Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Deconstruction of Me

There is a point in the life of each person when they gain the courage to start closely examining the parts and pieces of what makes up their own self, and the even greater courage required to toss out the unneeded things that hold them back and keep them from growing. Self reflection can be an exciting and terrifying business.

Eventually, as I realize how many of my assumptions and pieces of "me" are dependent on the unwanted bits, large portions of who I think I am come into sharp and glaring focus all at once. These moments are often akin to having the proverbial rug yanked out from under my feet, leaving me disoriented and searching and off balance. The domino effect of realization is dizzying and humbling and numbing, and, if I fail to quiet my heart in the moment, can leave me scrambling for a scrap of identity to hang on to.

I start to feel like Tevye, the main character of Fiddler on The Roof as he shouts in a moment of introspection, "One little time, I pulled out the thread, and where has it led? Where has it led?" I'm torn between the comfortable "used to", yet called at the same time towards the irrevocable pull towards growth and stretching. It hurts. It is a great, great struggle. Change is the ripping apart long held assumptions and notions that have brought me comfort, pain, belonging and rhythm. The roots and tendrils are woven into all the experiences and assumptions I gained from them, for better or for worse, and losing them blasts away all semblance of equilibrium in my "self esteem".

I don't know if I can change. I don't know if I'll ever be "happy" again if I pursue it and fail to catch it. The prospect of growing beyond my limited understanding and capacity for living and love sends shivers of delight and dread down my spine. What if I can't catch it? What if I end up depressed and self-loathing? I feel so alone and ill equipped.

But I'm not alone. As illogical as it sounds, I truly believe myself accompanied. I have to believe in my heart that the Caller of my soul is one that I can trust. That
someone will be there at the end of the journey, following me, empowering me, comforting me along the way, as I allow myself to come apart and be scrutinized by gentle eyes. That the core of who I was when I entered this world will be retained, and that I won't be lost all together in the deconstruction.

I'm too exhausted for particulars, and I don't really require platitudes or consoling, because I've passed the point of any of those things being useful. It's a journey, and against almost every splinter of my being, I'm taking the next few steps.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Missing the Boat

One of the biggest pitfalls of being a researcher and "activist" seems (to me) to be getting so caught up in the excitement of learning all one can about a subject, and never realizing the knowledge in real life. My own life is no exception. I'll admit, to my chagrin, that I adore theorizing and discussing and grappling with a beloved idea to the nth degree while completely ignoring it's application in my own life.

I'll believe a concept in theory, I'll even be wildly passionate about it, but because of my personality type (INFJ), I tend to dwell in my head a lot. The knowledge and wisdom and passion I have for a subject sometimes never translates well to my actual life. It's an embarrassing Achilles heel to have, especially for someone who enjoys knowing a concept inside out. Similar to the "the cobbler's children have no shoes" phenomenon. I loathe it about myself, and try my hardest to stomp it out whenever I recognize it, but I've come to realize that personality weaknesses are generally lifelong chores that need constant attention. I'll always have to question myself: how are my ideals lining up with my life?

Just one example: trying to live gracefully towards my husband and children, and not cultivating adversarial relationships within my family. I can talk about it ALL day long, know why it's imperative, even brainstorm practical ideas and applications, but, at the end of the day, if I'm approaching my family in a way that says, "You'd better do what I say, or else!", I've completely dropped the ball and missed the point of all my "study". Until I can lay down my scholar cap and take up the towel of a servant leader, all those wonderful thoughts are rubbish.

Sometimes, it's painful to step back and view yourself realistically with the measure you treasure and find yourself woefully short of the mark. It's so easy to have a good handle on the letter of the law, and totally miss it's heart in your own life.

So, the pruning begins. Sometimes it means the painful removal of things that aren't "evil" at all, per se, but rather things that distract and clutter my life and keep me from having room to put my own feet to the fire. It's tricky for a theory loving introvert to hop out of her own head and allow the grace that her head loves to permeate and saturate her life in every way. It sweeps me out of my element, and off my feet. It forces vulnerability and failure and humility that I'd rather shy away from. The journey from book wisdom to heart wisdom is dangerous and breathtakingly exhausting. It invites opportunity to be exposed, to laugh with those around me, and to dispel my safe belief that knowledge alone fortifies and sustains.

And that's a very beautiful thing.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Baby #3. Thoughts.

I'm noticing and being reminded that there is a distinct difference for many women in carrying their third child. It's interesting.

I'm much more exhausted this time around. More prone to panic attacks and insane worries. Feeling more disconnected and less excited (mostly because I don't have *time* to explore my feelings about this baby).

Physically, I'm SO sluggish in the supposedly "energetic" second trimester. I started experiencing round ligament pains at 5 weeks, and Braxton Hicks contractions at 14 weeks! Everything is more, and sooner. More acne. Sooner sleep discomforts.

And, honestly, everything is ho-hum. There's not the giddy excitement of "first baby". There's not the busy research to have a better birth that I had with baby #2. To be sure, I'm so excited to meet this little one, and I wish I could only slow down for half an hour to think about it! But there's no slowing, and no time to ponder. I feel drained and humorless.

I don't really put it down to "it must be a boy this time", as many women have experienced the "third baby" phenomenon.

Other people, especially men, are less enchanted and excited about the pregnancy. People gape in the grocery store as you cart around two small children AND a belly, rather than beaming at you knowingly and grabbing things for you. :OP

And the women in my life, especially those who are mothers, have been *especially* supportive.

It's interesting, and bewildering, and tiring, and...unique.