I have a confession to make. Yes, another one. Another shameful, dirty, secret, secret. It’s the reason I’ve been so remiss in writing (it’s been plaguing my thoughts and making me about as fun to be around as a pube-speckled bar of soap):
I don’t know who I am.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. I know–big fat stinkin’ deal. You were hoping for a salacious shameful, dirty, secret, secret. A great fat juicy one, like, maybe, I slyly channel Mrs. Robinson and exploit my own Ben Braddock on the third Thursday of every month, or that I have a clitoral piercing that tickles when I walk, or that when I say I’m just running out to Home Depot to get a washer for the drippy tap, I’m really getting away from the house to conduct my side-business as the Madam of a high-cost escort service (politicians and professionals only, naturally).
Sorry to disappoint. But I’m not that fun. The best and most revealing thing I can tell you about myself is, I don’t know who I am. Who does, really, other than Seymour Glass, Arjuna, or the Dalai Lama?
But I can’t really model myself on one of them: one’s fictional (and dead), one’s mythological (and dead), and one is fully booked up into my next life giving keynote speeches (after which time, I’ll be dead). So, outside of saying: this is how many kids I have, or this is how many times I’ve been married, or this is the job I go to every day, or this is how old I am, or this is my astrological sign, or this is what color my hair is, really, I have no way to define myself. Except, that I’m a desperate, confused, conflicted, raging maniac.
And so I smile–most of the time. I pretend I am what I imagine other people see in me: smart, attractive, brave, kind, snide, flippant, standoffish, and haughty. And I pretend to be the person other people see me being: a mother, a wife, a writer, an editor, a daughter, a sister, a friend. Sometimes. Today. The weight of these things is, at one time, heavy and ethereal. All at once, I feel the full weight on gravity pushing me deeper and deeper into myself and the ground, and then in an instant, I feel like smoke, formless and drifting and unable to grab hold of anything, anyone, myself. Sometimes, I want so desperately to throw this, them, everything off, and disappear so that I might discover who I am, what I am, why I am.
But what does this have to do with you? For that matter, what does this have to do with me? It’s just philosophical navel-gazing, right? Yet everything I touch is touched by this, every person in my life grazes up against this crazy black hole. And what does that do to the people I love? These are people I chose or got stuck with, and people who chose or got stuck with me. I want so desperately, like most parents, for my children to have a better life than I have. I sometimes desperately wish that I could restrict that desire for them to having a bigger house, a nicer car, a fatter bank account, or a slimmer ass, but I’m saddled with this constant searching that makes me almost obsessively crave completeness for my kids. To have the real, true gift of knowing themselves. But now the crux: how do I teach them, or model for them, how to be whole when I’m so unsure myself.
So where does this leave me? No where new. No where different. Where does this leave them? Sadly, but honestly, on their own. It’s crazy really. I love them madly, insanely, and often, madly wish they’d leave me alone–maybe so I could find a way to just be with them. Maybe so I could find a way to just be with myself. See, what I tell you about being a desperate, confused, conflicted, raging maniac. I’ve been here before. It’ll pass. But right now, it’s sad. I want so much to be so much more than the person who buys their groceries, cooks their meals, goes to their parent-teacher interview, hold their hands. I want to be the woman and mother they deserve (and the woman and mother I deserve too). But for right now, I’ll just keep pretending. Fake it til you make it, right?
I suppose we really are, at the end of the day, only a light unto ourselves. We are what we come into the world with, and the only thing we leave the world with, but it doesn’t stop me thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking and wishing and wanting to be more.
My grandmother used to say, “If ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.” Sweet Jesus, what I wouldn’t give for a nice dose of ignorance right now.
I’ll just have to settle for a Scotch.