After writing about loneliness last week I have been thinking a lot about it. Honestly it felt so good to just write the words out, and then to receive texts or messages about others feeling similar or just saying they understood. When I was in the midst of trying to sort through so many emotions with postpartum depression, I was talking with a therapist regularly. I always feel funny "naming" a season of my life, saying it was postpartum depression. Maybe it just stems from some of the stigma and shame that comes with mental health issues, but then if so, all the reason more to use the words. Anyways, when I first started going to therapy I had wished I could go almost every day. Something about talking to a calm and reassuring person helped me to feel grounded. My life felt like it was spinning out of control so much of the time. But not in the crazy and exciting ways that the movies pertray. It looked more like meeting need after need but not my own, and feeling like I had gotten myself in over my head. There was a to do list so long in my mind, but I felt like nothing was ever done. Dishes to wash and laundry to fold, and a loneliness so deep that it caused a lump in my throat when Andrew would leave for work. My body ached and my head spun. And I took care of everyone. That was my job.
The scary thing is that sometimes I still feel that way. I feel a lump in my throat and an ache for connection. I had went maybe two or three months since seeing my therapist, the longest I had went in a long time. But last week after writing about loneliness I needed that calm again. I needed to feel grounded. Therapy is always so weird. Probably to everyone. I am always so nervous in the waiting room. I wonder what I will talk about. But then she comes to get me and I smile and we walk to her office like we are just grabbing coffee or something. And then she asks how things are going. And I can go as real as I want. That's what I have always loved about counseling. I loved going to counseling in college as well. I could start light or just start crying if I wanted. And I was never judged or embarrassed.
Last week I talked about life and a little about this idea of being lonely. What is funny is most of the first half of the session I talked about seeing friends and family in Arkansas. And then we chatted about my preschool co-op friends, and new community that I have found in our church here in south Austin. She even ended our session with, "well I am glad things are going so well." And the truth is they are going well. I have a lot of people in my life that love me. But there was a part in the middle, a part where my therapist mentioned how a lot of what we talked about in the earlier days was not loosing myself. And identity. This. This is such a big and scary thing. Of course there are a lot of things about myself that I do know. I know I'm a wife and friend and mother. I love people and God and feel for the suffering. I want justice and peace. I'm bigger in my head than in real life. I fight for social causes or travel the world in my head. But reality is I love turning on PBS every morning and all I really want is a cup of hot coffee. But who am I? Who is Jeran? Am I an artist? Really? An artist that never makes any art. What do I like? Do I honestly like running to target and through the chick-fil-a drive thru?? (Actually I have come to remember I am more of the farmer's market, thrift store kind of girl myself)
So, this idea of identity. My therapist and I talked a bit about this, really only a few minutes. And then we talked about people in my life. And a crazy thing clicked in my brain. All I am looking for is connection. Duh right? But as a mother it is not always that simple. As a mother I normally hang out with a lot of other moms. And often times, being a mom is what we talk about. But while that is good and needed, talking about who I am or even who I was is also extremely important. Because that's me. Sure, my kids are a part of me, but it is only a part. And before too long they will be older or even grown eventually. And then I will still be here. Jeran. That artist who doesn't make any art.
So, that's my answer for now about loneliness. Remember. You know, sort of like in The Lion King with Simba and his dad. REMEMBER. Remember who I was or what I like. Like for example last Saturday when Andrew was sick, I was going to run and grab fast food for us but then I decided to be brave and go grab tamales at the farmer's market with all my kids. Because that's a Jeran move. And you know, we had a great time. The kids played outside around the stands and we even ran into a friend and her kids.
And, if you are like me, a mother who feels a bit lonely or out of place... after you remember, then go find cool people. Put yourself out there and connect. Talk about YOU. Talk about THEM. Not just your kids. Sure, kids can play a part. But maybe, ask them if they have a hobby, or had a hobby. Even old hobbies still count. So, let's do this. Even if you aren't a mom. We just have to be human, and remember what we love and what makes us feel alive. Because for most people it probably isn't nap time schedules or the weather or politics. Just ask, and maybe we can all find ourselves.