The rules have changed but its happened before, hasn’t it?
Ya’ll, I’m having some major feels today with this blog post. Major. And as always, I can find something in the Golden Girls that I can relate to and that provide some sage words and advice for challenging times.
But Hillary, you’re wondering, you’re a 35 year old woman. What in the Sam Hell do you have in common with some middle aged hip ladies (because, lord knows, you’re hip but not quite as hip as these gals!)
I appreciate that notion (and the backhanded compliment, you jerk!), but the fact of the matter is that so much of what they talk about around life experiences can be applied to pretty much anyone.
In the episode Job Hunting (about 9:00 in), Rose is laid off from her job and has to start over as a single, middle-aged woman looking for a work. She had been a house wife for 32 years while married to her late husband, Charlie, so her work experience is essentially that which she acquired during her short time at grief counseling since her husband passed. She’s competing with people younger than her, potentially with more experience, willing to work for less money and maybe even for longer hours. She gets the interviews, but never manages to move past that.
She finally reveals to Dorothy and Blanche how difficult this is and how overwhelmed she feels. Dorothy’s response is exactly what I needed to hear today:
“All right, Rose, so your life isn’t the same as it used to be. The rules have changed, but its happened before, hasn’t it? …What did you do the next day when you had to start putting your life back together?…you did what you had to do.”
Rose’s identity has changed and changed again. She now has to grapple with what is, not what was. I’m sure tons of folks can relate to having gone through some major life change (i.e. serious illness, loss of a partner, moving to a new place, miscarriage.) Undoubtedly, these life changes result in an irrevocable change in identity in some capacity. Regardless of whether you view the change as a positive or negative thing you learn something about life and hopefully, about yourself.
How can your identity NOT go through a metamorphosis after a huge life change? It makes complete sense but it’s not always easy to confront these changes. It’s uncomfortable, awkward, sometimes unsettling and sometimes you really, really don’t want that metamorphosis.
I had an emotional conversation with someone today about my transition into motherhood two years ago, and how bananas it was. Nothing has changed me as much as motherhood for a myriad reasons, and I suspect nothing ever will. However, I don’t think I’ve been negotiating room for that change since it happened. I’ve been saying to myself, “THIS is me! The person I was before is still the person I am and I have NOT changed!” And that’s true, in some capacity; I still love the Golden Girls, don’t like cooking, want to listen to music uninterrupted during any commute, wear Doc Martens, jump at the chance to do karaoke and love being my outgoing self.
Without realizing it, I’d somehow subscribed to the subconscious mentality that once life settled after having a newborn, sleep went back to normal and we made room in our lives for this ridiculously amazing little person, somehow life would go back to normal.
…as in the way things were before.
It’s mildly embarrassing to know I was thinking that at all (subconscious or not.) Why the hell would things go back to being the way they were? YOU CREATED A HUMAN, FOR F*CK’S SAKE! And now you’re responsible for making sure that human develops into a functioning and contributing member of society. In what capacity, anywhere, would that leave room for going back to what was?? Adjusting to having a baby was fucking hard, and I don’t think there’s any way to fully describe it. It is all-consuming in a way that one can’t grasp unless you go through it. I certainly didn’t before I had a baby. How could I?
The conversation I had today was around how I’ve negotiated my new identity with the addition of being a mom. It resulted in the following: I haven’t. I’ve also not given myself the opportunity to explore it. It makes me uncomfortable because it somehow makes me feel like an all or nothing thing; you either don’t become a mom and keep your identity as an individual or you become a mom and that’s all you are. The sane part of my head knows that’s not true unless that’s what you want. While I don’t think that has happened to me, it has absolutely pushed me out of my comfort zone of how much of my identity is taken up by “mom” right now. The truth of the matter is that the part of my identity as a mom will decrease as I dive further into this part of my life and while I often feel the need to get back to my foundation before motherhood, someone else needs me a lot more than I need myself right now.
I feel extraordinarily vulnerable and uncomfortable writing this. One mistake I’ve made since becoming a mom (though there have been PLENTY!) is not giving in to that change and letting it take me where I need to go. Becoming aware of this has been very enlightening and provides some hope that I will be able to find some balance instead of constantly feeling like the different parts of my identity are pulling me in different directions.
If you’re still reading this, thank you. I don’t plan on making a heck of a lot of posts about my personal life or things I’m going through. This episode and the conversation I had this week really hit home for me and it got me thinking about how we react to the curve balls life can throw at us, and how those curve balls can change us. Change can be really uncomfortable and make you want to run back to what you know, what you’re comfortable with. But I know that I need to confront it head on if I’ve going to stop feeling like there’s a constant internal tug of war.
Admittedly, I have no idea how to do this but I’ll bet that acknowledging it, in some capacity, is progress.