Have you ever felt you were living your life teetering on the precipice of a very steep cliff? And, if you were to fall off the cliff, it would mean losing yourself to an extreme from which you weren’t sure you could return? It’s a very scary place. It’s what I’m living right now. I’m caught balancing between my rational and my emotional self. I honestly feel like I’m going to fall, fall so far that I will no longer recognize myself.
My entire life I’ve focused on achieving goals. I was a student with high standing. I was active in the school community. I graduated from elementary school, high school, college and university with honours. I won awards. I started working in my field only a few short days after I graduated. I married my high school sweetheart. We built, not one, but two homes together, from the ground up. Our plan was to be married five years before we had children. I swear I got pregnant on our fifth anniversary. Now I have two beautiful, wonderful sons. Along the way, I’ve steadily moved up the career ladder of my choice. I’ve achieved all of the goals I set out to achieve up to this point. Now I stand, just a few years into my 30’s and I have no sense of direction. My life has been defined by the pursuit of goals. Without them, I’m lost. I don’t know where I’m going and that’s a scary feeling.
But it’s bigger than this, much, much bigger. I’m only just discovering what it is. I recently experienced a very profound moment of pure clarity. It was powerful beyond anything I can explain. Ever since I had my children I’ve found myself floundering, unsure for the first time in my life. Parenthood has been overwhelming for me. I feel my responsibility and connection to my children intensely and yet, at the same time, I feel disconnected from myself. I’ve had trouble understanding it. It causes me immeasurable guilt and frustration. But I know it’s root now, it comes from being a motherless mother. I’ve written about this before, how my parenting is affected by the fact that I lost my mother at such a young age. Now that I’ve become a mother, I recognize just how profoundly that loss has affected me. I know now what I have been missing. In some ways, it’s been my undoing. Until now, I’ve underestimated its impact.
So now, I find myself balancing on a temperamental cliff. My self, the core of my being, is caught between two halves of myself. My rational, goal attaining, responsibility driven, in control of my life self. The self that took over for me when I lost my mother. The self that helped me to survive when all I could do was survive is waring with my emotional self. The self that is profoundly me. The self that shows me comfort, that allows me to be the mother I want to be, the self that will better balance the anxiety and overwhelming expectations I place on myself. I’m living just between the two and I’m terrified that, at any moment, I’ll completely lose myself to one. It physically feels like I am tipping.
Now that I see it, now that I recognize it, I’m trying to allow myself to feel it, to fully understand this place. I’m trying to find a way to give each permission to be a part of me, to allow each to have their place. I’m crying lots, I’m confused and overwhelmed lots. I struggle almost every day. I think, though, that this is the path I must travel. It’s a bit like what we do for our children when they get a cut or scrape. We acknowledge the pain, we let them cry, and then we kiss it and encourage them to pick themselves up and move on. If I feel it fully, discover both parts of my core completely, and somehow find a way for them to exist together, then maybe, just maybe, I can find the path to healing. I have to. I’m desperate for the peace that I hope will come with it.
Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bslavin/2108982331/ via a Creative Commons license.