Monday, November 10, 2008

Identity Crisis

For the last 9-10 months I have been a mess! I have been on a non-stop emotional roller-coaster. I have been that crazy hormonal womyn who cries instantly over the smallest of things; whose patience is as thin as tissue paper and who has had a very hard time finding true joy in any area of her life. I stopped breastfeeding my little one back in early March and I began to wonder if maybe all of this was attributed to that and my hormones being out of whack. But after an $800 blood test (don't get me started on this b.s.!) to test my thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels all they could tell me was that all of these are normal and exactly where they should be. So my doctor then says maybe I am dealing with depression. Okay...depression, really? AND that I should get a low dose prescription of Prozac. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is coming from doctors that know how my family functions: no immunizations, no antibiotics and doing EVERYTHING as naturally as we can. This is coming from doctors who have not done a psychological evaluation, nor even talked to me about what has been going on in my life over the last 8 months such as:
  • being mother of two kids under 4; 24-7
  • constant sleep deprivation
  • taking on responsibilities at my daughter's school
  • realizing that my husband is probably always going to work way too hard and not give himself the rest and downtime that he needs-that we need
  • realizing that I am turning obsessive about my house being clean
  • having a mother, whom I am not particularly close with, move in with me for four months and then up and moves to Oklahoma leaving my daughter with serious separation anxiety
  • a teething son who cut 6 teeth within two month
  • a garden to tend to (which usually isn't stressful, but was at times this year)
  • extremely difficult menstrual cycles that take me days to recover from
  • and the everyday issues of multi-tasking and life i.e. finances, food, computer problems, car problems...the list goes on
So that is not really a lot of stress and yes maybe I am dealing with a little depression, but I am beginning to realize that more than anything else I am struggling with an identity crisis. I am having a hard time with who I have become, because I no longer see myself as what I once was. And in all truth, I am no longer who I once was. I am now a mother; this is my primary identity as hard as that is to accept sometimes, it's true. I had a very interesting conversation with a dear friend this weekend, who had an interesting conversation with a dear friend of hers the day before ( all of us young mothers). The topic: mourning ourselves; our former identities before the identity of mom took over. How do we get back to who were? I don't know if that is possible, because our lives have changed, pretty drastically and this new element is now a part of what defines us.

So the real question for me is how do I meld the two? How do I redefine who I am to incorporate the pre-mom Lacey and the post-mom Lacey? Am I doing it already and just not realizing it and how is it that I only started feeling this way after my second child?

I no longer see myself as this fiery, independent, young feminist and activist who is ready to take on the patriarchal world. But I see myself as this overly tired and overly stressed mother of two who is ready to be done with changing diapers, who wants a little freedom back in her life, not a child always at my feet or on my hip and as someone who on rare occasion has time to actively engage in her feminist and environmentalist agendas. When I was pregnant it wasn't an issue for me because I had experienced pregnancy and birth through the lens of female empowerment and I used that to shape my experiences. Since then I have found many things over the last four years to take interest in and even develop a passion for, but I have reached a place in my life where I am mourning that former self. I miss that freedom and independence that I once cherished dearly.

I think many womyn feel this way once they become mothers, yet it is something that we don't discuss often so we have a hard time articulating what it is that we are feeling. And it is hard to find a confidant in which to have these types of conversation. Are we that scared of admitting that motherhood is not all kisses and giggles? Whether we have chosen to be stay-home moms or moms who work inside and outside of the home, we all deal with the same struggles and balancing acts. We need to talk about it together and we need to offer support to each other. I now have a wonderful community of mothers around me who I am starting to openly discuss such difficult issues with. And I am spending more time writing to discover what it is that I want and need at this moment in my life.

I do feel that since I have taken up writing again I am connecting with myself again, a piece of myself that was lost quite some time ago. Writing has been a way to remind myself of the natural process of evolving; who I was, who I am and who I will become. Writing has created an outlet to let this new chapter of my life (motherhood) foster a new creativity that I have been longing for. It has been almost a year I have been craving a creative outlet and I have made a list of many things that I want to do: take up a new instrument, sew, knit, crochet, write a book, take a dance class, start a blog. Something that is for me; just ME. And I am slowly working on some of these things and teaching myself that it is okay to spend time on me. So as I start to navigate this journey through connecting the old me and the new me, strengthening who I am and who I want to be I ask for your kind ears at times and once in a while I might even need a shoulder to cry on.


Bridget said...

Hey Lace:

You know, I am always here to talk about ANYTHING. I am not a mother, but I do know a thing or two about identity crisis. You are doing exactly the right thing expressing how you feel. Never feel any guilt about that...

As womyn, when we begin to muzzle ourselves is when we will truly lose ourselves. All you are trying to do is find yourself amongst the chaos, kids, responsibilities. Keep writing, keep thinking, keep talking, keep reflecting! You will find you...and all I can tell you is YOU have AMAZING strength.


Na said...

Lacey- You know how much I love you and you are dead on with this entry...don't fret! We'll get through this together...just grateful I have you in my life!

Country Girl said...

I just came across your blog today through children in the corn. I like what you have to say! I can totally relate to this post. When my kids were younger I went through the same things your feeling. My husband and I lived it up BK (before kids) and we were always working on projects etc. It was challenging when all that went out the window in a moment. It is VERY HARD when they are young. My 2 are 23 mo. apart and the hardest times were when they were infants and toddlers. Now they a 6 & 8, they are best buds most days and quite independent.
It will get better. I do agree with you that your hormones may contribute to this also. HANG IN THERE!!! Heck with the meds, have a cocktail or go for a run!

Rebecca Marie said...

My dear Lacey -

I love your writing and your ability to really make me feel what you're feeling. I know that I already wonder about my future as a feminist mother and I look at you as a role model - not of perfection, but of reality.

I'm sad that your doctor made such a careless recommendation, but I agree with country girl - have a cocktail, go for a run, send the kids to a friends and spend a weekend with Greg - reconnecting the "old" Lacey and Greg - Jason has always been my source of strength and tell me about the woman he married and how I am the same person, but better.

It also sounds like your grappling with some guilt about being the mother you know you want to be, as opposed to the mother that life allows you to be. You have to be able to say that you "can't" - you can't make a fabulous organic meal every night - it won't undermine your morals to order out, a immaculate house is a 50s housewife myth - sometimes watching a movie with the kids is more important that vacuuming. You have to give yourself a break without feeling guilty about it.

Personally, I've had to learn that I can't be everything to everyone - my responsibility is to myself, my unborn child, and my husband, everyone else has to take a backseat - friends, parents, coworkers, etc. Womyn stuggle with this more than men - we're socialized to be self-less until it escalates to the point where you give every part of yourself away and have nothing left. Learn to say "no" and then after a while you'll be able to say it without feeling guilty.

my ears are always here to listen and my shoulder is always here for some tears too.

all my love,

Stephanie said...

If you ever want to "get together" via the net, email me. As you know, there is a lot to do naturally to help you right now. I may be able to help with that. Some of it just may be getting those much needed breaks...I did read a few of the entries, and you are like super-perfect-do-everything mom. You make me feel and look like a complete loser buffoon at this job...perhaps, just lowering the bar for yourself would alleviate some pressure and allow more happiness to seep through. I mean, what you acomplished on election day takes me at least a month! And you are allowed some grace for yourself, too. I do feel is hard and it is completely ok to say so.