Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Writer's Soul

The humidity is staggering today as I sit confined to my bedroom, one of the only places in our home that actually has air-conditioning.  You have been on my mind a lot, lately.  Yes, YOU.  My lovely, intelligent, sensitive, dynamic, unique blog readers, especially the ones who have stuck with me during my unplanned, unannounced, fade-into-the-ethers blog hiatus.  I love you for sending me private notes, for continuing to check in on my blog, for knowing what I mean when I discuss my "Angel Daughters" in other places on social media.  I adore you for cajoling me, for gently poking at me, and for not forgetting about me.  I am not exactly sure why, but something shut down inside of me about a year ago.  I began to seriously lose/doubt my writing voice and it started to  frighten me…A lot.  I believe that I was born with a "writer's soul" meaning that it feels very natural for me to paint my life in words and for most of my twenties and thirties, I kept that portion of my soul buried deep within my life of domesticated, wedded, maternal, Orange County lifestyle bliss.  I put everything, and I mean everything, into raising my Angel daughters and maintaining a lovely marriage, family and home, but there was definitely a price to be paid for all of that loveliness because when the roles began to shift and I was not needed as much, I did not have a place to turn my attentions to.  I am not at all saying that I would choose a different path if I could go back to those decades when being a wife and mother was more than enough.  I am not even saying that in retrospect, I would have done very much differently because the product of all that I put in is a very successful husband who still loves me deeply after almost thirty years of marriage as much as I do him, and four incredible daughters who really are angels in so many ways.  But, the thing about being in my early(very early) fifties now, is that I do have the luxury of hindsight and reexamination and reconsideration which is forcing me to take inventory as to what worked and what did not work so well.  And one of the things that might not have worked quite so well for me is what I gave up as an individual and as a soul on a singular journey alongside a tribe of other souls whom I adore with all my heart.  It really is not so much about what I gave up because what I gave up in some areas, I gained in other areas tenfold.  It is much more about the things that I did not do for myself.  I allowed myself to get lost in the mix of the lives that surrounded mine(and this includes those outside of my immediate family) in a way that caused me to forget who I am, who I was before I became a devoted wife and mother.  I immersed myself so deeply, so fervently into who I always knew that I wanted to be, that I lost track of my own spirit and the things that called out to me as a singular person.  I lost hold of those other things that define who we are and what we should explore in order to still remain relevant to ourselves.  I completely ignored my writer's soul when I should have taken the time to nurture that part of myself.  I dismissed my own needs as a separate entity when there was someone or something else that seemed more worthy(or more needy) of my time and attention.  I allowed the voices of those around me to drown out that of my own.  I allowed myself to wilt as they blossomed.  None of this was intentional on anybody's part.  It just happened.  I am not placing the blame for this on anyone, including myself.  Self-blame would only continue the pattern and that is something that I do not wish to continue.  I will acknowledge the fact that I became who I am, who I was, because I did not have a proper role model.  My own mother would tell you that she was a "stay-at-home" mother meaning that she stayed at home when my brother and I were in school, and then mysteriously disappeared on the days when we were actually at home.  She would flit around with her friends going shopping or to lunch, never doing anything much of substance.  Or she would send us to camp during the summers, much to my protest…Anything to get us "out of her hair".  It felt like outright rejection to me and although I cannot speak for my brother, I do believe that the effect was even more profound for him than it was for me.  Even my father, who did take the time to show me affection and attention when he was around, often made me feel insignificant by spending so much time away from our family by going on "business trips" and also by pursuing women outside of his marriage to my mother.  He was a very strong father figure but he was(is) also extremely expert at compartmentalizing the different aspects of his life which is something that I realized and understood at an unusually young age.  My earliest memory of this was when I was around eight years old and my dad would bring my brother and I into his office once in a while.  He had a lovely secretary named Jennifer who I was also particularly smitten with.  She was young and beautiful and smiled at my brother and I a whole lot when we would go in to visit.  And even though she was seemingly wonderful, I would get a very strange sensation in the pit of my stomach when she would greet us, for I somehow knew that it wasn't just the fact that my brother and I were exceptionally adorable children that caused her to be so Popsicle-sweet.  She was trying to impress my father.  And as I look back now through much older and wiser eyes, I understand that Jennifer's focus was on my dad and not what pinchable cheeks my little brother had.   I liked her and I felt abject contempt for her all at the same time.  It is sad that an eight year old child was placed in a position that caused so much ambivalence at such an early age.  It is sad that my parental role models taught me more about how I would behave as an adult not through their positive behaviors, but through the selfish behaviors that I would most adamantly try to avoid as an adult, wife and mother.  I became just about everything that my parents, most especially my mother, were not.  Extensibly, I worked very hard to encompass the qualities that my parents lacked the most, so that I would be a good wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt and friend.  I would include my daughters in my social activities.  I would spend summers participating in outings along with my children.  I would be present and not just pretend that I was.  These were the most mindful years of my life.  And yet, like my parents who successfully failed both my brother and me, I ended up failing someone very important too.  Myself.

