What Defines Us...


I believe I have mentioned a few times this summer how I feel incredibly lost this year. Like all the things that have felt like 'me', or defined me, in the past are slowly disappearing one by one.

My late teens and my twenties were dominated by sleepless nights and days that felt like nightmares due to my mother's mental breakdowns and many hospitalisations, her daily abuse of me in words both spoken and written (and on very rare and very tense occasions physical), and my role as her daughter and in many ways caretaker was ALL consuming. Then, as I detached, many years followed where my hatred of her lingered and I honestly believed that what she had put me through had permanently made me a cold hearted disaster of a human being.

Then at 26 and with the arrival of our first child, and 1Β½ years later our second, my new role as a mother very much defined my time and in many ways me too. And simultaneously I started my own business as a wedding photographer and that became ALL consuming. For the past decade my inner (and also outer) life has felt like RELENTLESS struggle to create any semblance of balance between those two parts of my life, of me: the mother and the creator.

And through it all, for the past 16 years, I have held on to my rock, my husband. Who was always, despite his own flaws, my source of stability and normalcy. And who I must give proper credit to for sticking by me while I sorted through the mess I was in the wake of my mother troubled life choices.

But this year, four defining factors have shifted or disappeared:

1. I have reached a level of comfort and forgiveness and relaxation in my relationship to my mother that I would have NEVER thought possible! I have let go of SO much crap, of so much deeply rooted anger and resentment and hatred and self-pity. All of that no longer defines me. And I have been able to welcome her into my home and our kids' lives several times now and still been able to hold on to those positive feelings.

2. Both our children have now reached an age where, although they obviously still need me, their urgent physical and bodily attachment is very much over, and they can take care of most of their practical needs throughout the day on their own.

3. This is the year where I after 10 years as a wedding photographer is ultimatetely giving up not only the better part of my secure and stable income, but also a part of my creative side which has been a constant source of praise, admiration and success.

4. And finally, my husband and I have been untangling some longstanding disagreements and issues, which means that my underlying foundation of stability has also been a source of instability.

The result of all of this is that I currently have no sense of self. I feel stripped inside. I know in my rational mind and with a good dose of perspective that my situation is by no means dire. I have everything I need and could ever ask for. What I am talking about here is exclusively my inner life, my heart.

I feel, as always, convinced that the right way ahead will materialise. My path will reveal itself eventually and all I need to do is have the courage to grab it and follow it when it does. But it sure is taking its time this time around. And in my impatience, I am slowly beginning to wonder if maybe the universe is waiting for me to take care of myself first. To get my daily habits and self-care back in place before it thrusts me into something new. So to try out my theory, I will spend the remaining months of this year (my favourite season) working intentionally and focused on just two things:

1. What I eat (eliminating sugar and gluten from my diet (again) to free myself of the brain fog that always follows)

2. My activity level (more walks with Molly, going for a run when I feel like it, doing my yoga and meditation sequence on quiet mornings, and get back into the gardening now that things are finally growing again, to clear my head, exhaust my body, enhance my sleep quality, and boost positive thoughts).

I would love to know what specific areas you focus on whenever you feel beside yourself and want to get back on track?