We’ve been here for less than two weeks, and I haven’t really seen myself in that time – though now I am beginning to wonder if it’s been a lot longer. And whether that really has anything to do with the inability to see my reflection.
What I look like can’t have changed, not that quickly, but the desperation I feel, the sense of disconnection that has stemmed from not being able to see myself, bewilders me.
I am not a vain person. Ask anyone. I have never followed fashion trends, I rarely wear shoes, I get my hair cut once every 6-12 months (yes, months, with the occasional self-trim in between). I have no particular sense of style, though I know what I like. I don’t wear makeup often, and the only time I dedicate to my hair is to colour it and run a brush through it on a regular basis.
So it’s not really about my reflection, not about the way I physically look. I can’t seem to see myself because there isn’t anyone here to remind me who I am.
Six weeks ago my husband landed a job so fantastic that it hadn’t even featured in his dreams because he didn’t know he could dream quite that big. We came here, to this new city, because he wanted bigger, better things for our family – a rewarding career for him, a more culturally diverse lifestyle for our children, access to all the potential that comes with being near a creative hub for me.
I came here because he asks for very little, and this was one of those great needs, and I love him enough to trust that he has the best interests of our whole family in mind, even if I am scared, or filled with grief over leaving the places and other people that I love.
Everything between then and now is a bit of a blur. There was a lot of denial (mine, of course). A lot of decluttering. A lot of thinking-about-packing-but-not-really. Plenty of driving, browsing for houses, open homes, and dealing with lawyers and banks and real estate agents.
And now we’re here, and everything is unpacked, and he is working, and the kids are feeling settled and I am… Well, to be honest, I don’t know what I am.
I don’t know who I am. It feels like so many pieces of who I was have been devoured by the monster that is moving. It has left me rudderless, yearning for someone, something to anchor me.
Who am I? Do I still exist?
What I am coming to realize though is that it’s easy to rely on others to tell me who I am. If I do certain things, tick certain boxes, I can attain titles that make me feel like a valuable person – mother, wife, volunteer, superwoman. In removing myself from my home, I have become mirrorless, and am forced to stop seeing reflections of myself. I can no longer use other people to define who I am. This is terrifying.
This is liberating.
Because I am the only one who can define me now, and my value can no longer be defined in terms of my usefulness to others, or in the ways that they see me. This is something I have struggled with for so very long. I can feel this raw thrum of energy slowly beginning to beat inside me. It is new life, it is choice, it is wild and chaotic and exciting.
This. This is who I am.
Fierce mother, creator. Lover, sister, daughter. I am compassionate, and brave, and strong and vulnerable. And I am these things because I claim them. Not because anyone else is here to tell me that it’s so.