I have discovered that the risk of giving everything up for someone – or rather not for them but to follow them . . . is that you risk losing yourself.
When you are faced with the choice I faced in life, you either make a choice to keep your identity – as it is – minus the person you love… or walk away from your definition of you in order to keep that person in your life. That might sound rather dramatic, but it’s not. If you chose the latter, you make a choice to walk away from your life as it is in that moment – your identity where you were in life and who you know yourself as. You have to, because you are making a change that uproots all of those things.
It’s not that the other person asks this of you. My husband certainly didn’t. It’s not even that you accept that this is what will happen to you. I mean, yes, you make a choice knowing you are giving up things (house, job, people) & open to welcoming a change – but you don’t go into that choice really understanding the layers of what will come after that moment. You simply make a choice to follow what is important in your life.
However, what I have discovered is that you run the risk of forgetting that you have an identity outside that choice. I am not sure how to explain that, necessarily, but I am going to try. . .
You put all your energy into that choice – there are so many logistics to take care of, so many people you have to defend your choice to, multiple layers of things in your life that are affected – so, all of you has to be 100% on board for that change. You aren’t simply making a change that affects one area of your life (a new job, a new house)… it’s like having a child, your whole life changes! Everything about your world is redefined and you are exhausted & exhilarated by that shift.
Actually, ….the correlation between where I am at today and having a child is a really good one, so I’m going to go with it!
When you have a child… when you get pregnant – your entire life (your whole job) becomes about that life. It’s a life inside you, yet apart from you. Everything shifts. Your free time, your diet, your ideas, your ideals, your energy level, how you spend your money, …your everything! You give up a portion of your identity to be a mom. And, at some point, you realize… wow, I have no life outside that choice/I am not sure I know who I am outside my child. It’s not that you don’t have your own personality, another job outside being a mom, or a strength that makes you who you are, but it’s all wrapped up and intertwined with that little life. At some point, they grow up and leave and they leave you without a big part of how you defined yourself and your life.
The choice I made to follow my husband to another country is so similar in form to the choice to have a child. You run the risk of forgetting that you have an identity outside that choice because your whole world IS that choice.
I find that, on the other side of making the choice to come here, I am having to redefine myself. It’s not even necessarily a bad thing – I get the opportunity to redefine much of my life and that is a wonderful opportunity. But, I didn’t realize just how much I would have to do that. I suppose, just as I never expected when I became pregnant that my world would become more about my child then about my own needs. I had no idea when I had my son that I would have to redefine my whole picture of who I was as a person, as an employee, as a friend, as a woman. I find myself facing those challenges all over again.
I came here thinking I had it all under control (as much as possible) – I knew what I could do for my job, I knew how I could educate my son, I knew what to bring so I could make a home. I also knew there would be surprises and challenges and knew I could handle them.
I never thought that all those things would essentially crumble in the Universe’s attempt to push me to redefine my life, myself. I am discovering that I have to allow change to be part of my joy.
…When we have a child, we willingly (if not with a little regret) change our diets. Although we crave that glass of wine, or sushi meal, we understand that it’s part of the choice we are making. There is so much joy, that the pains are worth it. In my life now, I thought myself open to all of the things in my life that had to change to make this shift in my life. I forgot that I have to allow my identity to change. I guess I figured I would still be the same me — the strong woman who could face anything and find happiness on the other end. Truth be told, that woman is still there, but she’s no longer the woman I was before this happened. She… I … changed. Just as I changed when I became a mom.
Back to my original point, by making the choice I did to follow my husband to his homeland, I forgot that I have an identity outside that choice. I am not sure what that identity is right now – since it is drastically changing – but I am at peace recognizing that I have to find it for myself. It gives me a renewed vigor to allow myself that journey … and know that I am not simply wandering without purpose in life.