Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Redefining my Identity

Even though I have been home for seven weeks now, there still seem to be plenty of people to meet and catch up with. I met one such person last week at a local night market that started while I was in Cambodia. He seemed to be pretty progressive and was all about revitalizing downtown. He was even wearing an equality sticker. This guy asked Asghar what he does and after hearing Asghar’s response, he asked me if “I was a lawyer’s wife”. I know he had no ill intentions but I was fuming because his words triggered my insecurities.

When I first moved to Jacksonville, it was extremely important for me to form an identity that does not revolve around my husband. I worked very hard to maintain it but leaving for Cambodia changed that. As soon as I got back, I was back to being just a wife. At least in my mind. 

I bring this story up because my identity has been something I have been struggling with the last few weeks.  I have been spending money without the same discipline I had in Cambodia and feeling guilty about it. I have been earning a paycheck since I was 15 years old and always worked for what I wanted. This is the first time in my life that I have not worked. In Phnom Penh, I wrote down every single one of my expenses in order to stay on track and to keep a record of how much I needed to make ends meet. And now, I am using my husband’s credit card to buy curtains for the house or lunch for myself. I have had friends call me out and say "you are taking this house wife thing too far" or "we need to find you a job because I don't recognize you anymore."

Coming home to no job but a full time volunteer position and a new a house has kept me occupied. I have been busy with projects for the house while having constant meetings for TEDxJacksonville. And I now know that I am much more than just a wife but it does get hard to remember that when you're only accomplishment in a day is setting up a closet at home.

It’s strange to say but this new chapter has been a huge learning experience. I’ve learned that breaks can be a good thing. I actually have the luxury to figure out what I want to do without rushing into something I know I will hate. And I have finally learned that it is ok to depend on your husband financially. The independent woman in me always fought to share the expenses and now I can’t even if I wanted to. It has been a humbling journey and one that has enabled me to be honest with myself.

I needed the break. I needed the time to process everything I saw and felt while I was away. I didn’t want to rush from one experience to the next because I want my last experience to influence whatever comes next.