A Bitterness of My Own Brewing: Is My Life Passing Me By?
By Hallie Sawyer on November 11, 2013
Featured Member Post
I'm sitting here in my local coffee shop with my 14-year-old, and I'm on the verge of tears. Not happy, not sad. They are tears of yearning. I want to do so much in my life, yet here I sit: a mother, a chauffeur, a wife, a bill-payer, a cheerleader, a dog walker, a whip-cracker, a caretaker, just to name a few. While I wouldn't trade those things for anything, I feel a pull to run as far as I can.
Hitting the midpoint in my life has thrown me for an emotional loop. One minute I'm so grateful for my life and the next, I feel like life is passing me by. I ache to do so many things but feel time and practicality are against me. It's not that I want to run away from responsibilities, but at the same time, I worry that it is all I will ever do with my life. I realize it sounds kind of pathetic, but this feeling grips me like a panic attack.
I feel an overwhelming need to feed my soul. So much of every day seems to suck the meaning out of life: paying bills, washing clothes, or picking up/dropping off kids. How do I embrace the life I have rather than hold it bitterly at arm's length?
I long to live differently. While I wouldn't trade my life with my husband and children for anything, ANYTHING, I also ache for a life that means something more. At times I want to be where trees and animals outnumber people, yet at other times I want to be surrounded by the creative souls of writers and bask in their glow. So much of the time I feel like I'm treading water, desperately searching for shore.
It's as if too many roots have taken hold, like the branches of my life are no longer growing. I wake up, stumble through the day, and grudgingly go to bed, knowing the same nothingness awaits me in the morning. This midlife angst makes me withdrawn, irritated, and bitter. But really, haven't I created the vicious cycle myself?
How can I foster a more meaningful life for myself while caring and preparing my kids for adulthood? How do I live without regrets? How do get past the point when just listening to lyrics of a song threatens tears? How do I make the most out of the life I've carved for myself?
As I write this post, I realize the answers have always been there; I've just chosen to ignore them.
I can feed my soul by:
-Helping others. The saying "Do good, feel good" is long-standing for a reason.
-Writing, and reading, as a means to "visit" all the places I want to go. One of the great things about writing fiction is that I can take it with me. Traveling through the words of a great book can almost seem like being there.
-Fostering friendships, online and in person, on a daily basis. I've especially struggled lately to keep up with writer friends and often feel like I've got nothing to say. To say that I haven't kept in touch with "real life" friends is a gross understatement. Try blatantly ignoring. It doesn't have to be a major production; just a call to let them know I'm thinking about them can be enough.
-Appreciating the life I have through the little things. I need to relish in the unsolicited hugs, the requests to read together, even the random information dump about middle school affairs. Some day I will ache for those days like I ache for baby snuggles and rocking little ones to sleep.
-Reading for enlightenment. Nothing soothes my mood better than a great book (and the occasional glass of wine) but I need to find some more material that will fill in the gaps in my soul. (Any suggestions?)
-Writing more meaningful words. I've already cut back most of my local magazine work as it started to feel like a burden. My hope is to write articles and essays that mean something to me and others can connect with. I also want to get back to journaling more, as it often makes me feel better.
It's time for me to live an active life, not a reactive one.
I need to embrace the world in which I live. Where and how I live is the result of the choices I've made in life. When I go through life reacting and not acting, I taste the bitterness of my own brewing.
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