Somewhat tangentially I was scrolling through old photos, trying to figure out how I had mis-ordered them, when I stumbled upon the visual record of the chunk of time in the first half of 2013 when mom was still alive, we still lived in NYC, I had all three of my children, James was finishing his last semester before taking on his hard won clerkship, we saw friends often, the kids adored school, I was doing aerial and stilting and unicycling, developing a film and planning many other creative endeavors...our family was thriving, and I felt like my life, while amazingly difficult was - well, it just...it just fit. It felt right. I felt potential in everything we did, and even preparing for the inevitable decline of mom's health that we knew was coming felt purposeful...at least I was able to provide this for her, there was so much we could do to comfort her, to try to help her live and love and learn enough in that year to make up for the forty years of future she wouldn't see, and to revel in everything she had to offer me...it sucked, it was painful and gut wrenching, but I felt alive. I felt like I had managed to create for myself the life I hadn't even known I wanted, but everything during that spring, wonderful or horrible, just seemed to fit in a way that gave me a sense of fulfillment that I knew my mother would be proud to witness, but more importantly, I suppose, brought me a sense of peace.
It made me reflect on what has happened since, and where I find myself now.
It's hard to explain how upside down everything has felt these past two years or so. I feel like we moved to DC, my mother died, my health declined, and everything just unraveled. I still have my wonderful family, and I'm still taking steps to try to regain that sense of fulfillment that made me feel so whole, but when it comes right down to it, I don't feel happy anymore.
It's hard to admit that. Especially in a forum where I know so many supportive, loving friends and family can see it and be offended or saddened, but it's an honest element of the experience and I don't think I can move past it without admitting and acknowledging it. They say the first step to fixing a problem is to admit you have one, right? So hi, my name is Kate, and I am struggling with grief.
So here I find myself; 30 years old, with a wonderful husband who has a reliable, meaningful job that will support our family enough so that I have the awesome opportunity to stay home with our three amazing children. We are in the process of buying a house and heck, maybe I will throw in a white pickett fence just to round out the stereotype and drive home the fact that I've somehow fallen into the American Dream.
I certainly dont mean to come across as ungrateful, because what I have and the opportunities I have been given are utterly priceless. But this has never been what I wanted.
My soul felt happiest navigating the crazy streets of NYC with my three littles, soaking in every sight, sound, and opportunity. Creating moments of truth in my art that could touch people, maybe scratch their minds enough to think a little bit beyond their usual box. Making connections, making things happen, and sharing opportunities...here, I feel stifled, isolated, voiceless...and the thought of settling into a suburban house for a decade makes me feel like a little bit more of my soul is dying.
These days I don't see my friends very often. I found a job that was briefly fulfilling but quickly turned toxic. I spend my days fretting over whether I can live up to the task of homeschooling these kids while realizing their skill sets are so far beyond expectations that just returning to a regular neighborhood school would be crushing. We are looking to buy a house that we will "settle" into for the next decade, and it makes me feel like a little bit more of my soul is dying. I don't feel at home here. I feel like a fish out of water; homesick, lonely, and powerless. My career network exists on a plane I can't easily reach from my geographic location; and even emotionally. I have a lot of work to do before I can join my peers in creating meaningful work again.