I’m finally doing it. I’ve started other blogs before, but they never stuck, and I think it was for a number of reasons, mostly because I didn’t really have anything to write about. I just knew I wanted to write, but the idea of what I had to say was so vague. And I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. Given that I don’t even feel like I know who I am in general at this point, it’s no surprise that I was so lost before. I was trying to fit in with the mold of the prototype “So Cal-Orange County” family, and I’ve at least figured out in the past year or so, that is SO not me.
But as for who I am – that’s another story.
I’ve come to a slow realization that I’ve never really known “who” I am. I thought I did. I knew I was half-White and half-Mexican. I knew I was middle-class. I knew I was smart. And that was just about good enough until my late teens, when I think I was in need of an identity. But without having something real to anchor and build an identity from, I came up with something, which was an eating disorder.
And then I had to grow up. Found a career, met a guy, got married, had kids. ED doesn’t fit in with being an adult very well, and since I was a rule-follower and concerned with pleasing people and presenting a good image, I even lost that piece of me (which I acknowledge is a good thing, overall.) But talk about having no identity. Once that first baby is born, life is forever about your kids, and when you stop starving yourself, and take meds for anxiety and depression, you gain weight. And you’re married, so you’re “off-the-market” so to speak. So you become invisible. Well, at least I did. My kids were (are) super cute, my husband is popular, and I got fat. It feels like people just look right past me, like I’m transparent.
So then I decided, “Well, I’m still smart. I’ll go with that.” And I start applying for jobs to promote within my career. Except I don’t really want to promote, I’m content with what I’m doing, but I’m applying for positions due to the professional “peer pressure,” and as the universe is known to do, it knows better than me, so I don’t get anything, because I shouldn’t. I don’t really want it, I’m going through the motions, and on some level, people could sense that. But I didn’t know it yet, so I was just demoralized, feeling like if I don’t have this going for me, then I have nothing. My psyche was broken, my heart was broken, and my body broke.
And it was probably the best thing that could have happened. I had to take some time off of work to focus on my health (Fibromyalgia), which had a bigger focus than I expected. It was all interrelated, the body pain, the fatigue, the apathy, the anxiety…all of it. And with the help of a good psychologist, I moved forward into the realm of, “What do I really want? Not what should I want, or what’s practical, or what other people think I should want, but what do I really and truly want?” And I realized I didn’t want more responsibility or more work in my current career, but that I did feel under-stimulated, and like I wasn’t taking advantage of my intelligence, or stretching and challenging myself. But there is the real world to keep in mind, it’s not like I could just quit my job or change careers – we still have to pay the mortgage, and will have two boys in college in the next 5 years. And so a whole new world opened, where maybe I do my job as just a job, an 8-5 responsibility where I do my best while I’m there, but maybe my true interests are outside of the work day, and I do them because I want to, and not for pay, or advancement, or a degree. It was initially such a foreign concept for me. EVERYTHING I’ve ever done, since at least middle school, no, even elementary school, has been for some bigger purpose – to get into good classes, to get into college, to get a good job, to get a better job, to get more pay, to impress somebody and network, to get a promotion – it never ended. So as I started to reflect (homework assignment from the psychologist,) that’s when I started to make the connections between feeling like I don’t know who I am, and how much that has affected my identity, with some very significant consequences. I’ve always loved history, and I really enjoy doing research, so it seemed a natural fit that looking into my genealogy would be the perfect combination of those things, plus the added result of finally learning where I came from.
My parents had their own reasons for not elaborating much on our past, and I’m finding, it seems to be a family-trait, as I’m discovering things that seem like they should be common “family lore,” but I’ve never even heard of. I signed up with Ancestry.com on a Monday, April 23, 2018, and I think my world has changed. In 11 days, I’ve tracked one set of family to Ireland, and another great-grandfather 5 times removed to England. While my grandmother would say her side of the family (my “White” side) was a “Heinz-57” mix, some Scottish, some English, some Irish, I never knew there was an actual PLACE where these people came from. I had no connection to anywhere, besides a general “West Virginia.” But even regarding West Virginia, I’ve located the county where pretty much EVERYBODY from my grandmother’s side of the family (again, the “White” side) has been born and died since at least 1800. I can see it on Google Maps. I can plan a vacation and walk on the same roads my ancestors did, and for some reason, that moves me so much. It literally brings me to tears, right now, to think of walking on a country road next to a river, and know that generations of lives and stories and adventures and heartbreaks in those footsteps resulted in me.
So here we go. My journey. My story. My adventure.
I can’t wait.