It seems to come and go, this feeling of uselessness. It has been a while since I’ve dealt with it (months at least), but as the kids have started back to school and I find myself with lists of things to do like “organize the linen closet” and “clean out the cupboards” I wonder what, exactly, it is that I’m doing every day. What is my contribution to life, to society, to the world, to anything? I look around me and see the things I do, things that are undone almost as soon as they are done. Laundry. Dishes. Vacuuming. Dusting. Picking up toys. Washing children. Over and over, I do these things. I complete them just in time to do them yet again, and again, and endlessly again. It feels so useless, this endless doing of things immediately undone.
And when this happens, when the days begin to feel too much like repetitive drudgery, when I find myself hungering for acknowledgement that something I do actually matters to someone (anyone!!), I begin to wonder what I have done with my life. Here I am, 31 years old, and I have little to nothing to show for my time on this earth. What great difference have I made? What changes have I wrought for good? What influence have I had or inspiration have I given? With every tantrum, sibling-abuse, scream-filled day, listening to my children profess their hate for me, I grow more and more discouraged. This is not what I had in mind. This is not what I thought life would be. I find myself merely surviving, instead of living.
I feel as though I skate along on someone else’s dime, literally and figuratively. I make no monetary contribution to my family, yet I eat up a significant chunk of the family finances. I am financially dependent on my husband, and as I sit daily, watching his stress load increase and his work load become more and more burdensome, I feel guilt that I do little but take. I should be making a contribution. But what? What could I do? My life has been a long string of childcare for the last 10 years. I didn’t graduate from college. I didn’t even like my major when I decided to drop out.
I yearn for connection. I yearn for purpose, for recognition, for acceptance, for being needed and valued in a way I can’t explain. I want a reason to get up each day. Something more compelling than the laundry, or the dishes, or cleaning out the linen closet. Something that speaks to my soul. Something that is meaningful to me, that makes a positive contribution to the world, the society I belong to. Something that reaches the pain I see all around me, in so many forms, and the pain I have felt in myself and seen in my children.
Recently, at my daughter’s psychiatric checkup, I picked up a flyer advertising a suicide prevention walk. This spoke to me, touched my soul at the time, and I signed up to do this walk. It’s coming up in a few weeks. And ever since, I’ve been thinking that maybe this is something that could be meaningful to me. Maybe suicide prevention, intervention, something… But I don’t know where to start. I’m not qualified in any academic way for participation in such an endeavor. I would love to volunteer, to get in to the community, but I don’t know where to go. It just so happens that my state is the ONLY state in the USA without a center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program. Already I feel lost, overwhelmed, and discouraged.
So I have convinced myself that I can’t do it. I’m not qualified, there’s nothing out there, and even if I did find something, how could I be useful anyway? I discredit myself before I even get started. And this discourages me. No matter what endeavor I seek to involve myself in, I almost always talk myself out of it before I even get started. I’m not good enough. Not smart enough. Not articulate enough. Not qualified enough.
And so I go through my days, one after another, doing the same things I’ve been doing for years, because that is what I’m qualified for. That is what I know, what I’ve done, what I do. And at the end of the day, I feel useless. A leach on my family, my husband, society. I have no purpose. No goal. No motivation.