Saturday, September 25, 2010


photo by Luke taken on our 3 year wedding anniversary

It took a pregnancy hormone fueled emotional meltdown to get me to write today. The meltdown was last week, but the takeaway lasted.
So here I sit, eating gummi bears that should be hoarded for potty training rewards and wondering where I begin...
I am not yet 30. My nails are chewed down to the quick, my arms are freckled, my toenail polish is chipping off. My breasts are striped with the marks of 4 pregnancies: 2 failed, 1 in process, and 1 marvelous failure of a successful labor and delivery winning me a gorgeous ball of 3 year old boy. My heart is criss-crossed with the slashing scar of the heartbreak of a divorce before 25, the myriad remnants of a thousand cutting remarks made by a man who was also to young to be marrying anyone, the deeper wounds of a high school relationship fraught with screams and fists and emotional terrorism and yet there too is the soothing balm of marrying my best friend in the world...1 year after I ended my first marriage, the healing over of those old wounds at the hands of a man whom had seen me through the initial injuries, who loved me despite my trauma. My long brown hair has been purple, has been less than an inch long, has been salted with silver since I was 19 and I have permanently marked my body with ink 10 times, I will do it 10 more times before I am finished with that particular obsession. I am legally blind without my glasses, I wear no jewelry except my wedding ring. I have been a million different people in the last 5 years and therein lies the breakdown.
I have been daughter: once
Sister: once
cousin: dozens upon dozens of times over
wife: twice
mother: spoken aloud only to one, but felt 4 times over yet.
I have been Christian and Liberal and Feminist and Friend and Lover and Confidant and Mentor. I have been student and teacher. I have been lost and found, Sane and Mentally ill.
I have worn a million labels, been a million things to a million people and last Friday, on a non-descript hot September day I lost track of who I was to myself.

Does that even make sense?

I have come to believe that the feminine spirit in us is what makes us elastic, capable of survival, of bending and curving and not ripping in two. There are some who have been blessed (cursed?) with it in abundance, some have just enough so that the inevitable changes in life (moving to a new home, meeting new people) don't cause them to go catatonic. I am a fairly stretchy individual.
And that has given me no end of grief in this life of mine of late.
I stretch to be the wife I think my husband wants, needs, longs for. I twist to be the mother my son needs, the mother society wants me to be. The Christian the church wants me to be, who God wants me to be. Dutiful daughter, available friend...
I stretch and bend and change and 5 years after taking an incredible risk to end a toxic way of life, I begin to believe that I am 1/3 the person I once was. That who I was, before my divorce, before my son, before leaving school was this vibrant impassioned individual and who I am now is bland, colorless, simple: mommywifegirl.
I have stretched right out of myself and into a person I don't recognize.
I wrote a letter to a dear friend trying to capture what it was I was feeling:

I read old correspondence and I can picture myself writing the things I wrote to all of you but I can't seem to muster up that energy in the woman who is typing these words to you now. As though in becoming more still, in releasing those vicious whispers that made up my specific brand of crazy, I also became thinner, paler, less like myself. And when I try and bring that old me back to life it feels forced, it feels knocking on the door of a room you know is empty. What's more irritating is that I find that after a bit of rumination I am perfectly fine with this "less than" version of myself...and that just pisses me right the hell off.
I try not to compare the two, the woman I was had completely different circumstances than me...And I try and remind myself that the woman I am, is just that: who I am. End of story, somehow it seems less than comforting.

This hollow sound echoing back was what got me weeping the other day. The thought that I really was less than who I was. A shadow of my former self, so to speak.
I began thinking of the titles we give ourselves and how we start to limit ourselves within them and the barriers get tighter and WE're (the real we, the we under all those layers of people) squeezed almost out of existence.
I wept and raged and Luke sat by me and rubbed my back and waited it out...
And eventually I stopped because I realized that I have chosen to be here and that there is benefit to that. There is a big difference between sleeping with a new person every weekend and being so vulnerable with one person you can't imagine sleeping next to anyone but them for the rest of your life. There is a big difference between staying out all night just to see where the adventure takes you and the adventure in watching your kids face light up when they discover something new. It's investment and understanding the arc of one's own narrative. Because who I was has built who I am. That passionate, angry, fuzzy woman I was laid the foundation for the passionate, still, focused person I am. I have earned my sorrow through all the experiences that led me here but I was forgetting about the joy that accompanied it.
There is nothing "less than" about growing a family, nothing less risky or passionate or lovely than choosing the a life for yourself that is made up of good things...even if sometimes the good things seem a little bland. A little everyday.
We have to handle the repetition and monotony as gracefully as we can, and when the pockets of brilliance come, indulge. Because truly that's all anyone can ask for.


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