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Vulnerability, Pushing Limits, & Things I DO NOT Want To Talk About. ~ Cheryl Levadney

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Ok folks, you must know right off the bat I am feeling super vulnerable as I start this contemplation and am asking you to hold some patient and compassionate energetic space for me. Thank you.

I need to be super honest. A part of me does not want to write any of these words today. I usually do not know what I am going to write about until I sit down to do it. Why would I even sit down then? Because I am being prompted to. From who? My Higher Guidance. My Heart. My Soul. Spirit. Something so intense inside whom I cannot refuse even if I tried. I make my coffee, I sit, I take a breath, and I start writing.

Sometimes I get an inkling of an idea the night before and I get excited about the notion, never really knowing where it is going to actually go. Last night, nothing. This morning I woke at 3am…and I mean wide awake, like I needed to get something done sort of energy…the intensity was building…and the part of me that wants to slow things down was apprehensive…that’s new. I brush my teeth, let the dogs out, I do some yoga because my body needs to release some of this momentum…really me just procrastinating the inevitable. As soon as yoga was complete and I am lying in savasana pose, I was hit with it. The topic of today’s contemplation. And I start crying…WTF. First, what am I crying about? And second, it is a subject that obviously I am sensitive about and didn’t even realize. And third, WITW am I gonna say about it???? I want to stop right here. Ugggghhhh!

Ready? I am not.

Fine. Here it is.


Now what. I have had a weird relationship with money. That’s all I want to tell you. I am being prompted to say more, and my sassy defensive teenage part is telling me how stupid this is and that I should quit immediately. I know.

I started earning money when I was like 12 years old, babysitting for a neighbor, ironically my childhood babysitter - love you Peggy! - It was easy, her boys were usually in bed…basically, I got paid to watch TV. I took on other babysitting gigs as time passed. I am going to be honest; I didn’t love it. I have 5 younger siblings and didn’t love having to be in charge of kids. I didn’t know how, and they wouldn’t listen, and then I would get mean. I don’t like being mean. My siblings may disagree with me. I don’t like being mean. Shit rolls downhill. I wasn’t taught another way. Mean is not my nature. It was a last resort, a defense, a desperation. I was a child myself. Anyway, I wasn’t mean to the kids I babysat for money…the mean was to my siblings. I am deeply sorry; wish I knew at ages 8 ~ adolescence what I know now.

When I turned 14 years old my parents allowed me to get my driver’s license…mistake…but they needed me to drive my siblings around. Also, a work permit. Because my mother’s philosophy was if I wanted anything other than what she provided I needed to go get a job. First official job - Comfort Inn as a weekend housekeeper. My mother had trained me for that position my entire life thus far. Perfect. Money, license to drive, and a vehicle. A taste of FREEDOM.

I am trying to not sound like I am bashing my family when I write these contemplations. I am not. I am grateful for everyone and everything I experienced in the past…NOW. Not then. Then, I was hurt, angry, and wanted nothing more than to escape it all. I pushed everything to the limit. I pushed myself to the limit. I made scary choices that would make any parent absolutely insane. I always knew my limit. I knew when to quit…but not until I reached the edge. Maybe that is why I am being prompted to take on this topic today. I have come to another edge. A limit I am not familiar with, and I don’t know what move to make next. And this time I am scared. Fuck. There it is…the tears. Fuck.

What is the edge? What limit have I hit? First, back to my story.

FREEDOM is addictive. The rules had been so strict, the words “no” and “what do you want” had been used more times than my child brain could bare; it was like being stabbed in the heart when I would finally get brave enough to ask. So when I was able to work more hours at the age of 16 years old I jumped on it. I didn’t have to be at home, I could earn more money, and money meant I could buy and do what I wanted as long as I was home by whatever curfew was in place at the time. Coming in hot. My dad would tease me that the tires were smoking when I would pull up. I was home on time. My grades were usually straight A’s. My family would no longer be able to dictate my life outside of those 2 things any longer. I worked at Perkins, as a waitress. I was damn good at it. My family had trained me well, my dad would call me “Doris”, I hated that name. I worked for a “yes” answer as a child. I worked for tips as a waitress. I really wanted that yes and I really wanted money. Like I was planning an escape. The more I worked, the more cash I made. The piles of one-dollar bills next to my bed kept growing. I even remember buying dishes and other household items and storing them away…so weird. I had been kicked out of the house 3 times before the age of 18. I probably deserved it. I had gotten cocky, mean, disrespectful. I was asking for it. More FREEDOM. And I got it.

I was 4 months pregnant when I graduated high school. I couldn’t tell anybody, except my mother, and one friend I trusted. I was super afraid if my school found out that I would be kicked out and not able to graduate. I was scared. I had to tell my mother because I needed her to call me in sick the first hour of school almost daily for about a month due to the morning sickness, we blamed it on my hypoglycemic episodes I had as a teen. She lied for me because she also knew the consequences; see, I went to a catholic school, getting pregnant isn’t allowed. She had said to me in anger when I was 16 years old that I would be a slut and on welfare the rest of my life…at the time I was so hurt, so angry, I don’t remember what I said but I remember taking the ceramic art piece of Mary, Joesph, and baby Jesus with the dried folded palm from my wall, throwing it in her direction and said something to the effect of it being better than being like you. That moment came back to me the moment I found out I was pregnant. Fuck. Well, I had to prove her wrong. And I did.

