Yesterday, I dared tweet about loneliness in the face of all three kids being away at school. It was half-hearted, more of a twee than full tweet. Fly, my sweet little birds, leave this empty nest. Whatever shall I do with myself – make wan impulse buys on Anthropologie? I think yes.
Then the school nurse called, and my oldest kid came home puking.
Then my middle kid came home with head lice.
So IDK, the universe hates me.
Last post, a couple of comments came in that made me think. Gretchen said (in part) “I have never fully understood why you were to reticent about sharing your blogging. But, I know I don’t know your whole story and I don’t know your other life at all.”
Amanda B said (also in part) “Im so friggen excited about all this new found UN anne-nemity so-to-speak. But somehow I feel like im on the outside of an inside joke… how did i miss this decision?”
So I guess this is the part where I also start coming out to you.
Before I had kids, I was trained to do a job which has the basic description of Secret Keeper. My fingers are a little shaky on the keyboard with that confession. As I’m sure other Secret Keeper-type professionals out there can attest, it’s pretty hard to go through training and not have those ideals eventually permeate your personality. Because basically, if you are a priest, or the holder of nuclear weapons launch codes (or both. Wink-wink) nobody wants to see you drunk at a party, telling off-color jokes. It just makes people uncomfortable.
There are more complex layers to it than that, but that’s the easiest one to explain. The trickle-down life of someone trained in Secret Keeping (for me, at least) was that eventually, common place behaviors that bond new mothers together (small-town gossip, vulnerable self-disclosure, etc.) were things I felt like I shouldn’t do. I ended up pretty isolated.
When I started this blog at 31, protecting the promise of that job was high priority, because what would I do for money if I didn’t have the one thing I was trained to do?
I’ll be 39 in December, and I was going around with my husband for the millionth time about how I was afraid to do things with my life now because it might hurt my ability to do that job. Finally, he said to me, “How long are you planning on living?”
We both laughed, because: duh, right? How long should I put off doing what I want to do with this life, all in the name of protecting a job I haven’t done in ten years and don’t plan on going back to in the foreseeable future?
My mother changed jobs when she was in her forties. My dad nearly died, and Mom realized she couldn’t take care of three kids by herself, so she went back to school. One of her first jobs was working at a woman’s shelter. She would say to me over and over that year, “Death, divorce, disability, disinterest. No matter what, Anne, make sure you have a way to support yourself.”
Letting go of the promise of that job I trained for is terrifying. I spent a butt-load of my life and money on it. But I’m old enough that the fear of not ever becoming who I am supposed to be is even more frightening. Being stuck between those fears sucks, but it is wonderful too.
Finally, I will confess that when I went to Comic Con, I met someone face-to-face who had only known me from the blog. First time in eight years of total anonymity.
Nothing bad happened. Seal on the floor didn’t crack into massive, smoking crevice for me to fall into. My face didn’t melt off in the horrible explosion of Anne and me blending into one person on the streets of San Diego. I didn’t pee myself. It was actually really nice. So! I don’t know what to do next, but whatever it is, I’m gonna do it.
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