Stark Realization

Last week I attended the performance of a new play, written by a young playwright, at the university.  I won the tickets while listening to my local NPR station, and took my oldest daughter who is involved in theater.   It was an enjoyable evening.  The company was good and the play was engaging; a mix of a vision quest and amusing family interactions, and the production was fresh and interesting.  It was performed in the round in a quite cozy theater with few props or costume changes and no intermission.  The story was both otherworldly with the mythic journey elements and down to earth with the comic relief provided by the young man’s family and best friend but it ended on a sobering note.

For me the sobering note arrived before the end of the play – I was watching the actresses and actors in a dance scene, marveling at the clear enjoyment, dedication and passionate engagement they portrayed when I was suddenly struck, pierced by an insight.  I realized that I no longer have any expectations that I will ever again feel so involved, so engaged, so passionate about any endeavor in my life.  I was truly blindsided by this painful realization. I quite lost track of the action onstage for several minutes as I turned this over in my mind.  It made me see that these hard years have worn me down from the inside out.  My focus is on getting by – I often find myself thinking, “I just need to live another 10 – 12 years, till the kids are in college and on their way; I just need to hang on another 10 – 12 years.  I have no dreams or aspirations for myself; I just want to see them successfully launched and then, well, that’s sort of where my story ends.

It’s funny – a lot of people have commented on how positive I’ve remained through this tough journey and I’ve responded with something along the lines of “What else am I going to do? You can’t give up; you have to keep moving forward!”  I do believe that but I’m beginning to see that I’ve fooled myself – the forward movement is all for the kids; somewhere along the line I gave up on me.  Interesting, and as I said, a sobering realization.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to do with it.  Can one rebuild an eroded self?

This entry was posted in breakdown, breakthrough, choices, Family, Future, growth, hope, hopelessness, journey. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Stark Realization

  1. Revanche says:

    This was something I wondered and wished for my mom when she was experiencing depression and anxiety brought on by our financial problems laid on top of her other chronic medical problems. For her, the answer turned out to be no. She couldn’t get past the fact that she had to lean and lean very heavily on me to rebuild some foundations in their lives. I hope for much better for you: that you start to find more than just the basics for yourself are enjoyable and find beauty around you again.

  2. Betts says:

    I’m 30, and I just had a melt down when I realised that not only have I given up on my dreams, I don’t even really know what they would be anymore. Travel? A career? A world record? If I won the lottery, what would I do differently? Stop working, that’s it. Somewhat over a year ago, my partner and I started trying to conceive and my father was diagnosed with cancer for the again. Neither of those things went well and it’s been a horrible year. Somewhere along the way, between quitting my career-job in Far Away and finding make-work Down Home which almost pays the bills, between learning to knit so I can make baby things and accepting it’s not that easy to make an actual baby, between cancer wards and fertility clinics, I’ve wound up so focused on what needs doing now and what other people need that I’ve stopped even thinking about what I want before I compromise. I can’t even tell you what I want for dinner most of the time – it just doesn’t seem like that desire is going to be relevant, so why bother shaping it, nurturing it?

    Your post really struck a chord with me, and I am very grateful for this space to confess, anonymously, and to see other peoples’ suggestions and affirmations. I really hope an eroded self can be rebuilt, and most of the time I believe it can, too. I can’t suggest how, unfortunately, but I suspect that when things get a bit less shit – when life hands a little sugar to go with all those lemons – it might happen naturally.

    Good luck.

  3. Is there any way you can get low cost or free counseling in you area? It sounds like you are depressed and in need of someone to talk to. I have been in and out of therapy for a while and it has helped me with whatever I am going through at the time. Just a suggestion.

  4. Rachael says:

    Well. I just turned 50 and it ‘seems like’ I have met my life goals, mostly. I ‘should be’ happy and fulfilled. But I am not. I have the usual aches and pains that are the reward for having kept on this long, nothing too drastic yet but.. I have developed this habit that I am not too fond of but can’t seem to quit: I have probably 20 good years left. 20 years, maybe, to do whatever else I ever want to do, before I feel like I will be too decrepit (I have some incipient health issues of various types which I feel may eventually overtake me… and too, I just worry. I really hope I’m wrong!)

    You are not alone.

    I need to think about this. Great entry.. hugs to you.

  5. Morgan says:

    “Can one rebuild the eroded self?” Yes. It won’t be easy. Have you ever read Pema Chodren? Maybe the next time you’re at the library you can look for “When Things Fall Apart.” Start small, maybe with a gratitude list?

    Also, whenever I am feeling like I’m about ready to give up, this video helps me:

  6. Marianna says:

    Can you build on an eroded self? Yes, I think many parents have to recreate a life for themselves after kids. I think you will find there is a you buried there and waiting to grow like a seed.
    I think it’s a lot of things – situation, age, being a parent. I usually feel that I am taking care of my kids rather than myself, but they are all teens now and I am finding time for me. But often feel too tired to use that time. My mother’s death a few years ago has me feeling I am wasting what time I have left with an unsatisfactory job. I think you’ve hit on a deep feeling many of us have, but are too busy to think about.

  7. Sydney says:

    “Can one rebuild an eroded self?”

    YES! But it’s hard to imagine while you are at the survival stage. Consider Maslow’s heirarchy of needs – it’s instructive. You don’t have the base level covered – you can’t worry about self fulfillment without having your basic animal needs met.

    But don’t lose (more) heart. We are adaptable and when you do manage to get to a safe place, you will again find yourself.

  8. Lynn says:

    I don’t think it is just financial; there is an age aspect to it also. Other friends my age (which is just a bit older than yours) are noticing the same effect, and so am I. Retirement or just anticipating it can also do it but there are so many things I just physically cannot do any more. I look at the weeds in my yard and I know my back wouldn’t take it, my knee either, and the arthritis in my hands. I don’t learn nearly as fast and I forget a lot more. The construction workers have not whistled in a long, long time, and the lines on my face that used to mean I did not sleep well, now are there all the time. I don’t expect moving forward; I am just trying to hold my ground.

  9. Cranberry says:

    Yes, an eroded self can be rebuilt.

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