I don’t know exactly when it happened.
I definitely felt it building, but I couldn’t exactly grasp what was happening until they were gone.
And I didn’t even know they were gone until I was smacked in the face with the reality of it.
The fact that I’ve lost hold of my dreams. And that I don’t know how to dream anymore.
And it is painful how much I miss it.
I didn’t even realize that this was something that I was dealing with until my husband approached me with the simple question, “What do you want for your birthday?” In that moment, my mind was blank. Completely blank. Not in the way of, “Oh I can’t think of what I’d like right now, but I’ll keep you posted.” It was a blackness and nothingness kind of blank. I was struggling to grasp even a simple thought behind what I like, what I don’t like, something I’d like to do, somewhere I’d like to go, something I would like to see… I had nothing.
Seconds later I felt a snap, sort of like being electrically shocked awake, and what followed was what can best be described as a venomous, ranting verbal explosion on my poor husband that sounded something like this:
“I don’t know what I want because I don’t know anything about myself anymore. I don’t know what I like. I don’t know what I hate. I don’t have hobbies or interests or free time to even do those things if I wanted to. I don’t have any dreams for myself or for our lives anymore. I’ve forgotten how to dream! Or to hope for or want for anything. My entire life consists of taking care of you and the kids and working HARD and everything else, and I come last, if there even is a spare moment to take care of myself or even get a simple hot shower. So yeah, I’m turning 35 years old and I can’t even tell you one single thing that I want because I’ve lost myself in the last 4 years!”
I regret that it came out they way it did, and on my clueless husband, but I don’t regret in essence what was said. Because even through the ugly uproar, there was so much truth and such a reality that has been brewing in the back of my mind for YEARS now that I didn’t even realize was happening. In a way, I spoke it to life and opened my own eyes to the way I was feeling, without even knowing I was feeling it.
I sat down that night, notebook in hand, with the goal of trying to really self-assess and figure out what was really going on. I started with baby steps. Write down something you dream of doing, seeing, going to, buying, experiencing… anything. I wracked my brain trying to come up with something and it felt like cruel game of tennis in my head, where I would toss up an idea and send it on its way and negative thoughts, self-doubt, guilt, shame, and general ugliness would sock it right back, laughing at me and saying, “Oh come on! You can’t do that. It will never happen! You don’t have the time. You don’t have the money. You need to be a better wife, a better mom, a better employee. Don’t be selfish! Don’t even waste your time thinking about it.”
This happened over and over and over until I was in heaving, breathless tears. I can’t dream anymore. I am defeated.
Somewhere in the years of growing and birthing two babies and changing jobs, losing a job, starting a new job, supporting my spouse in a new job, buying and maintaining a home and every other curve ball that adulthood throws at you… I lost myself.
Mothers are the hardest working women. We throw every single ounce of our being into our families and caring for everyone else. It may be our role, our duty or whatever you want to call it. But I sincerely do not believe that God had it in his heart for a women to cease to live, thrive, grow and dream at the expense of raising a family. How did we get here?
Even as I think through this and type it out I feel like I’m being selfish. Like a little girl stomping her feet and exclaiming, “What about me?!” With so many influences and voices in our life telling us what is right and wrong, good and bad, valuable or not, it’s hard to seek out the truth. We live in a society of impossible standards. Impossible standards that we are all absolutely drowning in.
It’s been weeks since my birthday (yikes I’m 35!) but I’ve been mulling all of this over in my head almost every day since my husband’s fateful question. I don’t have total clarity yet but I do know that something has got to give. Something has to change. Because I DO MATTER. My dreams DO MATTER. And that a life without dreams, without passions, wishes, desires, is hopeless. I’ve survived two years of the darkest, ugliest depression and anxiety I could ever imagine. I do NOT want to live a hopeless life anymore. I deserve a hope-FILLED life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10
This verse jumped out at me the other day. Jesus didn’t say that he came for us to sort of exist and to do our roles and duties and just “be”. He came for us to have LIFE and to have it to the FULL. I love the version that says to have “life abundantly”. Oh my goodness, I could use some abundance right now. Couldn’t we all?
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how I’m going to make the changes. My guess is that it’s going to take all the small steps in the opposite direction of where all of this started several years ago. Carving out 15 minutes of quiet time each day to being to reprogram my thoughts and to spend some time enriching who I am. In effect, I am learning how to dream again. And that brings me so much hope. And hope certainly doesn’t disappoint.
What inspires you to dream?