Saturday, May 30, 2009

Identity Crisis

I may have had an epiphany about what's going on with me lately. I'm having an identity crisis, and my present environment isn't helping me deal with it at all. Let me explain.

Since leaving my job in July 2007, I've struggled to find a new identity as a creative person through my writing. Sometimes, the writing has gone well, and sometimes not so well. Thus far, I've completed no single piece of writing that I believe is worthy of publication, so I continue to work on my craft and to look forward to that day in the near or distant future when what I produce is worth sharing with someone else.

On a personal level, my life often feels like it's all about Chris.
1. We returned to the Lower Mainland for his job, which made him happy but me not so much.
2. I'm dependent on Chris because I no longer have an income. I haven't earned anything since September 2007. This has been difficult for me. I've always made my own way in life, and I've certainly always made a financial contribution to our relationship.
3. I've very much taken on the role of the "housewife," so to speak. To support Chris, our breadwinner, in every way I can, I take care of everything in the house, as I wrote about previously. I figure if I don't earn an income, at the very least, I can contribute to our relationship in every other way possible. I believe I add a lot of value, which Chris confirmed this evening.

But who am I?

I'm not defined by my job at CIBC anymore, and I haven't exactly found my own way in life since. The focus in Chris's and my relationship right now is on him, which is as it should be, because the opportunities have been happening to him lately (just as they did for me in the summer of 2000, when we moved to Victoria because of my promotion).

But I feel, despite my contribution, that I'm still very much a background player. To some degree, I wish I was still upfront. I wish I played a more important role in our relationship, that I still earned an income, this time producing something that makes my spirit soar through my writing.

And perhaps the hardest thing for me now is the transition we're going through--first, moving to __________, and, now, the ongoing renovations that continue to disrupt our lives.

Here's what I think is going on: At the very least, if I'm having an identity crisis (and I don't think there can be any doubt that I am), my physical environment should cooperate. In other words, our home should be settled and comforting and safe, to help offset the confusion and inadequacy I feel.

Instead, our home is a construction zone, everything around us in disarray, and I feel like I'm getting it from all sides: I'm a mess inside and outside. Does this make sense? As a result, I'm even more confused about what's happening to me and what I really want in life. When one part of your life is messed up, another part should offer stability and solace, but that isn't happening, and I don't know how to deal with it.

I need to give this more thought, to understand it better, and to figure out how to deal with it. I have no doubt I'm meant to go through this at this particular time in my life, and, to be philosophical, I'm certain there are all kinds of lessons here, waiting to be learned. I'm just in the thick of it right now, which prevents me from seeing my way through it.

As always, I need to be patient, one of the things I have the most difficulty with in my life. And I need to be easier on myself. I know life will get better. It always does. But, right now, I could sure use some relief.


  1. Been there, done that, still waging the war...but starting to win! What you're feeling is not unique to you. I'm going through it, and so are my other 50yr old friends. You're at the spot in life (Male Menopause) where you can spin in circles, or you can take control. Suggestions:
    1. Renos will end:accept and ignore the mess (neg); start seeing what's been accomplished (pos). Do this every time you start to add up things that need work.
    2. Make a reno timeline & set priorities so that you have a light at the end of the tunnel to aim for.
    3. Priority one (unless accomplished): a spot free from chaos that you can call your own either for relaxation or writing.
    4. Take a day for YOU. If writing is your goal, it's your job. Treat it as such or it's simply a hobby. One day a week (til the renos are done) you have to go to work. Leave the house with your laptop if you have to, but at least half of your day needs to be spent at your job. The rest can be spent doing something for "you" (Chris can have the other 6 days). No renos, no housework, no cooking (unless it's to make you happy). Order in, eat out, nuke a frozen meal, whatever. I'm sure Chris won't mind.
    5. You're your own worst critic. You'll never truly be a writer if everything stays in the laptop. Trust me...I'm in the same boat & have decided none of my stuff will every be saleable if I keep saying it isn't. Pick something, and take the leap. I'll bet Hemmingway's first offering was rough around the edges.
    6. Set an attainable goal. Nothing inspires like a deadline, even a self imposed one. Once accomplished, set another.

    Chris believes in you. If it turns out you don't want to be a writer, maybe consider going back to school for another occupation. You're never too old. But if you do want to write, you owe Chris your best shot at it, and you never know, you just might bring in a paycheque or two at it. Don't let fear of failure get in the it over with your wheelchair.

  2. Jeanette, you are so filled with wisdom and common sense here. I won't pretend that I haven't thought of most of this at one time or another recently. What really helps is that you've reoriented me around the obvious and regarding what I know I need to do to keep my sanity and to move forward with who I want to be.
    Yes, I believe deep down that I've always wanted to be a writer--from the time I was a little boy and asked our babysitter Cheryl to help me write a short story with a Western theme; to all the writing books I've bought since I was old enough to buy books and have kept over the years; to all the writing I did after I left my job. When I wrote continuously on my memoir over ten months, five days a week, I was truly my happiest. No pressure, just the soaring of putting thoughts and words on the page. What an incredible feeling.
    Again, I really appreciate the time you took to talk some sense into me. I will take your advice and make it work in my current schedule. And, yes, you're right. I know for a fact Chris will support me completely.
    Thanks again.