I worked my ass off. I had to borrow money a lot. I had gotten myself into a shit load of debt while I was in college. I wouldn’t have been able to make it any other way. My family helped me raise my son while I went to school and worked. I didn’t live with them, but they helped watch him at night while I worked. As soon as I turned 19 years old, I went to go make the “big bucks” waitressing and bartending at the Ground Round…it was a popular place in the late 90’s early 2000’s! And I made bank. And I was still damn good at it. Due to the amount of debt I was accumulating, I would never make enough. It seemed the more “freedom” I gained the more entrapped I was becoming. It would never end.

Baby daddy was not in the picture and would not have been able to help financially. That story for another day. I am not in the mood to go there. I eventually met my daughter’s father. My now ex-husband. I was 25 years old and had been a single mother for going on 6 years. A friend of mine introduced us. I was finishing up the last semester of my senior year at MSU and considering moving to Colorado to peruse a master’s degree…or just a new life. He had a respectable job. He helped carry my shit and held doors open. He played video games with my son. He kept things clean. He proposed and agreed to adopt my son. Good enough. I accepted. The friend who had introduced us was one of my bridesmaids. As the wedding got closer, she knew I didn’t love him and that it was a mistake…and she asked me why I was marrying him. I didn’t have a great answer. I look at it now and know that it was for survival. All of it.

I stayed in that mode until I couldn’t do it anymore. I had completely lost myself along the way. Yes, I was able to make some small steps towards my future, but I had put myself in another damn cage. We were now in more debt than was tolerable. I worked a few social work jobs, but we know with only a bachelor’s degree and 0 years of experience you are not making any money…truthfully, I made more money at the Ground Round. I was able to get my Master’s Degree at UND before we got shipped off to Germany. What???? Fuck. I was so depressed. My son was depressed. We were leaving everything behind. I wouldn’t even be able to put my degrees to use. Two and half years later I return to the states with my son and my baby girl in my arms. Thinking maybe, just maybe things would get better when we got back to North Dakota. I just needed to get home. So I took a job at the State Hospital and lived in Jamestown…I truly appreciate my boss and colleagues at the time…also my daughter’s daycare providers. Other than that, I hated the work and where we lived. I was still married but he was TDY in the desert for 6 months prior to leaving the military. We hated each other. I survived in Jamestown for approximately 2 years. And then a job opened up in Minot at the Human Service Center. I was on it. My boss had been so good to me that I felt terrible about wanting to leave but I think he knew I didn’t belong there either and said he put in a good word for me…see I didn’t know he knew…Minot called Jamestown…I guess they know each other…I was so naive.

I was offered the position. We moved in with my parents for like 6 - 8 months because we were in so much debt we couldn’t afford 2 mortgages. Had to wait for the Jamestown house to sell before buying a house in Minot. When all was said and done I filed for and was granted a divorce in 2012.

I was done living in survival mode. My son…14 or 15 at the time says to me “Mom, when are you going to be done with this? You better figure this out before she figures out what is going on.” He was referring to my daughter, she was 4 years old. We had just had another argument. This was the second time my son had saved my life…metaphorically of course. First time was getting pregnant with him…I had to grow up, take responsibility for another human life. Second was that moment when he pulled me out of survival mode.

I then proceeded to clean up my mess. I am now 35 years old at the time and I have a huge mess to clean up. And I worked my ass off. I cleaned it up. I worked 2 jobs until eventually taking a leap and going into private practice making enough money to work just the one. I worked on a credit program to clean up my credit cards. I was blessed enough to receive student loan forgiveness by working at the Human Service Center. It took me 10 years but everything is paid up except for my mortgage. I drive a 2008 Honda Ridgeline. I won’t open another credit card. Loans of any kind would need to be carefully considered. I cannot go back in the debt cage.

Today, I am 3 days shy of my 46th birthday. Last year I left what I thought to be my last “cage” behind. I had dreams that I was sure were going to happen. And they haven’t. My Higher Guidance assures me that everything is as it is supposed to be. I don’t have much of anything to show for it. I am down to my last dollars in the bank. I have zero dollars in retirement. I have zero dollars invested. Sure, I have items to sell but nobody wants my shit…or they want it for free. I spent so much money over the last 30 years. I worked my ass off and then I literally gave it all away. I left nothing for myself.

I am at the edge. I am at my limit. Everything I have attempted to move forward is stopping, falling flat. The eleventh hour is freaking me out. I am really trying to be brave. My Heart is so full of love and vision and wisdom…and nobody seems to want it or care. I am wondering who will take a chance on me. It is the first time in my life I truly don’t know what to do next. I am being told to trust and have faith. I do and I am still scared.

My Heart is completely healed. I am no longer angry, I am no longer hurt, and I am truly sorry to those who have been hurt and angry with me in the past; please know, I was doing the best I knew how at the time and couldn’t see past my nose. I have learned more lessons than this post has room for. I love my parents. I love my siblings - despite what they may think. I love my children. I believe in happy endings.

I know I want to stay happy. Despite being flat broke and deciding if the next move is to sell my house, I am surprisingly calm and I am the happiest I have been my entire life. Can I have both? Money and happiness? Something that is not going to steal my freedom? - I just got myself back this year - I can’t let her go again. I don’t need a lot. Just enough to pay my mortgage and utility bills and maybe travel a bit. I would love to see the world.

I am waiting for my next move, next opportunity to show up. I am ready. My slate is clean. And that is all I have today. No words of wisdom here, and not even sure the point of sharing any of this. But I am going to trust what I am being guided to do.

If you have read this far. Thank you for holding that patient compassionate space for me. I am not sure how to end this time, so I am just going to sign off.

Always with Love & Gratitude,


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