I’m 40. I’m a mom, and I’m a wife. Beyond that? Crickets. Seriously, though, I know that I like to dance, I know which foods I like and dislike, and I know what music, movies, books, and tv shows I enjoy. But my “self”, who I am outside of my roles of mother, wife, etc. is a complete mystery to me. I have strong morals and values, and a fun personality. But goals, dreams, aspirations? They were abandoned along the side of the road as I journeyed into adulthood, many many miles ago. So long ago, that I forget when I saw them last, and no longer remember what they looked like. And the worst part is, I didn’t even realize this. For years! Decades!! I sacrificed myself without even noticing! I’m so grateful for the beautiful life I’ve had, but for the better part of the last two decades, I was so focussed on being a supportive wife and super-mom, that I forgot – whoops – that I’m a person, too!!
It hit me just a few weeks ago. I got news of an unexpected day off from work. It was a very welcome surprise. I’d have the house to myself, and I could choose to do whatever I wanted with *zero* interruption. Beautiful! Insert an angelic choir…”ahhhh!” Anyhow, the day came, and what did I do? Same thing I do with all of my free time: I made a to-do list of housework and maintenance that would take a month to accomplish. It’s what I do. I’m sure many moms do the same. But as I set out to begin my list that morning, it hit me like a punch to the gut. No one was making me do these tasks. In fact, most of them were an absolute unnecessary waste of time. And this is my pattern, my habit, my routine. Only worse, I realized. It is my defense mechanism. I stopped scrubbing, Magic Eraser in hand. I CHOOSE to fill my time with these pointless tasks. Why? It’s a strategic, albeit unconscious, distraction. If I fill my day with the golden stars of a tight production schedule, I can avoid thinking about what I might WANT to do. And I was avoiding that thought because I have NO FUCKING IDEA what I might want to do. Thud. Ooof. Gut punch. My to-do list served as shield from the futile question “what the hell do I want???” I don’t have to reflect on my loss of self-identity if I busy myself in menial tasks and find joy in the sense of accomplishment, right??? Ugh. Barf. How did I let this happen? And for so long?!? I have no freaking idea how to actually enjoy myself. How to be me. WTF?
Does this sound familiar? I can’t be the only one!!!