Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Defining Myself

In my 20s, I struggled with depression, which for me was really just displaced anger.  It’s almost funny to me now, when I think about the upbringing that I had, that I was so angry about it.  But I was.  I was furious about the way that my parents had raised me.  I felt entitled to something better and I hadn’t gotten what I felt I deserved.  I hadn’t spent much time thinking about how much worse it could have been, or how my parents really loved me and were really doing their best.

I remember being on a camping trip with a friend and brushing my teeth and saying something about how I hated brushing my teeth…and her saying to me “Wow.  If you didn’t have something to be angry about you’d just make something up.”  Anger was this ugly thing that crept into every inch of my life.

So I decided to get some help.  I went to see a counselor.  We spent a lot of time talking about a lot of different things.  I worked through different issues, and things really changed for me.  I realized that I didn’t want to be a person defined by anger and fear.  It had never occurred to me before that I had a choice, that I could choose what defines me.

I felt this amazing freedom.  I started choosing.  I want to be a lover of people.  I want to be authentic.  I want to be kind.  Then there were the more superficial things that I chose as well, like “hairstylist,” “business owner,” and most importantly, “wife.”  I spent a great deal of time trying to be the best wife I could be.  I loved who I was in that relationship.  I loved and also loathed the mirror that it held up to my life, showing all of my flaws, exactly what needed to be worked on. 

And then one day, it became clear that I couldn’t actually choose what defines me.  At least, I couldn’t choose those more superficial titles.  “Widow” defines me.  I didn’t get to choose it.  I didn’t get to choose to be a wife for all of my life.  For a long time, I felt angry about this.  Actually, to be honest, there are parts of this that still make me angry.  But here’s the part that I’m learning right now:  I’m not just a widow.  It’s a facet of who I am, but I’m other things, too.  I can still choose what defines me.  I can still be a person that is defined as a lover of people, someone who is authentic and kind, and clearly, after what I’ve been through, I need to re-visit working on being someone not defined by fear.

So these days, here’s how I want to define myself (recognizing that some of these things are in my control and some are only in my control for now):  Noel:  lover of souls, passionate hairstylist, hard worker, owner of cute little house, Arthur’s owner, Rockies fan extraordinaire, blog writer, student of yardwork, love of Sawan’s life, and why not throw in there…Blonde Bombshell.

1 comment:

  1. I love those definitions. I would add "encourager" as well. Even when your honesty is so raw it's physically painful, I trust that God craves our honesty, and it takes a pretty strong person to bare that honesty for everyone else to see (or at least everyone with this URL). I tried to grieve with honesty, and as time passed, I think I've gotten away from that a bit. My story is one I feel I have to bear as a burden instead of being a way to share and witness to God's boundless love and mercy to me.

    I'm learning new things this week. Yay me. :)