Sunday, August 12, 2012

Defining My New Role

A pivotal event in a person's journey is the changing of roles in life--when you have defined yourself for a long time and then the definition suddenly changes.  In my life one of those moments was the emptying of my nest.  The sudden quiet of a childless home can be deafening, and for me, the silence truly accentuated my unaccompanied jaunt. 

Even before I was a mother, it was what I had always dreamed of becoming. When my dream became a reality, I loved being a stay-at-home mom, even in spite of the sleepless nights and constant worry.  As my child grew I knew that he would one day be off on his own adventures, but even though I accepted that I never realized just how profoundly the change would impact my life. 

What I didn't realize was that I had defined a lot of who I was in raising my child.  The role was rewarding--I guided him, soothed his hurts, and enjoyed his presence.   I reveled in it.  I also had numerous hobbies I enjoyed, and now I would have plenty of time to devote to them.  Then why was it so difficult?    I loved writing, taking photographs, making scrapbooks, refinishing items and sewing, but somehow I couldn't start anything.  Instead I would clean and organize my house, trying in vain to find the perfect balance of function and beauty.  I thought that if I had everything in its place, neat and tidy,  then my emotions and my life would also become neat and organized.  

The trouble was I could never achieve that perfection just by cleaning and rearranging the things in my house.

Instead it only prevented me from finding a new purpose.  I didn't know where to start because I didn't know who I was.  Floundering for awhile, I just tried to make it through the days.  It all came to a head on one momentous day--my forty-fifth birthday.  My husband was out of town traveling, my son was at college, and everyone else in my life was involved in their own lives.  I was alone. 

About this time an acquaintance started to become more of a close friend, a woman I respected and admired.  As we began taking walks,  she helped me to reevaluate my life.  I could control the way I responded to my loneliness.   I didn't need to be a victim, I could embrace my newfound freedom. 

I just needed a good place to start.  We'd acquired my mother's piano a short time before, and it occurred to me that although I thought I couldn't learn music when I was younger, I could try to learn anyway.   I had always wanted to be able to play an instrument.  Now instead of waiting for someone else at lessons, I could start some of my own.  I was surprised that I actually enjoyed practicing.  Whether I was good or not didn't matter, it was the process of learning a new skill that mattered.

By conquering a challenge that I never thought I could, new possibilities opened up to me.  What else had I told myself I couldn't do that I actually could?  The next challenge awaited, redefining myself to myself was now the goal.  I have always written stories, some on paper, some only in my head.  Even so, I couldn't call myself a writer, not to myself and certainly not to anyone else.  One day I decided I would stop judging myself or my stories, I would just write.  Two months later I had a completed manuscript!  It would need some editing and polishing, but it was finished.  It no longer mattered to me whether anyone else liked the story or thought it was a worthy story to tell. 

The process of writing the story changed me.  Not only did I prove to myself that I could do it, but I was able to sort through my own feelings and thoughts through the trials and tribulations of my characters.

Now, I am in charge of where my jaunt will take me. 

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