In the past three months I lost 25 lbs, got an IUD placed, bought (and was gifted) a whole new wardrobe (and even some new jewelry and shoes), tried in earnest to make some new friends, started a new blog (and shut down my old one), enrolled in a writing class and created a new nom de plum. I didn’t notice it at the time, because the decisions were made months ago and the time it took for them to manifest was considerable, but these were all related. It took months for the weight to come off, to make an appointment with my GYN, for me realize I liked how I looked enough to buy new clothes, to choose a URL and start a new blog, for my writing class to finally start, to decide on a new writing identity. None of these things happened quickly, there was careful deliberation involved, and a lot of work. So maybe it’s not so ridiculous that I didn’t see what was happening into recently, when it all became so glaringly obvious.
I have been trying to reinvent myself.
The problem is, I’m not sure who I want to become. And I’m floundering as I attempt to figure it out.
There was already a shift happening. What spurred all this change was organic, really, the obvious next steps as I moved away from a massively transformative time in my life to whatever comes next. The past six years have been all about building my family, but after my son was born we decided we were done having children. As I got to work reclaiming my body, I ceremoniously stripped my wardrobe of the maternity clothes I had worn (or held on to) for the past five years and got down the pre-pregnancy staples I used to love. Most of them were from before I had my daughter and were dated, both in the general sense and in the way I see myself; they just didn’t seem to fit with the person I’d become after so many years of family building and parenting.
It was a theme I started seeing everywhere.
A lot has happened in the last six years. We bought a house, had two kids, got married, and made professional commitments. We set ourselves on a certain track, made decisions about what our future will look like, and who we want to be moving forward. After my son was born I felt like I was setting out on path of the rest of my life, that the decisions I make now will determine my direction and ultimately, where I end up.
I enrolled in a creative non-fiction class because I wanted to focus on my writing. I started a new blog to attempt blogging with a new intention. I made plans with potential friends in the city to fill the gaping hole in my social life. I bought new clothes to present a more polished version of myself. I got an IUD to formally distance myself from family building. I did all of this with purpose, with the future in mind. In the absence of building my family, I set about building my new life. Without the wave of change that family building provides, I tried to paddle myself out of the doldrums.
Except all that paddling is exhausting. I am struggling. Considerably.
The friendship explosion didn’t help. That bomb went off right as the wave of the last six years crested. At a time when I was least sure of who I was and what the future might hold, someone close to me decided they didn’t want me in their life. That wave hit when I least expected it, knocked the wind out of me, dragged me under the churning water, and spit me back to the surface, gasping for air. I’ve spent the last few months determining my orientation, trying to figure out where the shore lies.
For all the intentional choices I made setting out, I now feel lost. Without my trusted agents to guide me, I am floundering. Right now, at this critical juncture, I’m totally and completely unsure how to proceed. I doubt myself, and my choices, at every opportunity. I have no idea if my efforts will eventually provide adequate returns. I consider going back to my old ways of coping, even when I know they don’t suit my situation. I long for the familiarity of my old life, the habits that felt comfortable, even as I recognize they are no longer relevant. I just want something to be easy.
Because writing here? It’s not easy. Keeping up with my writing class? Is really challenging. Making new friends? Is terrifying. Even laying out a nice outfit every night is starting to feel hard. None of it is familiar. None of it is comfortable. But I am committed to doing it all because I’m terrified of where I’ll end up in ten years. I’m scared shitless that all this paddling will just take me farther and farther out to sea, and I’ll look around one day and realize I haven’t seen land for years and years, that there is no hope anyone will ever find me.