Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection
Someone I don’t know?
It turns out the kids do well with school when Disney music is playing. The above lyrics are from Mulan, before the village girl becomes the great warrior she is destined to be.
I never before realized how much of my sense of self-worth was tied into my job. I have been employed since I was 14, first as a busser at TGI Friday’s, then into retail, waiting tables, being a mental health worker at a residential facility for children, being a paralegal, and finally as a legal editor for the last 13 1/2 years. I was unemployed for a few weeks last year while I was between editing jobs, but this stint since June has been the longest I’ve been unemployed since I was a teenager.
I don’t even know who I am anymore.
The days fade away into a blur of school and parenting.
I wonder how I was able to get out of bed before and get started on my work so quickly. I wonder how I managed to fit so much into each day, when now it seems I just drag from hour to hour. I wonder what quality of work I did—was I good at it? I wonder if I was chosen to be let go because of my work quality, my personality, my ability or inability to become part of the team? Or was it something else entirely that shaped their decisions of who to let go? I will never know.
I used to be entranced with Facebook, and now I can barely stand to open the app. I don’t want to hear anything about politics anymore, and it seems that’s all that is in my Facebook feed. My friends, people I know in real life, rabidly politicize everything, refusing to see the good in people on the other side of the political aisle. People I’ve never met in real life are the only ones I even want to interact with anymore. Something broke in me when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, when within three hours both political sides were scrambling to fight again, this time over someone I truly considered a hero, a role model. She deserved better. She deserved a beautiful memorial, not a fight (or at least a memorial before the war began). I just don’t have any more fight in me.
And then there are the family troubles. Not with my side of the family—my family is great—but with Chad’s. They are having a huge family feud, and my children are the losers. My children were abandoned by their aunt and uncle, people they really cared about. My children witnessed those people yell and swear at their mother right in front of them, all while telling me that I was a shitty person who shouldn’t mention their abandonment in front of the children. (I believe the exact phrase used by my darling brother-in-law was “you’re a fucking dumbass and always have been.”) As if the kids didn’t notice that their aunt refused to see them, refused to return their texts, refused even to say goodbye before moving across the country. As if they didn’t notice their uncle angrily grabbing his child by the armpits and leaving without a hug, without a goodbye, on their last night in the state? It’s messed up.
I’m so tired of the fighting. Chad and I finally were able to find common ground again and stop fighting, but it seems the rest of the world is exploding in conflict. I just don’t have any more fight in me. Call me what you will. I don’t care anymore.
When did I become this person? When did I stop being someone I could recognize, someone with goals and dreams and ambition?
Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?
I wonder if getting a job would renew my sense of purpose. I wonder if it’s too late, if the illusion is broken, if the mirror will ever again show my true reflection. Or is this the true reflection, and the other one was an illusion?
All I want is to love and be loved—for me, for my kids, for the world. I want the reflection to show a loving and lovable person, someone who cares and someone who tries to make a difference in the world. Someone who is admirable.
When will my reflection show who I am inside?