Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I often forget that I have choice. That I am not relegated to mother, worker, partner, do-er. I place inordinate amounts of pressure on myself to keep the balls in the air, to have all the answers, to keep the train on it's course.

While this may sound like control, trust me when I say it's colored a bit differently. For me, it's shades of self definition, of shame, of insecurity. As if I truly MUST do these things in order to retain my worth. That if I don't keep my agreements, I will be letting others down. And that is something I have a very hard time doing.

Lately I am tipping the breaking point. I am no longer able to keep myself in order. I am frayed at the edges and coming loose at the seams. I've lost my creativity and I fear my passion is next. So I poured a large glass of red wine and tried to explain myself, through tears, to J-Dog tonight. His solution was to skip over what I was feeling, and to focus on what I can do. Change jobs, move, and so on. Good ideas. Really. Let me get right the fuck on that, right after I am done falling down.

Unfortunately, that is not what I need tonight. So I've taken my big glass of wine, shut myself in a seperate room, lit some candles, and turned my thoughts inward (and to you). I am listening to the Innocence Mission, a band I haven't turned on in a decade. And I am remembering who I used to be.

I know that I am not stuck. I know I will find my way. What I yearn for is the inner courage to push the magic button and step into the void. The unknown next road, perhaps less travelled, or maybe crowded along the way. It doesn't much matter and that part is rather sweet.

I am going to be shaking things up, as it's become a matter of survival rather than desire. And once I wrap my arms around it, I know I will be able to embrace it for the journey it is. And I'll share the love.

But tonight I need to be still, and cry, and be afraid. Morning will come soon enough.

I can't thank you all enough for your response to my last post. What an honor to be amongst all of you.
I am in awe - and you remind me that we can change the world, or at least kick it in the shin on the side of good.


Anonymous said...

Awwww.....hang in there.....
I do know how you feel.
I tend to get 'lost' in the day to day and forget who I am...I find I need new projects and so on..new focuses.

After feeling sorry for myself first.

And remember...choice isn't the same as making your bed and sleeping in it......

You have to constantly shape the world you want around you.....you may choose a job or to stay at home or to parent in a certain way..but you gotta work at it and make it your own.

Does that make sense?

crazymumma said...

I am going to go out on a limb here...
you work in a very giving, taxing and emotionally stressful job.
you have a very small child.
you are a wanderer at heart.
you are emotionally attached to the world at large in highly sensitive ways.
you spend alought of time blogging.

Breathe, spend your night ruminating. You cannot do it all all of the time. Try to be content with good enough...

It will all settle down. The next time you will be better prepared....Wish I could be there to share a big glass of wine.

Thailand Gal said...

Jen, I am impressed with all you had to say and can also understand why you feel overtaxed. If you'd like to blog this subject, I'd be curious to know what you mean about "jumping into the void". What does that mean to you?

I like what Crunchy Carpets had to say ~ and would extend that just one step further. Sometimes what is right for us at one time stops being right for us when we go into another phase of life.

Sometimes moving on is right ~ sometimes revamping is right.

As one who "stepped into the void", I can honestly say it was the only thing I could do to survive.

Thailand Gal


Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding completely selfish (like you need to hear that for starters), I am amazed, everytime I come here & it is like you have crawled around inside of my brain & hand picked & embraced every thought I've been having.
Day-to-day is a drag. And the thought recently occured to me that in all of my wandering, I had lost 'myself'. That the young woman I was years ago (though I am still relatively young), I let go of to satisfy a myriad of other people. I sat down & realized that the person I was then got lost along the way and is still, to some degree, who I am. And that I desperately needed to get back in touch with those fundamental elements of who I am.
I've also come to the realization that by 'shaking things up' as you say, is an adventure for my whole family. And that, by feeding MY soul, I will be, in turn, feeding everyone else's that I come in contact with.
Stoke those embers baby. We love your fire!
Lots of hugs & good vibes your way, sweetie!!!

Momish said...

I'm having that glass of wine with you hon, both literally and figuratively (white wine though). With each sip, I wonder, I ache, and I hesitate. After reading this post, I am not sure if it will help you or hurt you to know that I have valued reading your blog and looking to you for guidance and insight, for purity and wisdom.

Choice is a word I live by, being an existentialist at heart. Choice is freedom, with the chains. But, there is something wonderful and right about choosing your own chains. I wouldn't have it any other way. I know you are there too. Enjoy your wine, tomorrow will come soon enough.

And, I need to let you know. You are the subject of my post tonight. It was suppose to be tomorrow's post, but I think it goes well with my wine and thoughts tonight! Hang in there. Please!

Z said...

Sometimes good advice for the future is not what you need at the present. Support, comfort, and a little practical help are the immediate needs. More than that can be too much to think about.

I hope you feel better today. You put a lot of yourself into loving your neighbour, do remember to love yourself just as much.


