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Have you ever felt a bit erased? Everyone experiences this on some level daily without ever giving it a single thought. Each passing day we stop doing something we once did. Most times it is something very small and innocuous while other times it is a big deal, even life changing. As a kid this process is referred to as making bridges or reaching milestones. This is because as a kid we don’t just give something up we make a trade off with a new and improved skill. It is something we are all expected to do, just another part of life.
At some point, as adults, we may realize that we have done more letting go, or compromising than we thought we would do. The trade off may not feel like an improvement. It could be this realization that through natural change, or compromise, you have slowly erased the person you once were. Perhaps you even realize that the bits that have been erased were pieces that you worked so hard to hold onto or become.
Ever found yourself here?
I have found myself in this position a few times in my adult life. When I find myself feeling a bit erased, and wondering what is left of me, I sit back and look over how I got here. Then I ask if the “me” who I am right now is happy. I also have to ask if I am ok with this version of me. It is important to take a moment, or two, to take stock of “who I am” at this moment.
The answer is not always right in front of you at this very moment. Sometimes it takes a couple of days, a week, a month, or even a year to figure out the answer to those questions. Certainly it takes time to put things into perspective. Sometimes the perspective is not so easy to find.
I knew this past year was going to be one of change. There was an expectation that a lot in my life would never quite be the same.
The munchkins in my life are getting older and ready to begin school. At one point we even thought we would become weekend “auntie and uncle”. Now we are going to be helping with the schooling of two of our munchkins. Not to mention that for over a year we have been in a foster parent holding pattern. Sadly my mother’s health continues to decline. With all that is happening and flying by, I have tried to cherish all the moments. Breathe them in a little deeper and hold them close just a little bit longer.
What I never expected was that one day while I was in the middle of making plans for my family that I would suddenly feel like I didn’t recognize myself.
Sure I can look in the mirror and I can see an aging version of myself, someone who has fought hard to be confident while staying strong for everyone around her.
However as I move forward with plans for our family and house, I found myself also packing away pieces of me that I always thought were integral to who I am. At this time I am unsure of when these items will be unpacked, if ever. As I do this I am left wondering when will this the packing away of “me” end? How much of me has already been erased? How much more will continue to be erased? When I am done will I still be me?
The good news…?
That was the start of a post from several months ago.
Rent-a-Dad and I have wanted our nephews to have a bedroom they can call all their own at our house for a while now. The original goal was to create this space for them for when they visited. Now that they are going to live with us part of the school year, well that goal is more of a necessity. So a room for the boys while maintaining a separate room that can be used for foster children. That means saying “bye-bye” to our home office.
As I was packing up our office I was also packing up all of my art supplies, craft supplies and everything sewing related. Giving up our home office puts my home business on hold. I have been fine with that aspect for a lot of reasons. But packing away all of my supplies suddenly felt like I was packing myself away.
Essentially I was packing away everything that I felt made me who I am. Over the years I have struggled owning the title of artist but seamstress… I have been sewing since I was old enough to be a Brownie. Begged my mom for a sewing machine by the time I was five. Both of My great-grandmothers sewed. One worked in a leather glove factory while the other was a personal seamstress. Sewing is in my DNA. Suddenly I was asking myself: How can I pack away the biggest piece of my identity?
As I packed up these items I wasn’t sure where in my house I could make room for a craft/art/sewing station; especially one that toddlers or possibility of infants in my home could grab stuff from. It left me all a bit confused as to how to take a step forward as me, an individual. I felt a little bit heartbroken if I’m honest.
Rent-a-Dad and I have plans for an addition to our home. This addition would help alleviate some of this concern while helping create additional space for my mom at our house. It would be a win-win situation for everyone. However, until those plans come to fruition I was left a little bit confused as to where exactly I fit in as a person within my family. I’m the one who sews costumes, the one that hems pants and fixes holes. I am also the one who gets crafty with gifts. So, what was I supposed to do now? It left me feeling like my only purpose would be that of purchaser of stuff, cleaner of the house and maker of the dinner.
I spent a several evenings after the kids went to bed thinking about “what did this all mean for me?” A couple of those nights I even spent talking to Rent-a-Dad. We brainstormed ineffectively over what I could do and where my things could live. Like my sewing machine when it wasn’t being used could live in our closet. That didn’t give me any idea of where I could use it. Our dining room table is not a good place to sew. So the question arose “where WAS I going to sew?”
Neither one of us had a really good answer.
But I didn’t let that hold me back from continuing on with the boys’ room. I had been waiting for over a year to work on the room and get it completed. It was May 2016 that we had decided that our office was going to turn into the boys’ bedroom. That was before termite issues and other fun family drama. For me it was a long time coming. I am sure the boys felt the same way. At this point I needed to keep moving forward.
As the room is an interesting shape we knew the nook area within the room was going to turn into a workstation Rent-a-Dad and the boys. So that was one problem tackled.
But again the question came up “where oh where would I sew?”
I kept packing and wondering; and packing and wondering. Then over the course of one very sleepless night a thought came to me. If the boys were getting their bedroom, and a good portion of the toys were moving from our family room into the boys’ bedroom… Well then why couldn’t I set up a desk in our family room? Sure all my supplies would have to be boxed up and kept of reach but when I needed them I would have my own work station. The work station could then be used by the whole family for anything from homework to folding laundry.
Later that day I ran the idea by Rent-a-Dad. He liked the idea too. By putting the desk in our family room it opened up more than a window of not losing “me”.
At this point I felt a great weight lifting from my shoulders. I wasn’t really losing myself as much as I was rearranging myself, assessing myself, and finding new possibilities in an area where I thought none existed. And that’s what we all need to do sometimes: self-assess.
When we feel that a door has been closed on us, we are sometimes left wondering “when will the next door open?” Many times we are so emotional about that one door that we can’t even imagine a window existing.
Often I feel like I am the one who has to make her next opportunity possible. Sitting around waiting for things to happen has never worked for me. If waiting is involved I need to be working on another project while I am waiting.
In this situation I started to worry that I have packed away so much of who I am, compromised on who I have wanted to be, that I began to doubt the steps I was taking and the plans I had made with/for my family. Growing up I spent so much time wanting my kids to know who I am that I suddenly felt worried that I had botched that all up. I had to ask myself if I had compromised too much.
The answer was no but I still had to figure that out.
In so many ways I am a much different person than I was at 20 but in so many more ways I am exactly the same. Something as simple as putting a desk in our family room helped me see that clearer than before. Painting clouds for one of our nephews’ bunkie board drove it home. Just like that, all was put back into perspective and I no longer felt slowly erased. For a while though I was admittedly feeling a little lost.
I just needed a moment to sit back and see I was still me. A moment where I knew I am still an artist, a seamstress, a dreamer and so much more. Things like not reading nearly as much as I used to seemed like small pieces of the picture instead of big systemic issues. The realization was not lost on me that while these aspects may seem hidden at times, that when they do get to got o the ball they still very much shine. I am not gone or slowly being erased. I still remain.