As the months pass, I am becoming increasingly reserved. I used to be a very social person; but, now, I am not overly interested in interacting with the people around me. I am not compelled to engage in superficial conversations because it distracts me from my own thoughts. My identity was intimately entwined with Mike; therefore, when I buried him, a piece of me was essentially buried alive. Seventeen months ago, I lost myself. And, now, I am grasping to redefine my self identity.
In order to do this, I need to withdraw and delve into myself. Now, I am quiet because I am constantly participating in an internal dialogue. As I attempt to re-establish my identity I am endlessly searching my Soul to discover who I am. Countless thoughts swirl around inside my head as I work to redefine myself and rebuild my life. I am completely exhausted from all this thinking. And, most of the time, I feel unsettled in both my mind and in my heart.
Recently, I have eased up on the continuous planning and over-thinking. I have reduced the amount of time I spend arranging ideas in my head because I realize that the best thing I can do is step aside and let the plan unfold. I am more relaxed because I am certain everything will work out exactly as it should – regardless of what I do or don’t do. Endlessly shifting thoughts and ideas around in my head will not serve me well in the wake of Mike’s death. Finally, I understand that I need to do less strategizing and worrying. I simply need to have faith and enjoy my life as I am re-routed toward a future that is different than I had planned. Thankfully, I am no longer lacking faith. But, now, my latest conundrum is that I am lacking passion…
I feel completely underwhelmed these days. Since Mike died, I have been unable to authentically dig back into life. I am not excited about anything in particular. There is nothing that gives me a thrill. Currently, I have zero zest for life and this feels unsettling to me.
I have all sorts of plans swirling around in my head; but ,most of my ideas are just scattered thoughts bouncing around in my mind. I can’t seem to decide on anything. I think about pottery courses and I contemplate painting classes while I drive the kids to school. As I stand in line to order my coffee, I wonder if I should buy a piano and start to play again. Then, I contemplate writing a book and changing careers as I fold the laundry. As I stand unloading the dishwasher, I think about selling the house and travelling the world. Then, randomly, as I lay in bed at night, I think that maybe I should embark on the El Camino de Santiago. As I lay awake, deep into the night, a part of me also thinks about selling everything and buying a Mercedes camper van and driving across North America while learning who I am. Clearly, I have passionate ideas. I just do not have the capability to decide on anything at the moment.
There are many lofty ideas that excite me, but I am scared to action my plans because I can’t just think about myself. I am a mother with children under my roof. I do not have the luxury of just plunging ahead with my big, bold make-shift plans. I have purposefully and carefully created a life in suburbia. My kids have the structure and routine they require. For the most part, life is good. We have what we need to get through the day. But, I want more. I’m not satisfied living without passion.
The responsible adult in me knows that I can’t abandon everything we have established just because Mike died. But, I worry that I am slowly losing more and more of myself as I continue to live in the shadows of my former life. I continually ask myself if I can stay the course and find contentment in suburbia again. The life I shared with Mike is over and living on the outskirts of that life is difficult. I am honestly not sure if I can move forward without putting some distance between my old life and my new one. I don’t want to stay where I am and accidentally recreate some kind of cheap imitation of my life with Mike. In order to fix the pieces of me that broke when he died I feel like I have to be bold when recreating myself and my life. I feel like I have to get out of my comfort zone. The fix I need is more than a pottery class can provide. I can’t simply buy myself a piano and heal my Soul. I can’t paint my way out of this emptiness. I know in my heart that I need to really shake things up.
I daydream about selling everything and moving far far away and completely reinventing myself. But, how do I possibly satisfy the yearnings in my heart when I have children to raise? Are mothers even allowed to think about pursuing their dreams if that means putting their needs before their children? How can a mother heal her Soul in grief when there are so many parameters around it? I think and I think and I conclude that I can’t win here. If I stay put, and change nothing, I feel that I will only ever feel mediocre. Sometimes I feel like my emptiness might swallow me in my current life. Yet, I also feel like I can’t begin to initiate any bold moves because it is not in the best interest of my children. It would be selfish of me to drag them along on some loosely planned trip across the country to find myself. I have no real destination and I don’t have a solid plan. My kids deserve something more secure. Besides, even if I could convince the kids to come, I couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t regret it. I’m a lost middle-aged woman, the ways in which I’d attempt to find myself would likely not interest my teenage sons.
And, really, searching for myself is something I need to do alone. I don’t really want an audience for this exercise in self-discovery. But, how can a good mother just pack up and leave when she has children to care for? The answer is, she can’t. And, I can’t go either. I can’t abandon my kids. I have a responsibility to my children. And, the desires I have to drastically alter my life will have to wait. So, here I stay, living my life without any true passion. And, to add to it, I feel so guilty saying that I am without passion. I love my kids with all my heart, so why aren’t they enough to heal my brokeness? Why can’t the kids be my passion? Why can’t raising them and loving them be enough to fill up the emptiness that exists inside me since Mike died? Why can’t I just accept that I must finish raising them and put my desires on hold? Why can’t I just be happy for all that I still have in my life? Why do I feel like chasing down adventure? I have so many questions. And, I don’t really have a lot of answers at this point.
I feel incredibly guilty for suggesting that my kids are somehow holding me back from pursuing the adventures that my heart and Soul crave. But, I have always written from my heart. And, in my heart, I want to set out on an adventure. I want to walk down streets with names I’ve never heard. I want to order a meal in a restaurant where I can not read the menu or speak the language. I want to feel the sand between my feet in a far away country, on a beach where no one knows my name. I want to be free and drift wherever the wind blows me. And, in truth, I am not even sure if an epic adventure will heal my broken self; but, I know that it won’t hurt me. In time I will find out… And, until then I will just keep these thoughts quiet in my head.