Joker The Lurcher said...

so much of what you write rings true with me. the way my life has gone has made my geographical horizons shrink quite a lot. in 1988 i travelled round the world alone. nowadays i rarely get as far as mainland europe.

but in my head things have broadened and solidified and grown. having an autistic child has given me huge richness that i would not have changed for the world.

i suppose what i am saying is when you evaluate your life (and i mean when one evaulates ones life rather than you personally!) it is important to see the really good things that are often very small but very important. often the work, or whatever engulfs us, masks the small but precious pleasures of life.

i was signed off work with stress recently and one day took the dog down to the beach. i bought a cup of hot chocolate and sat watching the waves for half an hour and felt more content than for a long while. my normal day to day life does not have half an hour for me to be alone with my thoughts. how the hell have i let it get like that? i have to be ill to have half an hour to myself!

jen, you need to take some time and space to be still and quiet.

sending you big cyberhugs and positive vibes from rainy sussex.

Anonymous said...

You sound like you've got a handle on it, even as you fall down. Been there before, and gotten up again, right?

Your words resonate in me, too. "shades of self definition, of shame, of insecurity" - I think I'm putting that on my stickie today.

I've been trying to get a handle on how I can believe in the intrinsic value of every person and yet feel so insignificant myself. But, YOU, as crazymumma says, you've got yourself spread thin in places that are all demanding.

Rrrrooaaarrr! That's you, coming out of your cave. Whenever you feel ready.

Lucia said...

Your post is thoughtful and poignant, and the comments already here are so full of wisdom that I hesitate to leave a comment.

Like you and others, I've been here too. I wonder sometimes what keeps any of us from flying off the trajectory that we're in, off into a completely different space. The more I've thought about it, I think it's choice. We choose to do and not do certain things based on their merit, how they will affect people around us, whether they will hurt or help us, or how they weigh on our scale of moral ethics. Ultimately, the heavy truth is that our days add up to our lives, and what do we want to do with them? I've had to shake up my own life lately. Bring back music from my youth. Get silly. Get a tattoo. Go ahead, shake things up.

I want to offer you comfort. It will pass, but we need to go through.

acumamakiki said...

On the verge of tears this morning, I read these words and feel comforted and also scared. My partner hasn't heard what I've been saying, he's caught up in trying to give one word answers to my issues, as though a word or a sentence can fix what I'm feeling. And I resent because I'm not heard.
I wish I had an answer and can only offer an ear (or an email addy) so you have a place to talk, even if you feel like you're not making sense.

ECR said...

It sounds like big things are on the horizon. Best wishes in following that skyline.

Stephanie T. said...

"And I am remembering who I used to be."

I'm trying to do this, too. It's so easy to lose yourself in the roles of wife and mother.

Great post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us.

Anonymous said...

I have felt like this a lot since becoming a parent. The one thing that has helped me frame it or give it context is thinking about not only the birth of the children, but the birth of the idea of myself as a mother. The birth of this NEW identity and the difficulty I'm having understanding its interplay with the old me is really hard... perhaps harder than the birth of the kids or their addition to my life.

Anonymous said...

Come to my blog right now. I have a present for you.

Penny said...
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Penny said...

My parameters used to be a solid brick wall, now I live inside a big thick rubber band.

My time-management previous to Oee was all mine to manage, now, the unforeseen has proven time truly relative.

I used to walk to my closet and pick out what I wanted to wear, now I pick out what is clean.

I used to start projects and mostly finish them, now I can't remember what I've started at all.

Coffee used to be a good excuse to take a break during the day, now it's a morning requirement.

I used to write creatively and stroll aimlessly with my camera. Now, I scrawl to-do lists on the backs of crinkled reciepts in my pocket, as I rush out the door with a pre-determined destination in mind.

I used to be dynamic and mysterious and whimsical and fun and now I am Mom.

I used to listen to ear-bleeding bands at ridiculous decibles, now I ban them from Oee's earshot and in turn have become softer and more selective in my CDs.

I used to be spontaneous and good to go when the phone rang on a friday night, now if the phone rings at all, I'm usually already asleep and it's probably my Mom.

My sense of style has become normalized to the point that my defining quality is the newest extend-a-lash I splurged seven dollars on and somedays I look in the mirror and think, 'maybe I'll put on some mascara, but first I better wash off the mascara from the night before that I was too tired to remove that has run under my eyes.. oh wait, it's not washing off, oh wait.. that's not mascara - those are bags.'

But, I used to drink a lot of beer, stay up late and live soley for my indulgant self. Now, I drink a lot of milk, get up early and watch with amusement, enthralment and joy, as my legacy continues, which has been created in part by and is simultaneously in thanks to, the modifications listed above.

I think mothers are the same all over, basically.

Make sure you take time for yourself, but don't sweat it. Things have to change and rearrange and become more pliable.

Never in all my years would a load of laundry ever be left spilled out on my couch, I've had all our whites on the arm rest for two days now.

It's just balance and priorities. And, it's stressful and frustrating. And, you do need to find time for you, because your day will be nothing but a 6a.m.-midnight shift of consecutive errands and chores.

You need to enjoy yourself and not lose your identity, but restructure yourself. It's a transition that takes time and irritates a woman for so many reasons, but once you find your niche in your new role, you'll be great.

It's soul-searching and soul-searing at times, but, in the end, if you make that little bit of effort to realize yourself, understand and listen to yourself, it will becomes very worth it. As necessary as it is to compliment and encourage your child, it is necessary to do right by your own self, as well.

