baby / family / myself

Best Supporting Actor

I am a sensitive person, perhaps oversensitive. I get upset for my family members when they are mistreated. I take it personally. It burns me up, consuming my mind, as I try to understand the logic or rationale behind someone else’s actions.

The other night, as I was angrily nursing Abraham to sleep (angry at a situation, not my precious nursling), I had a possibly life changing realization. Something I have known but finally sunk in.

It isn’t about me.

Do you ever watch a movie or read a book and feel like you are the main character? This happens to me a lot, I feel like I take on the emotional life of the main character. (Side note: I once took an empathy test, an online test to see if you have Asperger’s syndrome (I don’t) and I scored way above normal on empathy.) I think this is happening to me in real life too. I’m taking on someone else’s anger. I’m letting myself be hurt by actions that were not meant for me.

I have become the supporting actor in my own movie. My life isn’t about me.

That sounds strange to say, maybe even depressing, but after a moment, I found it to be freeing. My job here, in the movie now, is to support, is to let someone else’s story shine.

I had my chance (David said, when I had accomplished my career goal of acting professionally and burned out at 28, that I hit my mid-life crisis.) – I have had my dream job, I have travelled to amazing places and had great adventures, I have pursued my passions, I am experiencing true love.

As a mother to an infant, it is hard impossible to keep the starring role. A friend told me, after I quit my job (one of them…) after I realized I couldn’t keep up with it and a baby, that “Women could have it all, just not at the same time.” Maybe that isn’t true for everyone, but it is for me. I thought I could do all things, be all things, all at the same time. But I can’t. And it is ok. It is even really good for me to learn that lesson. Abraham needs me now in a way he never will again. I want to enjoy it, not rush through it.

As a step-mother, I definitely don’t have the starring role. Step-parenting is a supporting position. Again, it is ok. The kids need supportive adults in their lives. I am not their mom, but I am one of their parents, and I try to be present for them without being pushy. I’m waiting stage left in case they need me.

As a stay-at-home wife, I’m a supporting actor too. I’m obviously contributing to the family, taking care of keeping the house clean, full of food (sometimes even cooked food!), comfortable, and alive. Not literally, but you know…functioning for all of us. David comes home from work and talks to me about interesting physics he figured out (and that I don’t really understand), and I tell him how much dog hair I vacuumed up and the cute thing Abraham did that day. Not exactly world changing stuff from me, but if I weren’t doing it, our family’s world would be very different.

I’ve been reflecting on my personality lately, and I don’t even know if I am main character material. I am shy. I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. I don’t really like talking on the phone to anyone (except my family). I have passion, but not ambition. I am a quiet leader, preferring to lead by example than to rally the masses. This is not necessarily the make up of a main character.

I keep telling myself that in 5 years, Abraham will go to school and I can be a person again. I can begin to take my time rather than stealing it. I can really practice yoga again, make theatre, engage in my community. Until then, I’ll be here when you need me.

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4 thoughts on “Best Supporting Actor

  1. Vicki, this post brought me to tears. Not because it broke my heart. But more because I have never seen or heard anyone put into words the things I have felt or experienced for so long. Like you, I have an unexplainable, ridiculous empathy issue. I am literally consumed by the emotional experiences of others be it happiness, sadness, anger, etc. It effects me emotionally AND physically. My skin will literally break out. I’ll get the sweats. I’ll cry and twitch and become completely unable to focus on the things I need to focus on. But I never really stop to remind myself that the situations have nothing to do with me personally. Reading this really hit home for me.
    I can tell you that, in 5 years, you still may not become a person again. And you just might. Just don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t. For me, it didn’t happen that way. Now that my boys are 9 and 11, I’m slowly beginning to have instances in which I am the main character in my story. But if I’m being completely honest, I’m not all that sure I want to be in that spotlight for more than a few minutes here and there. I’m pursuing my desire to be a counselor and that makes certain things more about me. But let me just say, I don’t believe there will ever come a day when my role as a supporting actor isn’t much more important than any other role in my life. And that’s ok. I’ve come to prefer it, actually. In fact, I think a part of me craves and needs it.
    Just continue to follow your heart and keep yourself open to changes and transformations. As cheesy as it may sound, just enjoy the ride.

    • I’m glad you could connect with my words/thoughts.

      You know, as I was falling asleep last night, one of my last thoughts was “Who am I kidding – 5 years til I’m a person…more like 25” But that is ok. As much as I feel like I use my blog to complain, I have everything I need and I have a wonderful family. I usually enjoy the ride very much. 🙂

  2. I’ve often secretly envied people who just seem to “live”. They don’t think too much about every little thing, don’t analyze or think about things like identity or their purpose — they just live. They “do”. For better or for worse, I am not wired that way. Sometimes, I’m grateful for that. Other times, it feels like a burden.
    I think that’s why I like teaching, making theatre, making anything, really — it takes me out of my head, and allows me to “do”.
    Right now, your “doing” involves a very important little guy — and an important big guy and two more important kiddos. But you’re still Vicki — you’re still funny and smart and creative and passionate and compassionate and you bring those things with you to whatever you do — whether it’s doing theatre or teaching or taking care of a baby, a family, a home.
    The ground is always shifting under our feet, isn’t it? Just when we think we have things figured out — we have ourselves figured out — something happens, something changes, sometimes by choice, sometimes by circumstance, and we find ourselves losing our footing again.
    You’re still there, Vick — I see you. I see you in your blog and facebook posts and in the pictures you post. You may feel like you’re “disappearing” into motherhood, but you’re there, clear as day. You’re still part of an ensemble — just a different kind of ensemble.
    xoxo

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