Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Missing Girl

I don't think people intentionally lose themselves. I believe it's a gradual undoing...maybe the result of something major, maybe the result of subtle issues and conflicts that occur over time, the occasional compromise of beliefs or values that at the time seems to be for the greater good. All of those things and probably many, many more lead to a shift, a transformation or transmutation. It's something that occurs, sometimes so slowly and with such trickery that it doesn't even occur to us that anything has changed at all, until one day, we look in the mirror and are startled by what's staring back at us.

I've been looking in the mirror a lot lately.

It's not just the physical changes I'm noticing, though they are the most noticeable. The increasingly dark circles under my eyes getting bigger, the sparkle in my eyes fading, the frown lines getting deeper, more gray hair. Gray hair and wrinkles come with the passage of time and I tell myself that each one is the result of life experience. But the dull eyes and dark circles are something else entirely. I know I'm tired. That's not a secret, certainly not anything new. I've suffered from random bouts of insomnia for as long as I can remember. This time, though, it's all stress related. And I don't like the type of person I become after long periods of stress. My patience is terribly thin and I become quick-tempered. My tolerance for frustration is nil.

I was driving to the dentist yesterday with a raging toothache, thinking about all of this. It was an interesting drive. The past year has been difficult, but I chide myself, because really, most years are difficult in their own ways and I've made it to where I am in spite of those difficulties. I suppose I'm tired of things being difficult. Just for a while, I'd like things to be a little easier--easier from my perspective at least. I'd like for my time to be my own. The weekdays blend into each other in a chaotic mess of work, chores and more work. The weekends are spent cleaning and doing laundry and grading papers.

I shed a lot of tears in the past 24 hours when I realized that my life has turned into the exact type of thing that I always swore to myself it wouldn' paycheck to paycheck, barely seeing my daughter and missing her so much as I'm running and running to take care of everything that needs taking care of, taking on more work to make ends meet, not feeling valued or appreciated or even just heard in most areas of my life. Or, more accurately on that last point, I feel like I'm often not heard, which then leads to those feelings of not feeling valued or appreciated.

I need and want to scale back so badly. I need to do it and do it soon. One of my dearest mentors told me last week that she's quitting her job in six months and I started to cry--not only because it makes me sad, but because I see her moving forward and living out part of the dream I had for myself. I'm not jealous--I'm happy for her. But I'm hurting for me. It's not her fault, obviously, that she's paid her dues and is now in a position to stay home and be with her children. That's beyond fantastic for her. It just comes at a time when I feel like an impostor in my own life.

I believe that this is all circumstantial, and in a few years, I'll look back on this time and remember that it was hard, but also just one more thing that I got through. I tell myself that it's all character-building and teaching me valuable things about love, life, living and work. But for now, just for a little while, I'll be wistful and sad...and hopefully, that can turn into something more productive and who knows? Maybe in six months, I'll have a new plan in place that will have room for letting me scale back a little.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

If I had a magic wand I'd wave it your way. In a heartbeat. You deserve to have the time to spend at home with your daughter. Life has to be about more than muddling through.