Your child will emulate you and you will be her mentor and idol, until she's slamming the door in your face over hormones and half-tops and half-pipe riding bad-boys, and if you are a stressed out Mom, she'll see that and feel it. Do it for you and you'll see your efforts rewarded in everything around you.

It's not selfish to get your toenails done or to take a break to write a story or to go for a walk or to have a beer at four o'clock in the afternoon at a pub all by yourself with a newspaper or a book. It's nearly impossible, but it's not selfish. And, you try to squeeze a pedicure between rush hour nad the grocery store, as long as you can manage your environment to accomodate this, understanding that it won't always happen, but allowing the possibility. And, with your J-dog, I think this would be possible.

Schedule yourself into your own life and know that those spots will stretch and divide and sometimes disappear but sometimes multiply and sometimes you will enjoy them and sometimes you won't and sometimes they will cost twenty bucks and sometimes they won't cost anything at all, but you need a reward and your reward is getting to know yourself all over again.

You sound like a person worth knowing.

Reintroduce you to yourself, because the old you is banging on the door and she can be welcomed in for a makeover or you can dismiss her in the meantime, but she won't go away, she'll just keep banging, until that is all that you can hear.

Watch a good movie and have a good cry, buy some expensive panties, try a little meditation or prayer for half an hour before bed-time and continue to write out your thoughts.

And, I highly, highly recommend budgeting for a massage at least once a month. Highly recommend it.

These things too, shall pass.


Blessings to you, you and your family are in my prayers.

PS.. "...shades of self definition, of shame, of insecurity" - this is a beautifully succinct summary.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when you are sad.

There was a time in my life when I wrote in my journal " I feel like my life is just happening to me and I am watching from a distance, unable to speak up for myself or stop anything."

I agree with crazymumma - you give all day in a way that most of us can't fathom, then at home, and what is left over for just you?

Like many others who have commented, I have found the cure in doing something soothing and mindless. Disengage from the world at large for a little while. If I were closer, I would help you -promise!

meno said...

What everyone else said.

And i know how it feels to be advised instead of listened to. Sometimes i have to tell the Mister directly that i don't want suggestions, i want his ear, and his understanding.

penelopeto said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
penelopeto said...

it is the fallibility of men that they think that they have to fix every goddam thing. sometimes we are not looking for solutions, only support.

that is what we are here for. anytime.

hope the funk lifts soon.

Nancy said...

It's hard to feel like you have a choice when you are trying to keep all the balls in the air, isn't it? And I know J-Dog meant well, as SOs often do, but sometimes we don't need someone to "fix" things for us (especially when the fixes involve more work in the interim.)

So I hope that glass of wine and solitude helped last night. Also know there are others of us out here struggling with the same thoughts, and here to help you with your journey in whatever ways we can.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's unusual for people to forget that they have choices in life. It's far too easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day stressors and to essentially lose control over the direction our lives are headed in. It usually takes a conscious decision to stop torturing ourselves and choose a different path. I sense that you are going to be 'stepping into that void' you speak of very soon.

I myself stepped into that void almost 4 years ago. I was miserable and stressed; I hated my job and the direction my life was headed in. So, after many, many soul-searching nights, and many tears, I jumped. I quit my job, I threw everything I owned into storage or got rid of it, and I took off for Europe for a long-summer of traveling and then a 1 years master's programme to give myself time to find 'me' again and decide where I wanted to go from that point. It was the best thing I ever did, because it was during that time I met my now-husband, and I now have a lovely little boy and another one on the way. I wouldn't have these loves of my life if I hadn't jumped.

I wish you much luck on your own journey.

Mrs. Chicky said...

I raise my glass of Sauvignon Blanc to you, my friend. I'm having the same type of day (okay, month, I'm having the same type of month). When you shake things up would you mind sharing your shaking secrets with me? :)

Lillithmother said...

What do you say to someone who has come to you needing her glass of life to be refilled? You help her re-fill it...

I heart Jen.

Put all these hearts in your glass sister and see if it doesn't tip it over...


PunditMom said...

Jen, you are expressing so much of what I feel right now. I've been thinking a lot about how to fulfill all my "obligations" without ripping my hair out or without losing my self.

R. is a wonderful, but demanding, child. DH is a wonderful, but demanding and sometimes clueless, husband. And while my writing is going better than I had expected it would at this stage of the game, somehow it is still not the fulfillment I had hoped for.

I'm trying to lay off the wine (for caloric reasons), but I'm having some nice red wine tonite in your honor.

Yes, I made the choice to have this life, but at 40-??, I keep wondering if this is it? My hope for this year (I just had a b-day, so I am thinking the new year nust started), is to re-evaluate.

Thanks, as always, for a post that seems to be channeling my life!

flutter said...

Thank you for sharing so much of you. In your darkest moment, know that you have touched so many people.

Her Bad Mother said...

I'm so late to this post, because I've been havign my own bad week, but it's never too late to express empathy and solidarity, right?

So here goes: I hear you. LOUD. And am hugging you, virtually, hard.