Sunday, April 5, 2009

rhyme and reason

A few days ago, an old friend who's been following my blog asked me why I'd stopped writing.  I wanted to use this entry to try to sum up the answer to that question, and see if it will jumpstart my desire to keep posting at the same time.

I've been journaling for a long time now; off and on since I was nine.  Off and on, never consistently, mostly because journaling is a kind of therapy for me.  It's not a way to relax, it's a way to process.  Sometimes I'm okay and don't feel the need.  Sometimes I can't articulate all that's going on, all that's wrong, all that's worrying me.  It would amount to facing things I'm not ready to face, because they're happening.  When something's too close, I can't reflect on it.  

Soon after my last blog entry, I took a bad fall down a flight of steps.  This led to a problem with my thyroid (or the thyroid issue was what indirectly caused the fall, I'll never be sure), which led to a problem with my heart.  Around the same time, I went back to work, which continues to be really challenging.  As a "working mom," I'm not the best mom I can be; I'm not the best teacher I can be, and beyond the fact that I miss my daughter, I have a really hard time not excelling at things I'm good at.  I don't like to show weakness, I don't like to cry in front of people, I don't like to ask for help.  And yet, I've done all these things in the past six months or so.  I've been juggling new parenthood with a super challenging class, and extra responsibilities at work, and trying to fit in umpteen bazillion doctor's appointments through it all.  I have the sneaking feeling that as much as everyone is saying I have every right and reason to slip a little in my responsibilities, no one is actually cutting me any slack, and I'm steadily losing intangible things like clout, cred, authority.

The upshot is, I'm fine, but as a bonafide "glass half-empty person," the stress has taken it's toll. A few times, I've broken down, decided I'm quitting my job, and Karissa has talked me off the ledge.

We've juggled the numbers six ways to Sunday, with the same result.  I can't stop working without putting my family in some financial risk.  And stopping work would also mean a big move, out of SF, into the 'burbs.  It would mean starting over.  It could mean isolation, at least for a time, for me and maybe for Julia.  It would mean living on a stricter budget than we're already on, living from hand to mouth, standing still on debt and putting nothing away for the future.  It would also mean I get to be with my baby, which is something I long for, but am not willing to mortgage her future to do.  So we're not ready to do go there, but I still shoulder a heavy ambivalence about my decision to return to teaching in the fall.

So we've decided we're going to move anyway, try to take a huge chunk out of the rent expense, so we can pay down debt and save for a house.  Meanwhile, we may be starting to try to get pregnant again, provided I have a clean bill of health.  I'm physically, though not quite psychologically, over my first experience with childbirth, but as the saying also goes, I'm not getting any younger.  It's a lot to think about, much less try to sum up in a few cleverly worded paragraphs.  

Another thing that's prevented me from writing, is frankly, Facebook.  I've become really skeptical of social networks, as I don't seem closer to any of my friends, and seem to have open up many cans of worms, dredged up a lot of nicely buried feelings.  Then I created a signpost on my Facebook page, in a fit of self-confidence and accomplishment, for all of my so-called friends to see.  So some of them are my actual friends, or people, while distant, I still cherish fond memories for and about. But with these lightning-speed reconnections come old associations, some unpleasant, and with them the fear of rejection, the fear of being judged by people who have already taken a chunk of my self-esteem, whether in middle school, high school or college.  I "friend" them to prove that I'm over it.  And in the process of doing so, I realize I'm not.  

Then I became Facebook "friends" with my immediate family.  That was the last straw.  Given how close we are, it's amazing how much they don't know about me, and I like to keep it that way.  I realized with my blog url obvious on my profile, they could have access to it in a matter of seconds.  It's not that I had written anything incriminating about them, it's just, well, I'm vulnerable on this thing.  I don't know everything, I'm not super confident, and everything is not always okay.  And, needless to say, this is different from my family persona.  

When she got on Facebook, I had a flashback to my mom reading my diary when I was in high school, then later confessing this to me and commenting tearfully about how sad I seemed. Given the fact that I rarely wrote in my journal when I wasn't sad, I knew she had a skewed view of my inner life, but my anger at the violation of my privacy and exposure of all of my secrets was coupled by guilt that I had worried my mother.  Because when my mother worries, she WORRIES.  Even if she had a reason to worried, it was not like she could do anything about it then, and the same goes now.  She's three thousand miles away, and frantically calls if Karissa or I post a troubling status update. It's just not worth the stress or the blow to my rep in my family as the one who "has it together."

So I've taken my blog off my Facebook page.  Biggest issue resolved.  Julia's on a reasonable napping schedule, which allows me some time to write when I'm home with her.  I've decided to accept being vulnerable if it allows me to be authentic.  I have confidence that the people I really care about and respect will find a way to keep reading, and the rest will just ignore my trite observations on life, lesbianism and motherhood.  In short, thanks for asking.  Thanks for reading.  I'll start writing again.  I can't promise that it will be consistent or coherent all of the time, but as least it will show, in stops and starts, a life moving forward, risks taken, and problems (knock wood) solved.


Aduladi' said...

You have such a talented way of writing and I think blogging is a great way of journaling. I am like you however, and hesitate to open up that wide to my FB friends. Some are people I was totally intimidated of in jr. high and HS and have befriended now to show that I too and "over it", LOL! I hope I do not fall into that category for you; I was a wimpy little girl back then trying desperately to be liked. I was pretty much a facade of a person then.

I hope you do not mind that I have been checking in with you via your blog. I understand how you are feeling in your new role and will keep sending you good "momma vibes" on the days I can find them myself!!


Jenn said...

Thanks, Angel! If this is the Angel (Angelique?) I think it is, I only have memories of what a sweet person you were. And that we both really really liked the Monkeys:) Correct me if I have the wrong person!

Thanks so much for the support; I need all I can get. I'm happy you're enjoying my blog, I'm certainly going to try to keep it up.

Aduladi' said...

It is "the Angel" (Angelique), LOL! Sounds like you two are doing a great job, hang in there! The new Mommy thing (and all that goes with it) takes a while to fit, but it will for sure!