moved when you had to, and that’s something. The flip side of delayed action is impulsiveness… and that has its own set of challenges.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doin’ alright.


  • Colleen

    Thank you, for adding honesty to the internet. As a brand-spankin new mother myself, I frequently (as in 40 times a day) find myself looking to the interwebs for answers. The only meaningful answers I have found so far are here, even if they aren’t much about parenting per se. And they may not really be answers at all, but comfort, that someone can have pretty much all the same damn views and emotions as myself and still be successful as a mother and human being. Thank you.
    P.S. Can your courses be taken online? That would be rad!

  • Laura

    I love this. And it’s so, so true. As a fellow addict, I find it completely mind blowing that we can choose to stay stuck when our lives are literally melting in every way possible. Keep writing 🙂