I am entering my fifty-third year of life as of about two weeks ago.  Even at fifty-two years old, I know that I still have so many lessons to learn, only during this second half of my life(give or take a few) I believe that the lessons will be meant to be more about fine-tuning myself.  My parents are getting not just older, but old, and with their progressing years they are becoming more like abhorrent teenagers who are definitely not as cute as they used to be.  They are teaching me to be much more self-protective and much, much more forgiving…to myself.  I can no longer languish in the self-serving nature of the expectations that they have set for me without also allowing myself to expect a certain level of respect and honor for me, their only child.  I am, I have been, and I will continue to be a good daughter, step-daughter, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, friend, etc. as long as there is the balance of reciprocation in these relationships.  I am not even requiring that the reciprocation be equal, just present.  There will be a lot for me to muddle through as I decide where, when and how the boundaries will establish and reestablish themselves, time and time again.  And if someone wants to be exceedingly angry with me for no valid or apparent reason I will no longer beg for their forgiveness.  I will only forgive myself for not being the person that they would like to try to make me into.  I will float above the guilt that I used to drown in.  I will let them do them, and I will do me.

I will say it here as it will force me to be much more accountable from now on out.  I am going back to exploring my writer's soul.  Writing brings me clarity and balance and peace.  Seeing my own words reflected back at me on a page allows me to feel validated in a way that nothing else does.  It makes me feel heard and uninterrupted.  I cannot be cut short by spasmodic breaks in my train of thought when I write.  And because I am also a good listener, certain people cannot resist the temptation to take advantage of the spotlight that I seem to provide when they inadvertently interrupt what I might be saying out loud.  Writing allows me to be heard without constant fits and starts that cause me to give up trying.  One of my goals is to write a book.  In order to accomplish this, I will have to honor the part of myself that is a writer.  I will need to become more authentic about how I present my own story and if there are certain people who are a part of my story who might not like or appreciate what I have to write about them, then that will have to become a part of their life-lesson, no longer mine.  Maybe it would have done them some good to have behaved better, kinder, more thoughtfully, or more respectfully.  My story is about me, not about them.  We are all adults here.

*If anyone has any suggestions about how to get started in a regular writing routine, please do share them with me!  I would love some feedback about this as a fledgling writer whose wings are still quite wet!

And now, a few photos of the Four Angel's Momma family to catch everyone up a bit!  I promise more in the near future.  I hope that everyone is well!

So happy together. 

Angel Daughter Number Three and my beloved Angel Husband, Mark.
Angel Daughter Number Two and her sweet boyfriend, Justin.  AD4 is holding their puppy Layla Rose.

Angel Daughter Number One enjoying her 27th Birthday in June!

Angel Daughter Number Four is still dancing her heart out!

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