A lot has weighed on my mind in the past year or so…namely, why my entire outward life feels contrary to my deepest, innermost desires and inclinations. I’ve been talking with a very wise man regarding it all and tonight I had nothing short of an epiphany that I now feel compelled to write about.
Perhaps a brief rundown of some background information would be helpful first.
Like many people, I didn’t grow up in the happiest of homes. My father was an abusive alcoholic and my mom had her fair share of emotional problems. My sisters and I were dealt a difficult hand, and fortunately, we’ve been able to rise above these harsh beginnings (for the most part) and make decent lives for ourselves. For my sister, this has included a Ph.D and for myself it has been my beautiful children and the ongoing dance of motherhood.
But this is not to say that I haven’t made mistakes. I’ve failed at too many things to count. In fact, apart from my role as a mother, I can’t honestly say that I’ve done many things right or well. I have an almost pathological tendency to excel in different areas, but in the end, at the moment of commitment, I quit. Jobs, school…other things. And I’ve never known why I do this, except that (apart from my commitment to being the best mother I can be), I can count on this about myself; that I will inevitably quit, in good standing, before I ever have a chance to succeed at something.
So my epiphany, with the help of a truly exceptional psychotherapist, is that much of what I do and have done in my life is a protest. It’s a ‘fuck you’ to the world. And of course, it stems from the anger that I came away with from my difficult childhood, when I was vulnerable and mistreated by the people I should have been able to trust and rely on.
Here are some examples of my ‘protests…’
- Quitting college after being accepted (based on a manuscript of my poetry) into an elite class that would have allowed me to mentor beneath a celebrated poet.
- Quitting too many jobs to keep track of, and in every instance to my employer’s shock and dismay.
- Quitting esthetician school in San Francisco with less than two months to go.
- Cutting my hair into the shortest, most gamine style possible, despite the fact that my husband dislikes it, as most men would.
- Getting a fairly conspicuous tattoo on my right arm.
- Having three children back to back, nursing for six years and attempting to homeschool my kindergartener and preschooler.
- Perhaps even my recent embrace of a rather extreme form of minimalism?
So there it is. Many little protests. Many ‘fuck you’s.’ And in the case of my children and even minimalism, perhaps a little bit of ‘I will do this…and I’ll do it in spite of the incredible difficulty and self-denial that such a lifestyle requires.
Clearly, I need to spend some time thinking about all of this. I need to somehow transform that energy into something new and better. I’ve played that card, and now that I realize it, it is time to move on. But how?
I’m curious, how many things in your life are little protests?