The Life At Odds With Itself

In the backyard with firestick plants. (Euphorbia Tirucalli)

I’ve somehow fallen into a physical low, preceded by a bout with shingles, and an ongoing and deepening uncertainty about my identity. My identity as separate from my relationships and duties. These inner doubts and anxiety, a critical inner voice of “shoulds,” changing circumstances, a rejection of the way of life that I have always felt pressured to subscribe to in one form or another, relentless physical maintenance, and a constant feeling of just not ever really fitting in have been bringing me to tears recently.

What do I want? How do I do what I want? How do I pace my progress and be realistic about my goals? And also important – how do I proceed without being frustrated that I can’t do more and do it rapidly? In another context, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Inside, I follow my curiosity, building up what I want to know, practicing new techniques to further what I want to express. I am studying hand drawn typography, starting to work with India Ink brushes, using brush tools in digital animation. My music studies are on hold for now but I will get back to them, probably in an unconventional way since having time for a proper teacher remains impossible right now. Acoustic nylon strings guitar and steel strings guitar, lute.

I continue to knit socks for family and friends. It gives me something to do with my hands when I can’t think too much. Or rather, can’t bear to.

I’m successfully distancing myself from social media, using Instagram just to check in with friends, and research artistic concepts and communities. Lately I’ve realized it’s truly detrimental to my spirit to watch others who haven’t the same responsibilities (family, full-time job) nor health issues (Type 1 diabetes, late perimenopause exhaustion) progress – it makes me feel hopeless, and I haven’t found anyone nor any community with the same obstacles as I have to give me any encouragement or support in my journey. From past experience, I know going down that dark path mentally (uselessness) will lead to self-destruction. I know that much now, thankfully.

At the same time, I am stubbornly independent. Perhaps not finding anyone in my circumstances, and not finding any resources, written or otherwise, either, reinforces my feeling that I have to figure this out for myself. Without any unneeded, irrelevant guidance, pressure, or feeling the need to compete, or being on some unknown “person’s” timeline. This requires, as a someone sensitive to environments, that I isolate myself from anything with even a whiff of that.

All that being said, today I found a really relevant article in The Cut, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mom,” by Kim Brooks. Although my children are teenagers now, with one on the verge of college, and the other two years away from college, these last two plus years working from home have thrown me back to the days of “Young Mom.” In the article, Brooks, who is a writer, writes about the conflict of the creative life with parenthood. But also that having children teaches one things that are relevant and fruitful for the creative life.

I am hanging on to the thoughts in this article like a lifeline. Reading it reenergized me, gave me courage again, and reaffirmed that despite the longevity and intense nature of being a mother, it will not obliterate who I am. What I want to pursue independently of the needs of others I care deeply about is both necessary and possible.