Thursday, April 19, 2012


It seems to come out of nowhere. The sinking feeling in my stomach. My worst fears  come to life. There is no hiding from the truth this time. No avoiding it. This is really happening. This moment that I’ve dreaded for months. And yet, as the pounding in my head starts and my stomach knots up, I also realize that I am not really surprised. At some level, I knew this was coming. I was waiting for this moment. My intuition was right again. (Damnit!)

I know I should listen to my intuition. It’s never been wrong. At least not about the big things. Sure, I might have an “intuition” about whether my favorite football team will be undefeated this year or not and I could be right or wrong about that. But when my intuition really speaks to me, it doesn’t lie. No matter what it is – life, death or love.

Too often, the things my intuition tells me aren’t things I want to hear. I don’t want to know that my friend is ill, that death and grief will soon be part of my life again. I don’t want to know that my friend or lover has betrayed me. I want to hide my head in the sand, pretend everything is okay, avoid the pain that this moment of truth will bring me. Because it will be painful – it will hurt. It will take time to heal, it will paralyze me, it will force me to change somehow.

And yet, sometimes, my intuition tells me good things. Hopeful things. When I realize that this person I just met is going to be a wonderfully significant addition to my life, and could change me in ways I can’t even imagine yet. The knowledge that a lifelong dream may be on the verge of coming true is powerful stuff. It’s still scary and gut wrenching and sometimes a little paralyzing, but in a good way.

How do you know when to listen to your intuition? How can you tell when it’s just your own fears and hopes and you’re over-projecting them to avoid acknowledging the truth about a situation? Just trying to stay in denial a little longer? I certainly don’t have the answers. I do know that I am braver about listening to that voice inside when it’s telling me good news instead of bad. However, I also know that my intuition has a good track record of being right about the bad news.

Maybe intuition is my heart and soul’s disaster warning system? Danger ahead! Prepare for evacuation or battle! Will you run for the hills or stand up and fight?

Several years ago, my best friend Shauna was coming home for a visit. She’d just announced her pregnancy so we were throwing a shower for her while she was home, because we knew we wouldn’t see her again until after the baby was born. She got a call from her doctor the morning before the shower, asking her to schedule another ultrasound as soon as she returned, because “there was some unusual things on her last exam, and they just want to be sure nothing is wrong.” When she told me this, my heart sank, but we put on our happy faces and helped her get through the shower. In the coming weeks, we’d learn more about Trisomy 18 than anyone should ever have to. Jackson was stillborn some weeks later. Intuition=1, Sheryl=0

A few months after my best friend Rochelle’s symptoms started, and shortly after her first hospitalization for uncontrollable pain, she called me after a doctor’s visit. “They found it,” she said. “It’s cancer.” I know that none of us were surprised – at that point, we all suspected it. But to hear the words so clearly made my heart stop. It’s cancer. From the moment her first symptoms appeared to the day we said goodbye was less than six months. Intuition=2, Sheryl=0.

Can you blame me for not wanting to listen to my intuition sometimes? Why bother – it’s just going to tell me bad news – why not put it off to the last possible moment? But I’ve found that when I do listen to the warning signs, when I face it early on, when I acknowledge that I’m scared, it somehow makes it easier to face. I know that Shauna appreciated us being scared right along with her – that it helped her when she had to face the worst news an expectant mother could face. I know that I’m better off having faced my worst fears when Rochelle was sick and dying, and that my life is, in the long run, richer for having been so involved in her last months of life. For standing next to her as she faced death, even when it was the last thing I wanted to do. Those moments were painful, they changed who I am. But I think that having my intuition warn me ahead of time helped me prepare. It helped me face the facts with my warrior gear on.

Looking at it that way, I think I'll take a moment of intuition over a blindside any day of the week. Don't make me wear my emotional armor 24/7. Let me take it off for a while in between battles. My heart and soul appreciate the rest. May your intuition guide you and protect you too.

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