Tuesday, March 01, 2011

When Words Reveal Too Much

I stood in the bathroom, hair tied back, scrub brush in my hand, sweaty from cleaning all day and I cried. Looking out at my husband, in the middle of a conversation, I cried.

He had tried to be positive and encouraging as we talked about the next year and our plans as I contemplated returning to full-time work and finally finding a career path. He offered ideas, found positions he was sure I could succeed in, and all I could do was try to disabuse him of his optimism and his attempt to help.

"J--, I'm 37. I have spent the last ten years primarily being a mother. I have spotty work history, no "real" experience and graduated from college 14 years ago. We are in dire economic times and I will be competing with 22 year old kids with no responsibilities. No one will hire me for the types of positions you are suggesting to me."

"But I believe in you. I believe that you can do these jobs."

"I believe that I can do them too...but it doesn't matter what I believe....it matters what other people, whom I have no control over, believe...other people who look at me and sum me up as a stay-at-home mom with unrelated work experience who has never really utilized her degree, which is now 14 years old, in any concrete way. That is all that I am to them."

"I think you're being too pessimistic."

"Pessimistic? It's not pessimism...it's reality. I have sacrificed a large portion of my life to raise our kids and make a home and be available. I don't regret it. I chose this life and I wouldn't change it.....but there are very real consequences for my choices. If something ever happened to you, I don't know that I could earn enough money on my own to take care of our kids. If you died in a horrible accident, how could I afford to provide for them? An entry-level job would never pay enough."

And then it came, a wave of sorrow and worry and recognition that threatened to overtake me. Speaking reality in cold, harsh words was too much for me to take. I had let the nervous words break free from my mind and enter into the world, filling the room with one of those secret worries that you try to crush when it first whispers to your consciousness because to let it grow and flourish would be too much to bear.

The words and thoughts were not new. They lingered in my mind occasionally as I lay in bed imagining what-ifs and what-would-I-do's, but now they had escaped and exposed my weakness.

Words are like that. I often don't know how strongly I feel about something until I have to articulate it, and once articulated, I face the effects of knowing what is truly within me.

For now, my words have become too much of a reality to me. They have created a world very different from the one in which I thought that I lived in, conceptually-speaking, and I feel caught between these two conceptual worlds, able to see into each of them, but not fully belonging to either.

I am going to keep my nervous words inside my head for a while, until I have decided whether I want to free them from their captivity.

If I decide to free them, I'll blog, though I may create a new blog.

Or I may stay in my self-imposed silence for a while.

I'm OK. There's nothing awful going on in my life. I just need to take a break from blogging and commenting and hopping from conceptual world to conceptual world for a while.


Like a Child said...

I've had those moments one too many times!

D'Ma said...

I heard a quote somewhere, and I don't even know who to attribute it to, but here it is: "To be fully known and still loved is to be loved fully". It is hard and it is scary to be vulnerable and fully known. But once the worst of what you've thought is out there hanging in the air and you are still loved, that is a comforting place to be.

I've enjoyed reading your blog. There's nothing wrong with taking a little break. I hope you find peace in it.

Retriever said...

Dear Terri, I know how unnerving such thoughts are. I have loved your blog, and am rooting for you. I will pray that you find the right work, and that God helps ease your fears and strengthen you.

james said...

D'Ma and Retriever said it first and better.

Anonymous said...

I read this to my wife and she started to tear up and almost cry because she'd felt the same thing.

JS Allen said...

I'm rooting for you, too.

In case it helps, I read about a technique about 20 years ago that helped me deal with a lot of anxiety. I used to keep a large whiteboard in my bedroom, and would write "THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT" on it. When I would discover any anxiety lingering half-conscious, I would just write it on the board. I don't know why, but it helped a lot. Maybe my mind knew it didn't need to keep pestering me with the worry, since it was right there on the board. Many of the worries turned out to be way overblown; and others turned out to be worse than I expected. But I felt massively better overall.

Now I do the same thing, but keep it in a "Things to worry about" list on my computer. It's like a "To do list", but you're not actually supposed to *do* anything about the items (unless you want to). You're just supposed to *worry* about them, thus the name. And of course, you only put items on the list if you were already worrying about them. You can cross them off when you don't feel like worrying about them anymore.

Anyway, I know how annoying it can get when I express some frustration and people jump in with suggestions instead of just listening. And I know the "things to worry about" list is probably not for everyone. But I just wanted to share that it made a big difference in my life.

terri said...

Thanks Everyone. I appreciate your words of consolation and I feel bad that I made El Bryan Libre's wife cry!


The work example, while a true story, is really a proxy for my spiritual life. The things I have written and expressed over the last few years have become a harder reality for me than when they were simply floating around in my head...and putting them out there and facing them...well, it's sometimes very shocking to me.

As the words and concepts have hardened and become more "real" to me, I am sometimes left not knowing what to do.

So much of my identity has been tied up in what I believe/believed that losing parts of belief is like losing myself, and trying to discover where I begin and end....that has become a little confusing for me.

So, my silence and break from reading and commenting elsewhere is just an attempt to give my psyche a break and just breathe for a while.

I appreciate all of your kind words.

And...I will probably be back eventually....after I have sorted myself out a bit.