Sunday, September 7, 2014

Giving Up and Getting Real

It's interesting to me how people sometimes seem to change when really, maybe, some things have been a fa├žade all along.

Shit's about to get real here.  Hang onto your asses. ;)


I never planned to get married.  I never planned to have kids.  Do I regret doing either one of those things?  Of course I don't.  But when I DID get married and I DID have kids, I was so young.  I was 18 (married), 20 (Doodlebug), 22 (Boo).  I had these ideals and mental pictures of what wifehood and motherhood were 'supposed' to be that I completely buried who and what I actually AM.

When Boo asked to return to public school and when I decided to send Doodlebug as well, a lot of those old feelings bubbled up to the surface, and I realized that for so very, very long, I had been wearing a mask.  Homeschooling the kids was definitely something that needed to happen, particularly for Doodlebug, but with that gone, I felt both free and trapped.

I was free to be who I was… but who was that... and could I still be that person and do what else needed to be done… i.e. could I still do what I was 'supposed' to do?

That one question, with all its multiple parts, sent me into a tailspin and, I suspect, triggered the depression that I battled for months.  It was ugly with a depth that I haven't seen since I was 14 and 15 years old.  I shared some of that battle with you all, and I'm very glad that it's over.  I'm sure it'll come back at some point, but I still have a very solid group of friends who have my back, and I'm grateful for them always.

As I began to question everything, I dug deep.  Very deep.  And I realized that in order to really be happy - truly, unmistakably HAPPY - some very big things were going to have to change.  I realized that I needed to stop apologizing for a lot of things, to begin with.  I've spent years feeling bad for being the person that I am at my core.  And guess what?  The minute I started letting SOME of my feelings out, they ALL came out.

I knew I wanted a job - I had always intended to be a career woman, and while I may not be able to accomplish the same goals that I had when I was young, I can still have a career.  I'm young enough for that.  I knew I wanted to give up some things - gardening, keeping a pristine house (that happened out of boredom before I had kids, and I won't have time to be bored now), and otherwise keeping up with the Susie Homemaker Joneses.  I'm getting rid of my canning equipment, because as much as everyone in the house loves my peach preserves and I did have fun doing it a couple of times, it's exhausting and it's the middle of summer and I like air conditioning more than slaving over a boiling pot!  If I'm still in this house next spring (long story, just go with it… I'm keeping the details out of public arenas, thanks), I intend for some of my income to pay for a lawn service, and they can take care of the garden areas.  I can apparently grow roses by sticking them into the ground and ignoring them altogether, but everything else?  Not so much.  As much as I love the idea of having a gorgeous garden with tons of healing and cooking herbs, I'll never have the enthusiasm to maintain it year-round.  I might grow some things in containers, but even that will be subject to my whims and caprices.

I digress… as I do.

I also realized that I love some things and will continue doing them… on my own terms.  I still like cooking, for example, and want to do that when I have time.  I love love love having people over and going out with my friends.  I even like going to the gym (also when I have time).  I still love reading, and I'll never give that up.

But defining who I am and what I want to do (and not do) means that everyone around me has to get used to this 'new' me… and, of course, sometimes that comes easily and sometimes it doesn't.  I know some people believe that I've lost my mind and gone absolutely crazy.  Other folks have thoroughly embraced my need to come out of my cocoon.  It's been hardest on Oz, for many reasons.

A few days ago, I finally got angry.  Oz was out of town, but he still bore the brunt of it.  I defined exactly what needed to happen over the next few months while I finish my transformation, and I informed him that if he couldn't handle it to let me know.  It might be harsh, but I feel like I've compromised for too many years, and I don't want to do that any more.

So we shall see.  The kids are still happy - I haven't changed much as far as their care and well-being are concerned - and one day at a time, I am becoming happier, too.  The final steps are within reach; we'll see what they are.  It's definitely an exciting adventure, and it's one I'm glad to finally be taking on my own behalf.  It's long, long overdue.


Wendy L. Callahan said...

I'll be honest - I'm happier at work now. Yeah, I embraced being home and I felt my son needed homeschooling too. But with my daughter, I'm not feeling the same joy I did being with her 24/7, so going back to work has been wonderful for me. Of course I love her, but we're a happier family with me at work and the husband at home with the kids while pursuing his degree.

We change or sometimes try to be something we aren't, or maybe experiment with ideas we never quite had originally.

My entire first marriage was me having to wear a mask. But I was sick of it after 15 years, so I am where I am now and happier. I couldn't be the perfect Air Force wife, couldn't pretend to be Christian, couldn't pretend to be conservative, etc.

It's funny how the person I am now is the person I always was - I just cycled back around to the expectations I had as a 16-year-old, realizing I knew what I wanted all along.

Erm, I'm babbling on YOUR post. Sorry.

The point is, I empathize 100% and I applaud you for making the changes you choose to make, for being who YOU are.

Gillian said...

Wow, I completely get this. I also married on the younger side (22), though we waited to have kids until I was 28 and then 30.

I've had some people give me sh!t for working while I homeschool, but you know what? We couldn't afford anything if I didn't, and I still need to be my own person. I fully believe that it is better for kids, in the long run, to see their parents as complete people, not just one-sided, so if you need to let that out, go for it!

And as much as I love the idea of being a back to the earth type, our veggie garden mostly died, I hate canning because it scares me and is hot and takes forever, and I am looking to go low maintenance with our yards.

So see? You are not alone in this!

Sarah said...

Ironically, Wendy, I am the same person now that I was at 16 as well, give or take. We grow up and think we have to be all 'adult,' and we just DON'T! I hope to teach my kids that… I just hope I've caught them young enough.