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Friday, October 14, 2011

Navel Gazing

More on that funk I have been experiencing. I’m a bit sheepish to admit, but it started around my birthday last month. It isn’t the specific number or even that I am growing older really. I think it is this prevailing feeling of being stuck. All at once I seem to be absorbing the shock of the many life changes and challenges I am facing.

I have always been a goal-oriented person who kept her eye on the prize. I have been a single parent for the past 15 years and the goal has always been to raise two relatively functioning young adults. They don't smoke crack and neither has robbed a bank. I'm thinking I'm two for two here. The “kids” have moved out and moved in several times, but it is different. I no longer find my purpose in them and I feel set adrift in more ways than one. 

I have worked a job for the past 10 years that does not make use of any of my God-given talents just to pay my bills and complete this goal. Task accomplished. Only now I am in an empty house, working a job I am unfulfilled at, and for the very first time in my adult life, I don’t know what to do next. 

I want to go back to working in publishing because it is what I have always loved, and frankly, I'm good at it. But I have found that, while I was out of this sandbox, I am now expected to have a top secret clearance, a masters degree, and know HTML, CSS, Wordpress, and Java--good luck finding that person for $30,000 a year! Never mind that I have always learned all of my job skills on the fly and then excelled head and shoulders above the rest. I think it has something to do with the underdog equation. When no one else believes in you, you have something to prove.

Having to put my life on the back burner for 10 years has left me in a career I don’t see going anywhere and one I don’t enjoy. Go back to school you say? Having raised the kids on my own meager salary, the money tree is, well, dry. I am in a quandary as to what to do to get out of this quicksand. Should I buy a “new” used vehicle or try to get a loan for school or maybe some technical training? Take a job earning $10 an hour to learn these new skills on the job? I think not. My none-existent significant other is not here to pick up the slack for a year or two or three. What if I get sick? Or, what if I don’t want $50,000 in educational debt hanging over my graying head at night?

Lest you think I am complaining or throwing myself one helluva pity party, I’m not. It’s more of a heart lament. Again, it’s like being 13 and not knowing what you’re going to look like in a few years, how high school will be, and if anyone will ask you to the dance. I don’t think I can get through this unless I speak it through and own how I am feeling now. Please don't take this wrong. I know I am blessed. For all of the hardships I have endured, I have two wonderful young adult children I can take credit for raising, both of who I believe have bright futures and will add to humanity here on earth and in God’s kingdom to come.  I am also still healthy. Yet, I feel stuck. 

Gee, I know this all sounds depressing, but let’s get real. It is depressing. Life is unfair, children grow up, death and divorce happen, parents age or die, bad things happen to good people, and no matter what, time marches on. I’m not ready to give up by any stretch of the imagination. God forbid! But with all of the single women out there, I find it disappointing that there is not much written about these devastating life changes I am facing as a single person. 

Let’s face it, there is no blue ribbon prize for the job I did or the sacrifices I made and no husband to rebuild my relationship with now that the nest is empty.  Still, in my heart I know my married sisters are feeling this same sting. So maybe the single part is me indulging just a wee bit in self-pity and navel gazing.

I am in that thankless place where my grown children are not really old enough to appreciate the sacrifices that I made and my parents too old to remember I wasn’t always acting as their parent. It is rather a lonely feeling when you realize for the first time that your mother may be your biggest cheerleader, but she can no longer get off the bench. I miss the woman who soothed my wounded days and wounded soul with her own special salve. 

So I am learning to carry on alone and become the pillar of the community my mother raised me to be. I just have to know and believe that God does see me and that He has not forgotten the loneliness, financial desperation, or the desires of my heart. And though I know He cares, it is tough that on top of all of these bewildering changes, that I am feeling so invisible. I spoke about this in a previous post, but it is such a strange, vaporous state. I have never been someone who enjoyed the spotlight, even for a minute. I think what strikes me the most about this "disappearing" phenomena is that I didn’t know I was always in the limelight until someone hit the switch. I guess it is a little like the saying, “Youth is wasted on the young.”

The movies or books directed to the single women my age who are suffering this same malady either advise them overtly or outright to “reinvent” themselves. And if that fails, travel ladies! You can’t reinvent yourself on a budget. It’s like there is this big media presupposition that all middle-aged, single women have a well hidden bankroll.  

I really am not a whiner. Really. I’m actually pretty tough, but I must say I have been completely ambushed and woefully unprepared for this time in my life. I will bounce back. That is just what I do. And, more than likely, I’ll “reinvent” myself. In the meantime, please don’t send me any travel brochures.

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