After the Comma

It was always my dream to become a wife and mother. I felt so sure and so called to these vocations. My children are a privilege, one I often feel I don’t deserve. How God saw me fit to direct and form these four souls and create a family with my husband is beyond me. But He did. So I threw myself in hard and thoroughly. So thoroughly, actually, that I slowly lost myself along the way.

The last four and a half years have been transformational in my life. I made a decision to seek help for some trauma I had been carrying around for years. I had no idea it would be a such a marathon. I had no idea how utterly intense it would be, that it would involve a death of self in order to have resurrection. I had no idea how much I would change. Anyone who’s known me before, through, and after can probably attest to that.

Between these two aspects, I feel like I’ve really lost who I am outside of wife and mother and lots of pain. I have truly forgotten what I like and don’t like, what makes me excited and what makes me deflate, beyond the scope of motherhood and wifehood. Yes, I run. And I sew. Running saves my sanity and the sewing is mostly done for my children (though I have gotten better about occasionally sewing something for myself). Both fill me, stretch me, excite me. But what else does?

I don’t know.

Where do I like to go by myself? When I have a few hours to get out of the house alone (which I very rarely do), where do I like to go–without kids? What are my dreams? What goals do I have? What activities anchor me, calm me? What gives me peace? I don’t know. I have grown, changed from being a wife and mother. But, healing and trauma work have radically transformed me too. I paused so much of myself in family life and then paused still more through healing.

I was talking to my sister earlier and she put it so succinctly. Who am I as a writer, creator, woman after the pause? What happens after the comma? My story was threading itself, weaving itself into an odyssey. And then there was a comma. Commas occur in sentences as a cue to pause, to take a breath. It’s an invitation to rest, to recuperate momentarily before finishing the story. While taking my big breath during my own comma, there was a grand metanoia that occurred. Maybe rather than thinking I’m having a sort of identity crisis and feeling like my story is over, perhaps I’m arriving at the climax.

Maybe now things are really about to get interesting. Maybe after fighting off the demons and pouring myself out for others, the twist is that I let it consume me. Maybe after all that action for others, I’m steering my ship into my home harbor and about to come into myself.

That’s what 2023 will be for me. I have taken the pause, gathered the breath into my lungs. It’s time to continue the story. Time to explore myself. What do I like? Is it still what I liked before family life, before my transformation? What has motherhood, marriage, and a radical amount of healing changed about me? Who am I now? And what do I love? What do I want to do? It’s scary, to be honest, to start answering these questions, to start dipping my toe into the waters. But I plan on jumping in, falling beneath the water, letting it christen this new self.

I have decided to try at least one new thing each month. That might look like water colors, or might be more dramatic. I don’t know. But I’m excited. I know my family well. It’s time to get to know me.

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