What does individuation mean anyway?

I have been thinking about this constantly for months. What is it I got out of fucking people other than Noah? How does that help me have an individual self?

For one thing, it is about making a choice with my body about my body that isn’t about Noah.

I haven’t made many choices in the last ten years that didn’t have Noah as a strong influencing factor if my choices didn’t flat revolve around him. I moved into his house. I manage his money as respectfully as I can to ensure that he has a safe and comfortable old age. I do a lot of cleaning and organizing because it makes the house easier to live in and he agrees that I’m right. My work does improve his life.

Sometimes it is hard to feel like our children aren’t his children. Which is stupid and bullshit. I wanted these kids. I want them so much my heart aches. But I still feel like a nanny to his kids a lot of the time. It doesn’t help that just recently I’m feeling shitty about the fact that I’m the awful parent who enforces rules and academics and he is fun. I’m not very fun.

I interact with a lot of people. Is it for me? That’s such a weird question.

I spend a lot of time listening to people. I love it. I seek it out. I’m a great listener. I often wonder if people see me when I’m listening to them or am I taking the place of a useful stuffed animal? Sometimes I wonder who there is to see if someone looks at me.

I’m told I am “so strong” because I have “overcome” so much. I don’t feel strong and I don’t feel like I have overcome. Yes, I’m not poor anymore. Yes, I did get an education. So?

What do any of these things mean? I know people who went through college and had absolutely no individuation in any way. They participate in their parents sorority/fraternity and hang out with the children of people their parents knew. They marry the kind of person they are supposed to and occupy the position in society that was more or less carved for them at birth.

I really do know a lot of kinds of people.

I know people who live in extreme generational poverty and who will probably never escape that cycle even though they have “overcome” great hurdles in terms of mental health problems or domestic violence.

What are we overcoming? What does that mean?

I’m not in a political fight. There is no competition in my life. What have I overcome? My family of origin? My own inner desire to ensure that everything in my life turns to shit as proof that it was all meant to be to start with?

Not everything I touch turns to shit. There are things I do well. I am a good teacher. I was a good teacher to other peoples’ children and I think I am a good teacher to my children.

What does it mean to be a teacher? For me, part of being a teacher has always been the ability to set aside my point of view and figure out why someone isn’t understanding something then back fill the schema necessary to help them understand.

It’s god damn exhausting.

Am I an individual when I do that? I feel like I give up bits of my personality over and over in this process. I am not an individual. I am a sliver of a thing greater than myself and I need to tap into that connection we all share in order to help you.

Is that individuation or melding?

I am scared to fucking death that when people think/say/hear “Krissy Gibbs” they will think, “Oh–Noah’s wife” or “______’s mom”.

I feel selfish and terrible because I want to be something other than an accessory to their lives. I don’t want to be the brood mare. I really don’t.

Which is kinda stupid. There are people all over the damn country who know me and who barely know Noah and who have only a nodding relationship with my children. Why isn’t that enough? Why do I feel so damn small?

Because for a very large chunk of the last 10 years my life has been inside my house cleaning. Woo.

Sometimes one of my female friends will indicate that the level of cleanliness in my house causes them to feel bad. Want to know something funny? When I go to their houses and I see the chaos I feel like, “Ah. Signs of someone with something better to do than clean. I feel envy.”

The grass is always greener.

I hate myself for my feelings. I feel deeply inferior to the women in my life who have jobs and careers and who help people and who accomplish things other than cleaning the kitchen.

But I don’t want to stop home schooling my kids. I really don’t. I would not give this up for a $250k/year job. I really wouldn’t.

So what the fuck. I created this bind and now I bitch and bitch and bitch about it.

Having babies is not a thing to do with a life. A life is bigger than that.

I miss teaching. I miss that feeling of connection. I god damn loved having a benevolent dictatorship where people came to learn in an environment where I set the rules. Ok, my house is that exact same dynamic only bigger. My students had a very strong sense of me as a person.

Sometimes I wonder if my students had a better sense of me than my children because my students had more perspective. My children barely view me as a human being separate from them. My children barely perceive me as getting to go pee without them.

Fuck. I’m about to lose the ability to use the toilet alone again for years. Sob.

I feel so incredibly torn. I want another baby. I really do. I want to meet this child. I love my kids so much I feel pain when I think of them and I definitely want to sign up for more of this. But I have such mixed feelings. Noah calls the way we handle babyhood the “high intensity version of parenting” and I call it “idiocy combined with little support network”.

I kind of give up the idea that I get to have needs in the first year of life. I exist as a life support unit. It really sorta sucks. But I pray it pays off in the long run. To be fair, my two existing children glow with attachment and health and love. Could I have done that with less effort? I’ll never know.

I am curious how it will go with two older children in the house who desperately want to bond with a baby. They won’t be adult support (I wouldn’t know what that was like anyway–not in an ongoing way) but they will be there to help play with a baby while I do the dishes. It’ll be different.

I’m still grateful that Sarah, Jenny, Andrew, and Paula babysat when Eldest Child was under a year old. Y’all are wonderful, amazing people to sit through that damn much crying. Holy shit that kid was hard. I did have some support. I can remember all the dates I got to have that first year. There weren’t many.

It isn’t that I have no support. I have some support. It is that it is sporadic and I can’t depend on it in an ongoing way. Not Sarah, not Jenny, not Paula nor Andrew will be around for Next Kid.

I’m not mad. I’m reflecting upon reality.

Why is it not worth it to me to let Noah date so that I can date if that is the easiest/best way for me to feel individuated at this stage?

Because I am honestly afraid I will not see my children become adults if I do. I really don’t like me very much. I’d kind of appreciate it if Noah replaced me so I could go. I can’t set up that possibility. It isn’t fair to anyone involved.

But that doesn’t mean I get to date and Noah doesn’t. That ain’t happening for a whole bunch of reasons.

Instead I’m flipping out in my house. I’m brittle and difficult and snippy. I’m being awful.

I need to find something that I can do by myself outside of my house that has no connection to my family or sex.

You know… maybe I could tutor at the library. It’s a small commitment. It’s local. It’s not a BIG THING. It’s not something Noah would find threatening. It would be small scale teaching. It would be contact with people outside my family.

I’ve been flailing for a while. I need to find an option to consider that is very different from what I’ve thought about so far. I’m not sure I can handle a hobby. They tend to consume my life. But I could find a way to have a 2-4 hour/week commitment to a volunteer thing. Noah would absolutely support that. He would shove my ass out the door with a big smile saying, “Have fun!”

It wouldn’t be threatening at all.

I think this is one of the more positive options I’ve come up with in a while. Maybe I should look into that. Do I have spare time? No. I really don’t. But 2 hours/week? That I could do. That wouldn’t eat me alive. It would be a commitment to something outside my family. I really fucking need that right now.

One thought on “What does individuation mean anyway?

  1. Shelly

    Tutoring sounds like a good thing. Or maybe work with an org that helps kids edit their college applications or look at resumes or even something f that helps non native English speakers fill out government forms…

    Sorry… rambling.

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