Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When you've been broken

I was reading the profile of one of my friend's, and his expression of pain and frustration seemed very like my own lately. Lately, as in, for the last several years.

I have felt frustrated of late. So much of once was has been lost, and while I do understand that there are reasons for everything, and I will see this unfold into something wonderful beyond what I can imagine right now, this season is not without its frustrations.

I have fallen into the pattern of getting through the day to day of life. Once upon a time, I was inspired. Life was full of possibilities. Life seemed to be simple. I was not concerned with career objectives or lack thereof, I was not concerned with whether or not I would someday be able to be in a home of my own, living this ridiculous notion of "The American Dream". I was not overwhelmingly concerned with paying bills, despite the bills that were coming in. Stress did not rule my life. Necessity did not rule my life. Life was simple, and somehow or other, I kept it simple. My primary concerns were how the ideas for story and poetry and incredibly creative verse would play out on paper. I did not fear the blank page.

And what changed this? I suppose that I always knew this would change eventually, but I thought that day would come after I settled down and had 2.5 children and did not have time for such things as writing and painting and other creative expression anymore. Imagine my surprise when I realized that this stifled creativity came despite my lack of the things I thought would surely kill such expression.

I feel worn out. It seems that I am going through a time of realizing how very much of myself I have given away since those days when each morning brought new vistas of inspiration. Somehow, I became someone who could easily be bent to another's will, sacrificing my inner most self a piece at a time. Rather, I was always someone who could easily be bent to another's will, only such compromises became more sinister as I got older. In all of the efforts to be one who is loving and supportive and always cheering for the underdog, I became someone whose own identity became lost in the chaos. I became someone who would be easily manipulated by men with sad stories and sweet words, easily intimidated by women who were emotionally brutal but shrewdly kind, allowing people to strip my soul away. Each day became a day not filled with inspiration so much as sheer determination to get up one more time and get through. Not entirely unlike the bloody, battle weary soldier who pulls herself up to fight on through just one more battle...then one more...then one more...with a faint but assured belief (or vague hope) that she will eventually come out the victor.

So, here I am. And who am I? It seems that I have been stripped of the things which have always held my identity. I once found my identity in my creativity. I was the writer. A painter, too, but mostly a writer. Then, I was the girl with all the problems. The mental patient. The recovered mental patient. The girl you would never know was once a mental patient unless she told you. The strong girl who overcame adversities most will never know, in order to do things that were fundamentally easy for so many others. The girl who was living the life she wanted, a life that was not glamourous but very fulfilling. The girl whose life was turned upside down by unforeseen circumstances. The girl who is learning to put it back together. The girl who is a shell of a girl. Not a girl at all, but a woman. A shell of a woman at that.

There is a lot of pain in losing yourself. I suppose there is some freedom in that, too. Maybe it's only when you lose yourself...your false self, the self you thought you were but never really were...then you can find yourself as you really are. As you always were, but never realized. Stripping away the contaminents to get to the purity of what lies within. Getting down to the real deal, the "me" that remains constant regardless of the circumstances.

Against all reason, I do maintain a shred of optimism. I look at this season of loss, and loss, and more loss, and realize that this, too, shall pass. Some of the loss has been wonderfully liberating, and not a loss at all. Other elements of loss, though, are very painful. There is no getting around that.

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