Does Size (of dreams) Matter?

Growing up, I had many dreams of what I wanted to be or how I wanted to look etc.  We are taught as children to dream “big,”  that we can be anything we want if we work at it.  If you had asked me at 7, I would’ve said I wanted to be a veterinarian because I was thoroughly in love with and fascinated by animals.  Unfortunately, my allergies kept me from dedicating myself to that dream.   Over the years, my dreams changed from Oceanographer (turns out I’m scared of whales), to interior designer, to many other things over the years.  I did not understand, at the time, that I am a person of whim and am basically interested, to some degree, in everything.

This made following through on my dreams difficult since colleges don’t let you major in “everything.”  And most jobs don’t have enough variety to keep a person like me interested for very long. You can imagine that this has presented its challenges in my adulthood.  At 34, I have had numerous jobs including house cleaning, CNA, plastics factory worker and tux shop employee.  Currently, I work from home as a virtual assistant and have been doing that for 2 years, though my level of commitment wavers at times.  The only other job I have held for a significant amount of time is working at McDonald’s.  Though I left and returned a time or two, I think I totaled about a year and a half at that venture.  Funny thing is, I really enjoyed it.  The fast pace kept me going and I had no time to think too hard about anything. (For anyone who knows me, they know thinking is my worst enemy… but that’s another entry altogether.)

The one dream I remember always having is that I’ve wanted to have a family of my own.  For this day and age, and with women’s lib and all, that probably seems a little too simplistic.  After all, women can be anything and everything they want to be these days, and they can be all of it at the same time.  But, for me, I am a little old-fashioned about family: I actually enjoy managing calendars, cooking meals, washing clothes, and doing all of those “June Cleaver” duties.

I have spent many years in and out of the work force, and have always found myself feeling guilty and plain out miserable when I couldn’t be home to cook a meal or play with my pets.  I am simply happier when I am able to care for my home and those who live in it.  But finding this happiness has come at a steep cost.  Those “dreams” of my childhood have been put to rest and I have spent many years of my life in depression because I simply couldn’t find a dream that I wanted badly enough to sacrifice my family life.

I cannot describe the conflict I have faced with this dichotomy of working woman vs. traditional woman-hood.  For starters, I am an intelligent person:  I made straight-A’s and could get a degree in anything I wanted.  Society tends to burden intelligent people with the responsibility of getting a thorough education, and my parents were none too lenient on me about attending college (though I have yet to finish). Society also tends to burden women with the task of being everything all at once:  mother, wife, bread-winner, slut, and super hero.

As women, we are given numerous roles to play and the challenge of playing them all at once.  Many women may not feel this as a burden; they may be perfectly capable of filling all of those roles with panache.  I applaud those women.  Myself, I am simply unable to focus myself in that many directions at once.  The times I have tried, I felt as if something were pulling at all of my limbs all at once, threatening to split me down the middle.  I simply am not built to be a full-time career woman as well as a home-maker.  And, as I have gotten older, I have spent many tears and moments of desperation trying to make the decision on which road to take.

As a result, I have decided to land exactly where I am by no mistake.

Yes, I am divorced.  No, I don’t have any children… yet.  But I have a dream of having a family, and that has informed my life choices thus far.  You may think that getting a divorce was counterintuitive to having a family, but I knew I couldn’t have the family of my dreams in that relationship.  And, while that relationship had numerous problems, when he looked at me and said he was pretty sure he didn’t want kids, I was done.  It took a lot for me to walk away from that marriage, from the comfort and the dependability.  But I had this one last dream, and I knew I wasn’t living the rest of my life without it.

I haven’t changed much since I was 7:  I still want to grow up to be something different every day.  However, in this seemingly goal-less life I’ve led, I have discovered that I do have the ability to follow through with something if I want it bad enough.   As I continue my journey towards a family, I hope you find that one dream that is “worth it” for you and that you have the courage to give it all you’ve got.

 

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Day 2: No Delusions

This morning began with a trip to my doctor’s office to discuss my current antidepressant.  A few months ago, I was forced – by insurance – to switch to a new brand.  My doctor chose Wellbutrin and I have given it a try.  But, 2 1/2 months in, I am unhappy with the results for a variety of reasons.  For starters, my anxiety is no better and I feel like I live in a fog.  There is more to the equation, but you get the drift.  Anyway, my doctor and I discussed it this morning and he has changed up my prescription so that I have to take a pill twice a day.  In addition, I am to stop taking my sleeping med because, apparently, the mix of the two can cause seizures.  Seizures!

I left his office with a sense of determination:  I am going to get healthy without these pills. I realize that going off medications is a serious matter, but I also realize that staying on them has the potential to do a lot of physical damage.  From seizures to loss of short term memory, the list of side effects is daunting.  I also realize that I have never been in such a good place in my life: I am happy.

At 34, I have some life experience under my belt, as well as the knowledge that life doesn’t always have to be roses and lollipops to be worth living. Even in the worst of circumstances, I can find something worth the effort of existence.  These elements, combined with an awesome network of friends and  a counselor who has seen fit to arm me with power over my own emotions, give me the confidence that I can work towards a new sense of wellness.

