Dear Mommies of Young Children, and You in Identity Crisis,
Sometimes it feels like parts of you are in danger of being erased. I remember how that felt. I know how lonely it was to not have my entire self known and acknowledged, to have a huge chunk of my history blocked out because I had immigrated and morphed into a mommy. Or because I had succumbed to the day-in, day-out existence of a desk drone. Sound familiar?
Fourteen years into marriage, I left my husband and set up an apartment. I had married at 23, and hadn't ever lived on my own before. I hadn't even balanced a checkbook or paid household bills. It was exhilarating to learn to do those grown-up things. Fortunately, I was confident and competent on the job and able to support myself. It was just my at-home self that needed an extreme makeover.
All my feelings of newfound independence and wholeness came to be embodied by the objects that I assembled to create a haven for myself. I confided in my marriage counselor that I was unwilling to give up the apartment when my husband and I fully reconciled five years later. I was frightened that I would be swallowed up again in the misery of not being known, of being treated like someone's appendage. What she said proved true: Once you are strong, you won't need these outward reminders. They are props.
This is what my experience has shown me: You are not in danger of losing yourself. You will always have, and always be, everything that is you. You will carry it inside you, your past innocence, your present angst, your aspirations for the future. Later, even when you think who you were and wanted to be is long gone, long forgotten, because nobody has, for years, cared to see you for who you are—even then you will still be you, beautiful, exceedingly wise, aware. An even more amazing version of yourself. You will share bits of you like buried treasure, only with the deserving, only when you choose to, only when they are listening and not talking above you. You will not need to be constantly affirmed by external sources, not by souvenirs of your past—not even by your spouse, nor your children, as fiercely as you love them. You define yourself.
Love and blessings,
This is a post that began as a comment on Joy Page Manuel's deep, thought-provoking blog, Catharsis. Read her post here.