I'm in a really odd life place. Firstly, I've made peace with not ever having kids. I've moved on. It is what it is. I'm tired of dwelling. My life is blessed in other ways, and I have a very strange yet tangible peace about it. My struggle now is my own personal self image. In America, we identify ourselves so primarily through our careers. It's okay not to have a career if you're a mom, but what if you're not?
The truth is there is a lot that I love my life right now. I feel like I didn't really get to know and/or learn to love myself until I was no longer under the strains of a traditional nine-to-five. I really have come to terms with who I am in the last two years. It's a wonderful feeling to know yourself, to be able to realize and admit your strengths and weaknesses, and to be okay with where you are.
One of those strengths is a personality that can thrive left on my own. I flourish making my own schedules and keeping myself busy, and stay busy I do. I consider myself the CEO of our household, and I run it that way. I have schedules and budgets, and yes, they're printed on carefully formulated spreadsheets. I balance all financial accounts, I make menus and cook all meals, I organize home repairs with the landlord, I do all errands and chores. My husband works; I oversee everything else. That is my "job", and it is actually a balance that works for us.
But out there in the world, there really isn't a term for that. Stay-at-Home Wife sounds indulgent and unmotivated. And that connotation stays with me, in the back of my mind, bristling against my Type A personality that feels driven to achieve.
As a result, despite being the more content, settled, and satisfied than I've ever been before, I still feel like I'm breaking some kind of rule. If I'm not going to be a mom, I shouldn't stay home. I'm obligated to rejoin the grind. If I don't, I'm just being lazy and taking advantage of my husband. Everyone else has to; why not me? I watch my friends struggling with their jobs just like I used to struggle with mine. I hear this voice in my head: "That's real life, Lisa. What you're doing now is playing. You're spoiled. Stop being lazy."And I feel like that is how the entire world sees me, too.
However, I know going back to work wouldn't just mean less of the fun stuff. It would change the responsible stuff as well. I'd also have to give up cooking all our meals from scratch, which has improved both our overall health. I would go back to being permanently sleep-deprived. I couldn't exercise regularly any more. Stress would return en masse. This is just the way life is when you work full-time, right?
Talking to my husband about this doesn't really help. While he wants me to be happy and doesn't treat me as if I must contribute to the GNP, he is around for the days when I occasionally feel very inconsequential to the rest of the world. He sees the moments I do get a little bored and senses the tiny second thoughts I sometimes have. The moments when I crave some kind of responsibility or a large project. The times I realize I do have a lot to offer; why am I hiding it in here? Furthermore, he is in the Love Bubble and sees me as Superwoman who can accomplish anything. He questions whether or not dishes and laundry would sincerely fulfill me long term. And I must acknowledge that he does have a point.
I've tried looking for a job. Several listings in, and overwhelming anxiety engulfs me every time. I hated that version of myself. I can't become that again.
This subsequently makes me wonder how much of this anxiety is actually me and how much comes down to my New Normal. You see, when you're able to live your life at your own pace, you take full advantage of the fact that your days no longer have to be manic. As an INFJ, the pace I set may be very structured, but it leaves a lot of room for deep breathing. I never hurry anywhere any more. The problem with that is I've grown accustomed to this totally different speed. I get overwhelmed by more than four or five appointments or social obligations in a single week. When I think back to how much I used to cram in a single day, let alone a week, I laugh at my current self. Yet, at the same time, the Lisa that used to squeeze four errands into each lunch hour was significantly less healthy and a lot more frustrated.
So which one is the real me? Which one is the more valid reason?
I have a feeling the answer, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. For example, working from home. I was good at travel writing, and it was good back to me. I'm excellent at supervising myself and making my own schedules. I thrive when given creative freedom. If I can find a way to get paid doing that, I'm golden. But that is asking A LOT. The truth is right now, published writers with masters degrees are trying to get jobs. I have four measly years at a tiny online magazine and no writing degree. I'm a grossly underqualified writer in a grossly oversaturated field.
In the meantime, I'm dealing with feelings of sloth and guilt by over-volunteering to do things I don't actually want to do in the first place, mostly at the arts association with which I sing. I'm committed to three groups in three vastly different performances. I've volunteered to head up the small woman's ensemble. I'm now a section leader in the main choir. I've been made auction coordinator for the entire association. Just now, I volunteered to set up tea service before rehearsals. I'm overcommitting myself to the point of resentment to cope with feeling guilty for having the freedom to sleep in every morning. This is, not surprisingly, backfiring big time. I simply can't keep this up.
So what do I do? I have literally no idea whatsoever. I peek at job listings every so often. I am currently dipping my toe into the world of book reviews, but my hopes aren't high. In the meantime, I make meals. I do laundry. I pay bills. I coordinate auctions. I help friends with what I can, when I can. I act as PR agent for my LEO husband. I keep doing what I'm doing.
You've now been brought up to speed.
Me: [mee] - pronoun
For more on that aforementioned wanderlust problem, click here.
05 February 2014
I realize this post probably isn't going to make sense to lots of people. But I'm an INFJ, and I yearn to understand the world around me. Right now, I don't understand, and it frustrates me. This is my way to put my thoughts into words.
A week ago, I was completely opinionless about football, except that all the hype was getting to be a bit much. I was looking forward to a little more variety in life after the game.
