Thursday, October 14, 2010

Submerged

Warning: Reader discretion is advised. There's a lot in here that, try as I might to avoid it, may come off as whining. That is not my intention, but... Well, I'll let you decide.
 
I've been doing a lot of thinking here lately. Somebody asked me not too long ago why I read so much - because, let's face it, for someone who works full time, goes to grad school full time, and is raising a kid full time on her own to then turn around and read 10-15 books a week, well.... that's not exactly normal. And my answer isn't exactly normal, either. I'm compelled to read that much. For a while, I couldn't figure out why I feel I have to be constantly reading - have to have four or five different storylines running through my head. The answer is actually pretty ugly. It's the only escape I have.

For the last several years (almost 13, to be exact), I've submerged much of who I am, much of what makes me, well, me. A great deal of my energy goes into being Jamie's mom, just about every thought and action revolves around him and what he needs, and there isn't much left of me anymore. I know this is the way it usually is when your kid is younger and needs your time and attention. And I love him to death, but... Sometimes I feel like I'm smothering, choking on it all. True, yeah, I'm going to school, and that's all for me - kind of. But so much of my creative outlets are just.... gone. I don't have time to try out for or act in any community theatre productions - and there are TONS here in San Antonio. Acting isn't the only thing I've submerged.

I've barely written anything since I got pregnant. It's like my writing muse got sucked into my womb with the baby. Sure I can still crank out a (short) poem here and there, but all of my stories are gone - just, "poof!" - disappeared. I used to fill notebook after notebook with stories, plays, poems and bits for later inspiration. Now, I have nothing. I tried NaNoWriMo, and failed utterly. I've started so many stories, written from dreams, images and lines that flash into my head - but it's all crap. They all fizzle out within a paragraph or two. I almost feel like my creativity has been surgically removed. But Jamie? I think he got it from me in utero. He writes all the time. Seriously - all. the. time. He has a book he's written - it isn't very long, but it's actually kind of a cute story. Me, I've got nothing, and it's left this big sucking hole inside me that I feel compelled to fill with page after page, story after story, book after book. It's like I've lived so much of my life constantly accompanied by all these characters and situations in my head, and now that they are gone I have to fill up that space with other peoples' stories. Because I'm just not comfortable with it only being me in there.

True, I'm singing again, but that is a recent development. Last year was the first year I had sung in public anywhere in years. It was the first time in a very long time I felt able to do something just because I wanted to do it, not because it needed to be done for Jamie. I really think if I hadn't started doing something - anything - just for me, I would have exploded. But it still isn't all I want - need - to do. Like I said, I love my son, cannot imagine a life without him and the joy he brings me, but I have to wonder, who the heck am I anymore?

Am I the only one? Has anyone else submerged so much of who and what they are that they just don't really know themselves anymore? What if I've submerged so much that I can't find myself again when he's grown and leaves home? Who will I be then, and what the hell will I do?  Go ahead, leave me a comment and tell me if you've experienced or are experiencing this feeling yourself.  Or, if you feel like I'm being a whiny baby and need a swift kick in the caboose, tell me so.  I want to hear from you.

9 comments:

Suze said...

Oh my goodness, Jenn, you are not whining a bit!! Every mother feels this way, at least I know I do. I worry all the time that I'm losing myself in motherhood. I know it's 10 times as intense for you because you're doing this on your own, so I can't really fairly claim to know what you're going through. But I do know what it feels like to spend all of your physical and creative energy taking care of your kid/family that you feel like there's none left for yourself and you find yourself daydreaming about having 20 minutes alone to take a shower and have a cup of tea, but even that feels like asking too much, let alone having time to develop a talent.

For what it's worth, I love reading what you write on this blog, no matter what it's about. your voice is so strong and genuine, and you're so good at finding humor in situations where it's most needed.

Geron said...

your new background makes me dizzy. when i concentrate and try to read the post, the background image in my peripheral vision looks like its moving. its weirding me out.

Tara said...

I've pondered the "who am I, really?" question for a while. I felt really really stuck for a long time. Recently I discovered Color Me Mine and while it is an expensive outlet, it is a great outlet! I felt so free to create and DO something with those creative juices. When I went to pick up my last project (which was only my second and third item made) the lady there commented, "Have you been here before? These are really nice!" WOW!!! I'm still going on that one!

All that to say, I think so much of US goes into the kidlets that it's hard to recover. You have to be really intentional about asking yourself things like "what DID I like to do pre-kid".

Tooz said...

Here's what I have to say on this topic...I'm a fan of John Rosemond, the only child psychologist that I agree with almost completely. The advice I've read from him, time and time again, is that NO parent is supposed to make their child their whole life. Not single parents, not divorced parents, not parents of handicapped children, not parents without support groups, NO parent. It may seem selfish right now to think that way, but the truth of the matter is that your child may never be able to function independently with the background of a mother/father who devoted all their time and creativity to them. They have to learn that parents are adults and have a life separate from their children. They have to learn that this is the way the real world operates, that they are NOT the center of the universe. Isn't that helpful?thsin

Suze said...

Tooz, you're so right. I actually can't stand a lot of what John Rosemond has to say (or maybe it's just the way he says it...), but I think that point you made is totally right.

Joni said...

I just want to join the others in telling you that you are NOT alone! Reading is definitely one of my escapes from reality, and I definitely recognize it for what it is - living someone else's life because mine can seem depressing sometimes. (I'm trying to really be vigilant about the content of the books I read, though, because what they put in my head can really affect my attitude toward real life... Just a side note.) Like you, I'm so thankful for what I have, but it's not exactly the way I imagined it would be, and it's definitely harder than I was prepared for. It totally helps to have honest people like you letting the rest of us know that it's ok and normal to feel this way! My little guy is only 2, so I'm just beginning in the journey try to figure out who I am now and what I want my life to look like now that Mommy is one of my first titles. So I just want to encourage you to keep searching - there's an awesome woman inside you that has so much to give, not just to your son!

But seriously, you read that many books in a WEEK, as well as working and keeping a home and mothering?!?!!?! Do you ever SLEEP??????

Animal said...

Just "ditto" me on a bunch of the above comments, okay? (Except the background thingy: I love the leaves!) But, in terms of losing yourself: sure. Been there. Easier for me because I have 1) a parenting partner, and 2) a full-time job, so I'm out of the house AND I have someone to pick up my slack. Someone to allow me to get away a few nights a year and be a total bum. And that kind of escapism - whether it's getting away to play cards, or reading a gajillion books - I think that's okay. Probably not to the extent that you forget WHO you are…but, if you've always been a reader, chances are you aren't forgetting. Just…forgetting WHO YOU NEED TO BE most of the time. And that's okay. I think. *shrugs*

Jessi said...

First of all, love the new look!

Secondly, honey, I think we've all be there. You have to take time for you, you have to do something that makes you happy and you HAVE to do it now.

It's good for you and good for your sanity, but it's also good for Jamie to see you live, like really live.

Hugs and I love you more'n my luggage.

AnnaMarie said...

Jenn,
I think that how you are feeling is soooo completely normal.

Hang in there. Do for you. Don't feel bad. It will be better for both you AND Jamie.

<3 and hugs.