Here I am on the cusp of 50, and I am having an identity crisis like one of my 15 year olds. It is rather humorous, pathetically sad and slightly terrifying.
I am newly divorced and for the past two decades, I pretty much conformed my self to my husband, his business (a business I liked), his wishes for our family and subjugated anything that was purely me to these ideas. I don’t regret this time of my life, and we did have many things and thoughts in common. Nevertheless, as I face a single life, I am mystified as to who I really am. I am like the baby bird that went from one thing to another asking the profound and longing question, “Are you my mother?”
As I look for direction in my new life, I look back to the days before love and marriage, and try to remember the passions that were truly my own. As a perpetual people-pleaser, it is hard to distinguish what I really like from what was either popular at the time, popular with the folks I was hanging out with or what things my overly active conscience deemed permissible.You see I looked to those around me for existence confirmation, validation and acceptation. But as those influences diminished, I learned there were certain things I knew for sure that were from me, just me.
I remember my love for languages and cultures which was born in my heart in the sixth grade. After I got saved in 1979, my whole life soon revolved around my church, and that love was reinvigorated by the scores of missionary stories I read. When I got my English degree back in the ’80’s, I intended to go overseas to teach English. Maybe I should pursue that again. I even started the certificate at Cal, but could not finish because of the demands at home. There were still at least nine under the same roof. They needed a little supervision, and I remembered my first and foremost responsibility. In an old (1991) journal, I copied a little poem:
This is my mission field; the kitchen sink, where countless plates and glasses clink.
While mundane tasks involve my hands, I pray for those in distant lands.
This is my mission field; a child’s heart where endless thoughts and actions start,
For in that heart through word and deed I plant and water sacred seed.
I remember my job as a construction secretary in 1979. I worked on a job site in Redwood City. The radio was set, by decree by the superintendent, to a local country western station – KLOK – and I fell in love with Willie and Waylon and Merle and Marty. I got myself some cowboy boots and I was set. “I was country when country wasn’t cool…”, well, really, I was going country when it was getting popular. So this city-born country girl started gazing at plans and dreamed of building a home of her own. I taught myself how to read blueprints, and I also crudely drew a floor plan for an off the grid house on Mt. Rose in Nevada. I don’t know where the Mt. Rose idea came from, but the seeds of working in the construction industry were germinated in that little job site trailer. Over the years, I would add to my knowledge of construction. Maybe I’ll go get my construction management certificate and stay in this industry.
Finally, I remember I liked to write. I began writing back in elementary school for fun, I even bound my own book titled “Suzanne and the Pig”. Don’t know what became of it, never hit any best seller’s lists. I wrote poetry in high school; however, I was easily discouraged as you can see from this poem:
Tired of the same old words,
Tired of the same old verbs,
Wishin’ for the capacity beyond my control
To create poems true and bold.
Dreaming does no good,
Nor hoping that I could,
The energy does not exist
To dedicate my heart to this.
My godfather was an author and he encouraged my writing, but I don’t think I seriously thought of doing it until after I read a book the ex bought for me “Maybe You Should Write a Book”. Maybe I should, I could stay home with the kids and generate an income. I did pray a Gideon prayer in 2006 that if I was to write, I’d need to get published within the year. And I did…twice. But I’ve yet to receive a book contract…I can’t even get an agent to email me back a rejection notice.
So I look back to the expanse of my past life and ask “Will the real Donna please stand up?” Is it the country music loving pseudo-architect, the internationally traveled English teacher or the best-selling “best thing since Bombeck” writer? Each and every one of these parts are actually facets of who I truly am: the identities of the past, present and the future: best-selling writer, mother of ten great kids, possible wife of knight in shining armor and builder of dreams.