Saturday, August 22, 2015

Finding a Purpose

When I was younger, I remember telling my mother I felt I must have some kind of purpose in life.  I didn't know what it was yet, but I believed I had one.  My mother said, "You have delusions of grandeur."

I can't fathom anyone or anything having a purpose now, especially myself.  This isn't my mother's fault.  Intellectually, I know she was wrong about most things in life.  I know agreeing with her in this is unhelpful at best.  When I struggled to find the bright side of my own bad situations as a kid -- I referred to it as 'finding my consolation prize' -- she yelled in frustration, "Not everything happens for a reason!  Bad things just happen!"  I know that, even if she was right, even if there is no bright side to anything ever and being alive is just the worst, allowing myself to believe that is the unhappiest thing I can do.  If there is no point to anything in life, the only reason to live is because you enjoy it.  And it's almost impossible to enjoy it when you're sure everything sucks.  Still, I have trouble enjoying it.  I guess I'm like her that way, in spite of myself.

When I decided to get married, I made a bigger decision than just the marriage.  I was unwilling to affix myself to someone only to bring us both down, as I feel my mother -- or, more accurately, my parents -- did.  Saying yes to getting married meant I would never allow myself to give up.  I would keep trying to get better and be better.  I had to go all in, particularly in terms of mental health.  My mother had been afraid of admitting there might be something mentally wrong with her.  I was more afraid of ending up like my mother.

When I decided to have a child, I doubled down.  I didn't want to be a negative impact on her life.  I didn't want her to have to turn out poorly because of me or turn out okay in spite of me.  I read a bunch of books.  I went through more therapy.  I picked up some skills.  I'm better than I was when I started out, but I am afraid I'm still not who I want to be.  I don't know if I ever will be.  I'm honestly not sure if it's possible to become that close to perfect.  I'm not sure if other people are closer to perfect than me, care less about it, or have the same feelings and fears that I do.

My daughter can't be my purpose in life.  She will always be who I work for the most and who is most important in my life, but I can't set my goals around her.  I want to raise her to be self-sufficient and happy, and I don't want to feel like a failure if I can't make her read as early as I want or become as popular as I'd like.  I need to set specific goals that I can control and that won't infringe upon her space and growth. 

I don't want to run a marathon because it sounds unpleasant.  (Yes, now I'm just listing what I don't want.)  I don't want to register for any kind of race, actually.  I'd like to have something that quantitative as a goal though.  That kind of training seems pretty straight-forward and logical, and I like those qualities.

I don't want to have housekeeping-based goals anymore.  I've tried them, but my house is in a contact state of entropy, and while beating back the chaos and disarray is important, it's not fulfilling or gratifying.  It's easier to make it a routine and try to forget I'm doing it while distracting myself with podcasts.

My therapist suggested finding biological family as a goal, but it seems infinite.  I found my father, but I can't find any more half-siblings unless they take DNA tests.  I also can't make people want to talk to me.  It also sort of makes me feel worse.  Every time I make a connection or learn something new, it gives me a little high, but the highs aren't sustainable.  Then I'm left with the lingering feeling that I will never feel like I belong, even in my own family, and when I see people who are embraced by their families, my own exclusion feels more sharply painful and I can't help but feel like this situation is my fault.  Maybe if I'd been cleverer, they'd like me better.  Maybe if I'd gotten a PhD, he'd talk to me.  I don't like feeling this way.  Looking for family is like a bad drug.

I would like help.  I'm not particularly depressed at this point in my life.  I feel this fact is important to point out.  I just don't have a purpose or any goals really, and I would like help making some.  They don't need to be important, but I need to learn to believe they are.  I hesitate to post this here because I try to make this blog about true stories and family secrets, but I guess this might count as a secret:  I've never felt like I belonged here.  I'm afraid I never should have been here.  I also hesitate to post this because I know some people actually see this blog, unlike the journal where I started this post, which is only read by me and possibly the NSA, and I'm afraid someone will tell me I'm a horrible, ungrateful person for having these feelings.  I don't like being called horrible and ungrateful.  I have some issues with it.  Anyway, I recognize that I'm very privileged and very fortunate.  It's not my life I have a problem with, just my perception. 

One of the reasons I started this blog was to get some stories out of my system.  I don't want to hang onto them anymore, not the ones that make me angry or sad, and writing them down helps me feel okay with forgetting them, and it helps me not to want to talk about them all the time.  Another reason was because ten or twenty years ago I set myself the goal of writing down all the things that my mother forbid me to talk about and publishing it into a book called We Told You Not to Tell, after the Anne Lamott quote on writing about family ("If your childhood was less than ideal, you may have been raised thinking that if you told the truth about what really went on in your family, a long bony white finger would emerge from a cloud and point at you, while a chilling voice thundered, 'We told you not to tell!' But that was then.").  I was angry, and I was tired of the secrets and lies.  The writing helps with that.  It makes me feel sane and heard.  It also feels like an amusing vengeance project that would make my mother's head explode if she knew about it, in spite of its anonymity.

I don't know how to end this post.  I just needed to get this out.

1 comment:

  1. Great honest piece. It makes so much sense that you feel the way you do having experienced what you have.

    Though we come from different places, I'm in a similar situation of trying to discover my purpose in life. I also question why am I here though for different reasons. It took me two years to recognize that I was depressed and needed help. What I've done is change my focus from trying to find my purpose to just try to enjoy life.

    What you are going through isn't easy and I hope that one day it all makes sense.

    ReplyDelete