“I just want to be…me…and when I can, I will.”
From the song Mayonaise by The Smashing Pumpkins
It has been a hot minute.
Earlier this year I started a series for this newsletter and on my blog called Mandy Myths in which I committed to sharing five internal myths or misunderstandings I’ve been wrestling with. I shared the first one mid-May: “I don’t know how to do it” followed by myth #2 in June: “I’m not good enough” and then I went quiet.
Myth #3; “I need (spouse, parent, boss, etc) to agree with me and validate me in order to be ok, loved, enough or worthy” was supposed to come out in July but I literally just could not.
I couldn’t write, I couldn’t wrap my brain around why I couldn’t write or what to say about that, I couldn’t see the myth clearly in my head and so I did what I do and just…didn’t. All summer long. I just didn’t. I couldn’t. I was wrestling with life, fully committed to not consenting to my reality.
The pain point of my summer can be summed up in four words:
NOTHING IS THE SAME.
I can be a master of pushing on, moving through, pretending as if and getting on with the show in the midst of crisis. It’s when there is calm and quiet that I truly struggle. So when I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure last December, I went into crisis management mode and dealt with it until the next thing came up and then I moved along as if nothing happened. I had a son and a niece living in my home, preparing to graduate high school this Spring, so I managed all their Senior activities and responsibilities with joy and excitement celebrating their accomplishments and new found freedom!
But then they actually graduated.
And life moved on.
I got a little sad.
And I wasn’t feeling physically well.
I got a little scared.
And I couldn’t pretend anymore.
Denial was no longer an option.
Nothing was the same.
For the last 22 years I have had at least three kids in school at a time. One epic year I even had one in college, one in high school, one in junior high, one in elementary school, one in preschool and a baby! This past school year I had four kids with four different schedules in three different schools across two different school districts. I was in my car more hours a day than I care to count and the job of keeping everyone on task and on time was enough to keep even the most experienced mom on her toes. But with two graduating, the identity I had of being the mom of a crap ton of school age kids didn’t fit anymore and something shifted. Yes, I’m still the mom of a small gang of humans but most of them don’t need me in the same day to day capacity as they used to. Now I have a 15 year old who splits time with their other home and a 10 year old. I basically have one and a half kids to be responsible for. Who even AM I anymore?
I joke about it but it really has thrown me for a loop. Add to that not feeling physically well and as a result having to break denial about how unwell my heart still is and I have been a bit of a mess.
Only now in real time am I realizing that this is part and parcel of the myth of needing outside validation and approval in order to be ok, loved, worthy or enough. Without the identity of The Busy Mom of a Million Kids, who even would I be to still be valid or “enough”? I’m sure if we were having this conversation in person you would be quick to remind me that I’m worthy of love merely by existing, but I’m willing to bet that you have an identity that solidifies your purpose, and in effect sometimes your own perceived value to the world too, right?
What comes next?
Where do I go from here?
I’m not through to the other side of this myth quite yet. I can tell I’m living through a snowglobe moment, one in which my world was gently shook upside down and the snow is settling in all new places, just as it should be, right on time.
I can feel myself still partially looking for Aaron to tell me what to do next or for the world to assign me a new identity I can attach my value to. I want an esteemable title or a role or purpose that is clear and concise and something the outside world sees as worthy of praise or payment or ideally, both. Because that would be the quickest, most simple solution, wouldn’t it?
As the proverbial snow is settling in new places though, I can’t help but feel a longing amongst my grief for what was and my fear and apprehension of what’s to come. I feel a rising up of a piece of me that I tucked away a long time ago, clawing her way out of a clearly defined cocoon preparing to stretch her long legs, draw a deep, new breath and grow wildly into a new space in this world I’ve created.
So here’s to new spaces, whatever they may be, however they come about and the irony that myth #4 is the lie that I have to do it all by myself, for myself.
Are you feeling that ache of what now, what’s next and where do I go from here? Are you telling yourself you have to do it all yourself as well? I would love to hear how that is showing up in your world right now. If you’re in a space you feel like sharing, send me an email at email@example.com and it will come right to my personal inbox.
Maybe we don’t have to figure it out alone. Maybe we’re both about to grow wildly into a new space. Wouldn’t that be something?
Until next time, do good, be good and if you can’t do either, just don’t be an asshole, that will be enough for now!
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