Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Same = sane = sad
To be honest, I’ve been feeling sad for a while. A long while, if I’m going to be honest. This is something that really jumps out at me as I read my old journals (something I’ve been prone to do of late) and when I allow myself to be seen by dear friends who share that they see a certain melancholy.
Looking back, there was always a reason for feeling down. There was the stress of unpleasant working environments, overwork and too much travel (usually manifest in chest infections, back problems). There was always the heartbreak that would follow a broken relationship or even a disastrous date (no matter how funny in the retelling). There was the pressure that came with organising a wedding, buying a house, planning for a baby’s arrival (though of course these also came with considerable joy and much celebration). There was my thesis, a seven year commitment requiring considerable courage and focus (albeit in inspired bursts).
I could lose myself in, and hide behind, all of these things. I successfully ignored the recurring signs and avoided dealing with the underlying themes, only stopping to pay attention if complete exhaustion overwhelmed me. Then I tried all sorts of things to try and “fix” how I was feeling, some good (exercise, Traditional Chinese Medicine, reading, blogging) and some not-so-good (alcohol, impulse spending, pushing people away).
It’s only really now that I have stepped away from those old ways of defining myself (my career, my studies, my social life, my appearance) that I can see the underlying sadness that has been there all along. The space to really explore this was largely precipitated by becoming a mother, which required stepping away from my work identity (and all the politics that dominated it) and tying up all other projects. This “pared back” existence was something I was really looking forward to, even though I knew it would be no less demanding. The new space created also enabled me to explore writing, blogging and art-making in earnest.
All of these much-beloved and greatly enjoyed things enriched my life immeasurably and brought me closer to myself. But in the process, they also made me feel more vulnerable. And helped me see more clearly how the role I’ve been playing in key relationships has helped perpetuate the unhappiness I’ve been deflecting so long.
I don’t have the energy to hide any more.
It’s time for a new way to define myself, to tell my story.
Like many of my friends, I’m usually a bit wary of anything that has “goddess” in the title, as it suggests an ethereal quality that I can’t quite tap into (and, truth be told, am probably slightly wary of). But the Jean Shinoda Bolen book, recommended by my pal Monica, really spoke to me about the rowdy and uneven “conference” that happens in my head each time I face an obstacle. Although I was a little confused about the apparent passivity recommended in some passages of the book, I see now that Dr Shinoda Bolen is more likely suggesting a measured approach, waiting out the initial reaction and creating space for deeper wisdom to blossom. I see that “doing the work” is my main task now and I know it will feel harder before it gets easier. I have so much support in this from my husband and my dear friends (especially those of you who commune with me in this space).
I see a growing desire to reclaim my own story, rather than having it written for me by my day job, by my studies, by my family, by ways I have traditionally done things.
It’s time to become the heroine of my own story.