Wednesday, February 08, 2012

the desert

Last night I had a dream. We took the kids to visit a desert, and Miles brought all his legos. I spent the bulk of the dream patiently digging around in the sand, trying to gather back up all the tiny colorful pieces. I spent hours of dream time on this task. From the distance I could hear roller-coaster sounds - the clicking up the climb, the screams when the cars raced down.

When I asked the internet what dreaming about a desert means, these are the words I found: loss, misfortune, barrenness, loneliness, feelings of isolation and hopelessness; a metaphor for feeling deserted and left behind; something has recently become a lot less meaningful and important to you; symbolic of your life as a whole and how you feel depressed in general or as if life is holding no meaning;

Depressed in general or as if life is holding no meaning. So overall it was a happy dream, right?

Brian and I have a marriage counselor. We see her once a week, and afterward we go to lunch together. The same place, the same meal: a shared salad and conchiglie with broccoli. Seeing our therapist together has helped us figure out why we were having the same handful of fights over and over (and over and over). And it has brought our hearts so much closer together (a tall order for two people parenting three little kids).

But you can't excavate a marriage without digging into all the mud and shit and sharp, pointy pain that came before we even met. (See e.g. my posts during november). And for me, it seems like this is all coming at a particularly significant time. We are finished having children. Our youngest is almost two, and all three kids are engaged in the broader world in a way that will only increase. The parts of myself that are Not Mother, which I set aside almost seven years ago, are stirring.

But I don't know how to feed them.

There is an idea that I have been turning around in my head for some time, and it is this: I suspect I might only have gone to law school to prove something to my father.

As a child, I instinctively sensed that I was not expected to be capable of doing the things my brothers could do. And consequently there was a certain irrelevance in everything I did. Because I was not a boy. And so I spent a good part of my childhood engaged in a pointless, Ten-Apples-Up-on-Top mission.

But over the years I figured out a loophole: my father seemed to have a certain begrudging respect for women who were smart, tough lawyers (there was a corresponding intense ridicule for the not-so-smart ones). Combine this with growing up under the constant specter of financial insolvency (although we went to private school, lived in a nice house, my father drove a porsche and when I collapsed in tears the first thursday night of every month over the prospect of not having a new outfit for free-dress day at school, someone always took me to the mall to buy clothes) and going to law school seemed like a good thing to do with my double English/History major.

And when my younger brother went to a top-ten law school? Well, I went a top-five law school. (Look here, you two. See here, you two. I can get five on top. Can you? I am so good. I will not stop. Five! Now six! Now seven on top!)

I don't want to be a lawyer. But damn, I worked so hard (and borrowed so much money) to become one. It seems stupid not to use these skills I have.

But lawyering does not feed my soul. In fact, it seems to choke of my soul's air supply instead.

Depressed in general or as if life is holding no meaning.

"Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness." -Freud

I have no work right now. My babies were work, until they weren't babies anymore. And now?

“To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality is.”
― C.G. Jung


Lennette said...

Thinking of you, H! Maybe you won't use your law degree directly, but hey--law school is where you met Brian and began a huge new chapter in life--that's got to be worth the $100k debt.... :)

GKelly said...

I read this yesterday and last night dreamt that I moved back to Phoenix and was working in advertising again. Hmmm . . . my own desert perhaps.

Andrew said...

That dream is pretty cool actually. The roller-coaster sounds like pregnancy itself: the clicking ascent (ticking down the days to birth), the screaming descent (the chaos of a newborn), and perhaps even the shape of the thing (the convex bulging of the roller-coaster hill as a stomach).

It also occurs to me that legos are toys which have no specific outcome. It's up to the person using them. The opposite of a jigsaw puzzle. Seems like a nice representation of a child taking control of their own self image.

-- Freud, Jr.

Anonymous said...

True, that dream was about much more than a desert. I mean, legos! You can't go too wrong with that!
I'm glad to hear about your husband. You'd written about being betrayed, as though it hit you in a place deeper than your relationship with your husband. Seems you getting help is evidence that you are in your own good hands.