At the weekend, I was starting to get a little tired of it all. People who have never once, in my decades of knowing them, even mentioned the sport of football whatsoever had jumped on the bandwagon. People were getting Seahawks tattoos, coloring their hair blue and green, making football-shaped food, getting 12th Man-icures. It all seemed so silly to me, but I was the only one who thought so. I was beginning to feel like the lonely, uncool kid in the corner, having nothing to contribute to the giant conversation.
I also started to become more aware of the behavior of most football fans. The truth is they’re loud. Like really, in-your-face, unavoidably loud. I know that’s a big part of the 12th Man thing, being loud. But it gets old after a while. Furthermore, a certain type of football fan can be downright mean. This is trash talk in its rawest form. By last weekend, these angry, shouting people were literally everywhere. Yelling at the grocery store. Yelling in restaurants. Yelling in doctor’s offices, parking lots, on the street. As a naturally quiet person, I was beginning to feel like a line was being crossed. The hype was barging its way into my personal bubble, and I was uncomfortable.
I would retreat to my quiet home with no football yelling only to be greeted by a virtual version of the same thing on social media sites. People talked about literally NOTHING ELSE.
Grin and bear it, Lisa. These people are just doing their thing. They’re actually happy. It’ll be over soon. It’s no big deal.
When we won, I was sincerely happy for those who were sincerely happy. I really was. I thought everyone would just be contentedly satisfied from here on out. No more to prove. Just a justified, accomplished return to normalcy, right?
So, so, so, SO wrong.
I tried to be patient while waiting for my husband to return home after the game. He couldn’t, you see. A large chunk of Seattle was in a destructive, drunken stupor. Shootings, bonfires, looting, property destruction. I will never understand why some people equate being proud of your city to destroying that same city. My exhausted husband relayed the events of the night to me the next morning, which, of course, didn’t even come close to what the media was reporting. In fact, we were being praised nationally for being so “responsible”.
That’s when the anger and resentment started seeping in.
This is the same city that will slander and corrode their law enforcement for sneezing improperly. Yet when they literally break their own city, when they need to be rescued by the same officers they slander, not to mention very personal and direct repercussions to my own family, their actions are completely swept under the rug. Praised even.
Since then, the shouting has only gotten louder. Facebook has become one giant laundry list of trash talk. The sheer volume of Seahawks regalia rivals Christmas decorations around here. Yesterday, I was followed and verbally accosted by some random dude yelling that the Seahawks won because he is a fan.
Today, everyone and their mother has gotten the day off work to attend the Victory Parade downtown. They’re all yelling and posting on social media how excited they are to see these players drive down the street. What they aren’t taking into account is how this is affecting those who have no choice, especially if people start acting stupidly destructive again. The truth is city officials are concerned about a number of issues. I know several officers who’ve had to sleep only a handful of hours at their respective precincts since the game three days ago. Other officers had to cancel personal plans, including proper vacations, as the city’s potentially poor behavior warrants Mandatory Overtime. All vacation and furlough cancelled department-wide.
Even my husband is waning. He started the week as a Seahawks fan; he’s not so sure anymore. He has been fortunate enough to come home two of the nights, but he’s exhausted. He spent all of yesterday putting together hundreds of EMT kits for first aid calls for today’s parade. Why? Because they have to be ready for problems again. And problems mean injuries.
And all of this for a game. It is much easier to be a supportive police wife when your plans are cancelled and your husband is running ragged due to legitimate safety and rescue needs. An earthquake, perhaps. A crazed lunatic with a gun, maybe. But this? This is a recreational activity. It’s harder to be patient and selfless for drunk people and a recreational activity.
I guess that’s what it all comes down to for me: I don’t get the appeal of football in the slightest. I’ve tried to watch it; I fall asleep every time, that is until the fans start yelling at each other again.
I had a conversation with a mega-fan family member before the game. A long-time season-ticket holder. A deeply ingrained fan. She almost started to cry describing the euphoria that comes over her when the 12th Man starts to yell. Curious about the psychological elements behind this, I started reading about BIRGing. It helped me understand better, but I’m still frustrated. I try to post things that interest me on social media, things that might make me BIRG, thinking someone somewhere must have interests outside football, surely. These attempts are only met with more silence. And even more football. I feel invisible.
I should clarify I still don’t necessarily have a problem with football itself. Though I still don’t understand the appeal, I can accept it’s just not my thing. I’m still quite happy for the happiness of my sane fan friends. The ones who behave like normal people. I even ventured into a sports store yesterday for birthday gifts for that same mega-fan family member. That was an experience! (I can tell you one thing: the next time someone asks how we afford to travel, the answer is going to be, “Because we don’t participate in this ridiculously overpriced hobby!”)
I feel like everyone thinks I’m trying to be a Scrooge about the whole thing, but that is sincerely not the case. To me, I’m the only one who hasn’t changed. More than anything, I wish I understood the collective behavior around me. Being the only one who doesn’t understand seriously makes you feel like you’re the crazy one. But the further and further we get into it, the less and less I understand it all. Like my husband said yesterday, as he collapsed in a chair, rolling his eyes, “This is no longer a sport, honey. It’s a religion.”
The way I see it is this: to each their own, as long as they’re not imposing themselves on anyone. Well, guess what, crazed Seahawks fans? This mania is becoming an imposition. And if I don’t get to see my exhausted, frozen husband again tonight because of selfish, thoughtless people, I’m pretty sure my football-neutral stance is going to become a football-negative one.
There is celebrating, and then there is being obnoxious. Can we please learn to distinguish between the two?