Sunday, March 29, 2015

Identity Crisis


It's been so long I'm sure I've fallen off many reading lists, but this is not entirely by chance....you see, I've begun to lose myself.  The coherence of my voice has faded, my selfhood feels unraveled, my identity threadbare and fraying about the edges. 

The delusion of youth is that life is a quest that leads to some grand epiphany of self-discovery.  A moment of clarity, long sought after when the "aha" of recognition floods the senses.  Limbs tingle, tiny hairs stand on end, and a river of peace surrounds your soul.  "This is who I am."

And then life fucks with you.

You see, there is no constant.  The you looking back from the mirror when you're 22 is such a different creature than the you holding the 8lb wonder of breath in your arms a decade and a half later. You, the heart and soul, the collection of scars and stars that sails the ocean of experiences, weathering the storms, beaching for a moonlit bonfire to dance and sing--and then off again only too find oneself on the edge of the Bermuda Triangle.  This you is a thing of  reaction and response and flux. The dancing construct of you no longer applies when the hurricane hits.  After divorce. After terror and loss.  The waves of the world change you.  Whittle and shape and mold you....the joys that paint the universe with sunlight.  The agony that dims the shadows beyond black. 

Defining ourselves, learning ourselves....distilling?  We all know a guy who claims to be an athlete but hasn't touched a ball since college.  The musician who doesn't even own a guitar.  Is there an expiration date to delineation?  A margin of error for a resume?  If paint is required to be a painter... 

I'm a social worker now.  I spend my days helping disadvantaged, sometimes damaged souls learn to live independently in an often hostile world.  This is good.  This is right and what is needed and I'm rather good at it......

...and I am missing me.

Shit, so selfish that sounds.  I drive between clients, the virgin rain of spring dragging lazy fingers across the windshield, my mind a tumult of canvas and pigment and brush strokes that will never occur.  I haven't touched a paintbrush in months.  My studio is cold and dark and my days are filled with the frantic exhaustion of forty hours of caregiving, on top of three teenage boys and a husband who needs understanding and love now more than ever.  I'm wiping tears as I type this, smearing them away with the back of my hand as I take deep breaths and pray the boys wont come upstairs until I can spill this out and pull myself back together again.

Rather ironic that just when my website was finished, the number of completed works froze; an unmeltable block in the midst of season's change.  You can see my work here and should you be interested in one, call me quick as they may be the last.  How morbid I sound.  I know there is no absolute, the future is unwritten--dear Lord, I know that better than most, but I cannot seem to find the strength to balance these me's.  I fear one is replacing the other. 

And I am missing her.



16 comments:

Shea Goff said...

I see her here. I really do. And I wish I could fix the world for her like you do for others. Saying I send my love is horribly insufficient. I do know that. So I just pray for healing.

Big Mark 243 said...

...sometimes, sending love is more than enough... love and good will is sustaining... or so I believe...

btw... Pacquiao by decision..! :0)

Robbie Grey said...

It was a moment of joy to see you've posted something, despite the content. To empathize, and, sound somewhat corny, I think our existences are a constant state of becoming. As you observed, just when you might think you've arrived, that you've somehow got it, a new question, a new riddle arises, to send you wondering again. I am believer that perhaps enlightenment is when you realize you don't, and will most likely never, know every fucking thing, and content yourself with that realization, taking joy in the mysteries.

Out on the prairie said...

It is hard to find the real time and who you want to be working social services. I taught and worked group homes and at a state hospital.Some shed the stress they work around, and others should look for better professions since a job should be always fun. I met a guy who after 40 years driving a train still remembers this as the best time in his life, and would do it more had he not hit that magic age of 70.

Geo. said...

It's getting late and I've thought about your post a few times since this morning. Hard for me to comment because, what with various blows taken in life, I have the permanent jumps so I can relate at least a little and extol the virtues of Ativan and cognitive therapy when needed. But mainly I wanted to address 3 things: to assure you that although these problems don't disappear like a cold, they are not insuperable; second thing, I went to "studiochantel" and was totally enchanted by your work --don't stop, don't; most importantly, you will ALWAYS be on my reading list. My compliments and admiration.

Mary Kirkland said...

I can only hope that the work you are doing now brings you some kind of joy and happiness. Things change, that is the way of life.

Chantel said...

Shea--thank you, my sweet friend, and your love is amazing.

Mark--yes, sustaining it is.

Robbie--is it ok to say that at the moment, I feel the mystery is...absent? In the whirlwind of the mundane, my time and energy are spent, completely so, on 'average.' That sounds awful, doesn't it? But I miss the beauty that resides in painting, in writing something more than a grocery list or case note, in....time to think. *sigh* I've missed you too.

Prairie--I love that thought. Do you know, I used to say that my perfect fantasy job would be a grounds keeper at a lovely old cemetery. Nature and solitude combined with enduring care and beauty...do you think I could find such a thing that offered health insurance?

Geo--you make me want to write again. Thank you for stopping by the studio, I will carry your words about with me through this cloudy grey day...sunshine in my pocket.

Mary--wisdom, my friend. I am trapped in a battle within myself against that change. *sigh* xo

Mel Heth said...

Gosh I've missed your writing. Thank you for the post.

I understand your feelings all too well lately. I feel like I catch glimpses of myself between being tied to a laptop writing drivel by day and trying to clean up renovation messes at night. I hope your hand and paintbrush meet again soon. I'm sorry you're stuck right now. Hopefully the cosmos will shift soon and get us all back on the right tracks.

Wow, that was awkward said...

Now I want to say "Oh honey" to you. It will all be okay. I see myself all over the place and wonder where the hell that guy went. Photos, blog posts, comments, vivid memories - all kinds of things reminding me of who I was and what I did. I'm still me. You are you. Profound right? But the point is, you being you is pretty damn awesome.

Chantel said...

Mel--thank you and yes, I'm hoping for that shift too. (and your house is looking lovely!)

Brett--um, that comment rocked. Made me smile every time I thought about it. :)

The Geezers said...

Entirely new to your work, but I am quite impressed with the work—both the words and painting.

For what it's worth, I've had a couple of very rough times myself, and my conclusion: it's necessary to periodically lose yourself in order to find yourself.

Chin up. It will be fine, and you'll be the better for the interlude.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Damn. I can believe that you are very good at your job, because you are so wise and alive and human and aware. I'm sure you are helping bring some beauty into people's lives. But I hope you also find a way to keep your own artistry alive and nourished. (Clearly the writer in you is still breathtakingly talented.)

ND Mitchell said...

I'm with the others Chantel-when you've written something, I always want to read it. Keep that part of you alive for as long as you can. It's inspirational.

Chantel said...

Geezzers - sound advice, I think. And I'm making spectacular progress on that losing yourself part. :) Thank you for the compliments, sir.

Nancy - my dear friend, you always say what my heart aches to hear...xo

David - thank you, that means much coming from such a poet as yourself. :)

Candy Washburne said...

I completely understand....

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