Gashes and Scars to Prove It

I have been rallying lately, cheering myself on, picturing myself climbing mountains, crossing oceans, and so on, in an effort to return to the classroom – which I will do this week, if the snow gods wish it so.

It’s taken quite a bit of putting off and putting off to get here, though. To be at a place where the pony-tailed girl with pom-poms can be heard above the groaning sounds (picture Harry, after getting off the phone with Sally). “I am just going to lay here and moan.” You get it now, I hope.

If you have been reading the last couple of posts, you know I have struggled with some inner chaos this winter break. And it’s taken a lot of quiet coaching, from myself, my husband, and a dear friend, to keep me aiming toward the horizon.

The sun brilliantly broke through the clouds today, after the deluge of snow that got dumped on us yesterday and Friday, and standing under her brilliant rays with snow up past my knees, something lit inside. My internal pilot light.

The inner voice of “I can do this,” sounded so true and strong, after a lot of groaning in recent weeks. Groaning over putting together brand new courses while trying to get a house sold in Georgia and trying to please quite a family tree of folks, within Eric’s and my family, over the holidays.

I gave up hard on the trying to please folks part. I even skipped a couple of “essential” Christmas presents this year, simply because my piggy bank and my inner emotional back-up fund were almost dry (I am sorry to those of you who were affected.) But the more complicated life becomes, the more grown-up pain in the butt things that come up, like a selling a house or paying for a child’s tuition, the more you have gotta say “enough is enough.”

And tonight, I pulled up an old blog entry of mine from a year ago, on this very same topic (at http://thismessyroom13.blogspot.com/). How apropos, you might say. Only, then, I had such vigor in my portrayal of creating boundaries, a lilting, mama-on-the-mountaintop tone. Coming into my newly working mom-ness, I saw clearly a new demand for staking claim to my property.

Now, a year beyond that moment, I am even farther along the “I can’t give a sh#t stage.” It’s true. There’s a bit more callousness about the whole thing now, perhaps. But it’s not in a heartless, Tony-Soprano-kind-of-way. I feel more like a bull fighter, who understands his duty to hold the red cape, and has the gashes and scars to prove it.

I am learning, to be more of a person who loves myself, and who doesn’t take that relationship lightly. My commitment to me and to sustaining myself and my family are sometimes all that can happen, until I have ten seconds again to stand in the sun and soak in her glorious cheering rays once more.

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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