I am a person who struggles a lot with discontent. Whatever I have, I dream of something different. I am working on this. I am praying about this. Still I struggle.
I wonder if this has to do with a lifetime of trying, and failing, to meet other people’s expectations. A lifetime of thinking that this lifestyle, or that job, or some ability is the definition of success. Here I am 40 years old, and I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I like. I don’t know what I might be good at, and spend so much energy fighting against those things that I am definitely not good at – because I feel I should be able to do them.
Take, for instance, my strong desire towards, and fixation on, homesteading. So often I long to be able: to grow food, to harvest food, to have a wood stove, to gather, and store, and know that if I want to eat I have to work for it. I want to be able to knit, and sew, and make crafts to display around my house. I want to have many animals (and not have to eat them) and a large piece of land far away from people.
Only I have no energy, and am not gifted in any of these areas. None. Okay, I am good with animals, but I am not good with death. I’d like to have them, but to what purpose? I don’t have the physical strength to keep up the work of caring for them day after day, and I really need my time for sleep, which having a large farm to care for would not allow.
It doesn’t make sense, yet I feel so strongly that I should be able to do this, that I am completely denying the truth of whether I actually could. Maybe it has more to do with my lack of trust in the economy, or my dislike of being dependent on other people – but there is so much about that lifestyle that I cannot do, and rather than accept that fact, I become discontent with my lack of ability.
Then there is the idea that a good life includes a huge family, which brings on the desire for many children. Only I couldn’t have more than one child, and even trying to adopt didn’t work out. All of my life this was something I wanted, and I could not understand why some people didn’t want that. In these later years, however, as I pick and pull at these desires that have driven my life, I begin to question: Why? Why do I want children? Why do I believe having a lot of children is the definition of success?
I was so upset by my failures in this area, that I was constantly feeling driven to try harder, and beg for more that I never stopped to question whether I should. I loved being a mom, don’t get me wrong, but there is so much about being a parent that is beyond my ability or comfort level, that the knowledge my son has grown beyond those years should bring me peace rather than a longing to return.
Being judged by other people, for instance, is a huge struggle for me. Yet parents are being judged constantly, and it seems nothing can be done ‘right.’ The more children a person has, the more room to be judged. On top of that, I am completely awkward around other people. Playdates, schools, teachers, playgrounds, other parents, birthday parties… having children demands interaction, and all of this was way beyond my comfort level.
Then there is the idea of being responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of another person. The very idea of that level of… power – it terrifies me. And with children, all of my sensory issues are tested to the limits each and every day, and my attention (which automatically turns inward, and is quickly exhausted when pulled out of myself) is demanded at all times.
Above all of this, there is the constant terror of all that could go wrong, and I see it all. Someone said that having children means to forever have your heart go walking around outside of your body – and this is both completely true, and overwhelmingly terrifying for me: anything could happen. Anything.
I like my quiet. I like having a lot of time to sit, and think, and analyze. I like having a lot of alone time, without demands being placed on me to get things done. There is so much involved in both of these areas which I am not good at, that even the desire to live in such ways leaves me feeling like a failure.
So I believe I have been given this time to review and rewrite my idea of what success means, and to understand what drives this discontent in my life, and figure out how to let it go.