I have no delusions: I know that I am going to struggle.  But I also know that I have some great weapons to fight with in my back pocket.  So, I am going to try.  Today is day 2 without an antidepressant.  In fact, I haven’t taken my sleeping med in two days either because I suspicioned that it was the culprit causing the extreme drowsiness.  Withdrawals hit a bit today and I fought a nasty headache, but my spirits are high.  I’m feeling okay thus far.

Of course, time will tell. And, if crisis becomes evident, I will do what I must. But I have to give myself a shot now.  With the divorce finally over and life moving in a positive direction, I want to see if I can handle life without a chemical crutch.

 

A Night Out

The other night, I was invited to a concert at the local music club.  A guy friend from a couple years back texted that he had a ticket and wanted me to go.  So, I went.  I dressed up in my favorite skirt and black patent heels and met him at the front of the club.  We hung out and talked to one of the roadies for a while before the concert started, taking in the cluster of electronics that would make the concert possible.  I ran into a few other friends as well and chatted.  Once the concert started, we made our way to the third row standing.  From there, we watched the show and danced and laughed and had an incredible time.  Afterwards, we hung out and waited for the band with some other friends.  And the other ladies and I watched one particular security guard break down equipment and help pack up.  The guy was probably 6’3″ and his biceps were as big around as my waist.  No kidding.  He took his t-shirt off after a bit and was working in his white wife-beater, causing the ladies and me to drool profusely.  It was then that I realized there was such freedom in being able to ogle whomever, whenever, wherever.  There was freedom to talk to old friends, new friends, and strangers.  Being single suddenly became a lot of fun.  With my new found  freedom tucked in a safe place, I was home by midnight, having enjoyed the concert as well as the show after.

If I were to base my expectations of “singledom” on television shows, then I had the most boring and unsuccessful night ever.  The popular portrayal of the single life dictates that the only purpose for existence is to be actively seeking a mate, and having as much sex as possible until you find that one person that will make you whole.  And maybe that is the truth for some people.  But, from where I stand, I think it’s a line of bullshit.  There is nothing that a chat with your closest girlfriends and a naughty drawer can’t handle.  Ha.  That’s all a woman needs in life.  Truly.

So, ladies, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t living the bed-jumping, boy-humping, crazy single life you see on tv.  Enjoy your freedom and your space, talk to people, laugh, ogle, and don’t worry about meeting someone.   You have this moment to discover yourself… use it.

Alone and Loving it… So Far

Our city has an event every other month called Gallery Night.  It’s a big to-do downtown with live music, street vendors, free cookies, and a whole lot of people.  Last night, I decided to brave this event… alone.

I was off work from the tux shop at 6, which is just a few blocks from downtown.  So, I changed clothes and went exploring.   Gallery Night alone was like a whole new world.  I got to stop in the galleries and look at art without someone else sighing or being anxious to go somewhere else.  I even got to sit and hear my good friend play a gorgeous grand piano at the music store.  Now that was cool.  As he played, people continued to gather in the store and I’m pretty sure there were more than 30 people gathered around at one point.  He played for 2 hours and had an audience the entire time.  For me, it was good to see that people can still appreciate quality music from a real musician.

After grabbing a cheeseburger and browsing the vendors, I went home.  For the rest of the evening, I watched some episodes of Sex and the City and fell asleep on the couch with my dog, Teddy.   A perfect day.

There is such a calm about being alone that I have never experienced.  To be responsible for only myself , my pets, and my own bills and time schedule…  How incredible.  So this is what I missed, this feeling of independence.  At 20, I don’t think I could’ve appreciated it as much as I do now.  It takes some living to understand the value of being alone, of getting out there and scrapping to make ends meet.  I’m working 3 jobs and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.  And, truth be told, I don’t even know yet if I’ll make rent this month.  With expenses from the move, deposits and such, my funds are depleted.  Yet somehow, I know I will have what I need when I need it.  That’s the beauty of being on your own:  No one else depends on your money.  Of course, my pets will be fed and given what they need.  But I’m willing to do without to make my rent if needed.   I have a sense of pride now that nothing else has ever given me; not making straight A’s, not being a wife, not even doing well at my job.  Knowing that I can take care of myself is the most rewarding feeling I’ve felt.  This is the beginning of my journey, and I wish in many ways that I had done it sooner.  I’m 33 now, and there are many opportunities that simply aren’t available to me.  For example, I can’t go be a ballerina now: I’m to old.  Not that I want to be a ballerina, but you see my point.

I want to take a moment to encourage young women everywhere, especially the ones who have been raised to think that getting married and having a family is your highest and best use.  I was raised in a community where marriage was a grand achievement and career women were looked down upon and dubbed un-Christian.  Ladies, there is more to life than marriage and a family, I promise you.  Before you commit yourself to that life, take a moment to stop and look around.  Find your passion, something that drives you.  You may enjoy singing or painting or writing stories or any number of things.  Whatever it is, find it.  You are only young once, and there are many opportunities you have now that you won’t have when you are older.  Take your time committing to someone else and commit first to yourself.  Make yourself whole.  I promise you, when you have found yourself, the right commitment to the right person will reveal itself.  This may sound like selfish advice, but the best gift you can give your future spouse and children is the gift of a whole woman.   Take your journey.  You’ll never regret it.