I am wide awake.
Keenly aware of the fact that I feel lost. Like driftwood. Churned up by the storms and spit out in a different county, mangled, in a river I’ve never known.
Truth is, it all hit at once.
I’ve walked through seasons of change, seasons of feeling lost before- but they were never so real or so deep as they are now.
I am contemplating who I am. And how does that make any sense? And what am I to do with that? And who do I want to be? Not what do I want to do with my life- though it seems summing it up with a simple answer like that would make this process a lot easier- so not that. But who do I want to be? Who was I made to be? And do I have to be that? Or can I just kind of be that? And who was that person anyways? I mean... the person I was made to be? Am I that person? Or a version of her? What’s left of her? Or is she being completely reinvented?
[I should insert here that I do not have multiple personalities. You know. Just in case you were starting to get concerned.]
These are the things you think you have figured out. You think you know yourself. And I suppose there are loads of well meaning people in the world who live simple lives never contemplating this stuff, never doing anything risky enough to feel lost, never sitting on the couch at 6:01 a.m. staring their demons in the face. But I am not that person.
I am a nearly 31 year old artist, wife and mom who feels like driftwood. Churned up by the storms and spit out in a different county, mangled, in a river I’ve never known.
Being all mangledy-bangledy is a good thing. At least that’s what preachers always say. Storms grow you up. Get rid of all the bad stuff in you. Refine you with their fire and hurricane-in-the-sky powers. You come out refined. And shinier. And stronger. And I agree, this can happen. But what of the in between time? Where you’re mangledy-bangledy.
Sometimes we skip that part. Instead, the image I often get is this: I walk into a trying season in my life as “Jenny” and I come out shortly there after on the other side as a smokin’ hot “Jenny 4.0” who has, somehow, become infinitely more beautiful, happy, mature, rich, and demon-free.
But what of the transformation period? Surely it does not simply occur because the season of hardship is behind you. So poof! Hardships have made you a more rich person.
It's messier than that. It’s a longer journey than the just enduring part. It’s the becoming part that leaves you stranded on the couch, morning after morning, 6:30 a.m. feeling keenly aware that you are in the in between. Not the girl I started out as- nor the better version- but somewhere in between. Trying to find my way home.
So that’s where I have been. Some of you have asked. And that‘s the only answer I can give.
I am in the in between. We are in the in between.
Not in a storm, but not the new shinier 4.0 version of myself either. Just somewhere in between... becoming. And the becoming process sucks. I don’t like change. And I don’t like living in the unknown. And I don’t like feeling so unsettled. Seems like by now I should have it all figured out. But I don’t.
And the truth is- I think that is exactly where I am supposed to be right now. Living in the unknown. The driftwood that’s been spit out three counties over- trying to get my bearings and wondering- what next?
With that being said...
I am working on a new album and writing songs that I’ve always wanted to write. Saying things I’ve always wanted to say. Writing with writers who are challenging me to go places I’ve never gone before with my music.
Ryan is no longer traveling with me. And that is the biggest of changes. He has taken a 8-5 job in Dallas that he loves- he was ready for something new- and yet he still believes in what I do and wants me to follow where it leads. Still, after 11 years of making music together and living side by side, 24 hours a day, traveling the world, there is a loneliness in doing what we have done together for so long, by myself.
We are trying to figure out what that looks like for Addison Road and what that means for our family. For now it means performing on weekends- taking Annie with me sometimes- or leaving her with her grandparents for the weekend so Ryan can recover from the work week. Sometimes Ryan will be with me, but mostly, he is getting used to his new world too- and apparently you working-world-folk live for the weekends. I don’t think Ryan or I had any concept of a “weekend” until the last five months.
We are realizing, that for most of the working world, scheduling a “date” night becomes one of the only ways to ensure that you have any amount of quality time together. Who knew? Who knew that weekends were for laundry, going to the park, and fixing things around the house? Who knew that cooking dinner every single night would almost make eating undesirable? Who knew that getting your clothes starched at the cleaners- every week- could cost so much money (Did I mention that before Ryan took this new job, we didn’t even own an iron or ironing board? We have refused to buy a real board. We got a small fold up board that does absolutely no good. Still, it feels less domesticated and that makes us feel better about owning our very own iron.) Who knew that being a stay at home mom during the weeks would require so much energy, patience, wisdom, and mental stability- which I am severely lacking in?!?
These are the sorts of things you face in the in-between. In the becoming something new. One day you are ready to take on the new world. The next day you are begging for the old world. The next you are simply convinced that you were never convinced of anything in the world to begin with. It is a season marked by the unknown. Curiosity abounds. Excitement fights to shine through. Fear and self-doubt dominate. The kind of self-doubt that hits you over the head at the beginning of puberty, leaving you rattled and insecure and lost and overwhelmed with the possibilities of giving birth to a new person. A new version. If nothing else, the in between seasons are great reminders to hold life lightly. Hang on too tight- to your own version- and you are bound to be heartbroken.
Because there will, inevitably, always be a season of becoming.
Aisle 7 and the Evil Spaghetti
My biggest break down during this season of in-between living was on Aisle 7 at Kroger.
I sat there staring at spaghetti. Some horrible 1980‘s Phil Collins song came on. I stared at the spaghetti longer. Harder. What do I cook for dinner? What do people cook for dinner? I had no idea. Being on tour for two years straight, I hadn’t cooked for my family. Not only had I not cooked, 99% of the time, I didn’t even have a choice over what I would eat. I showed up at a venue and the food was there. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. I didn’t do any of it. I had no idea what to cook for dinner. I didn’t even know where to begin. The spaghetti started calling me names. And before I knew it, all the spaghetti boxes were talking, hovering over me, telling me that I had failed- as a mom, a wife, a musician, a cook- you name it and the spaghetti was screaming it at me.
And right there, on Aisle 7, between noodles and tomato sauce I began to sob and grieve the becoming. The in between.
Like driftwood. Churned up by the storms and spit out in a different county, mangled, in a river I’d never known. I was in the eye of the storm.
God love the old lady who said, “Sweetie are you ok?”
“I just don’t even know what to cook for dinner. I don’t even know what to buy,” I said through sobs- massive sobs- on Aisle 7.
“Well, sweetie, you should just do take-out. Leave the buggy right here. Go get in your car. And do take-out. You do not need to cook a thing tonight. You just leave this buggy right here. It will take care of itself.”
“Ok. Ok. You’re right. Pizza will work won’t it? I just. I just don’t even know what to put on the noodles. You know? I just can’t believe this,” I left the basket in a daze, sobbing, shoulders shaking, Phil Collins singing something about love in the background.
Sometimes you just need the permission to be broken down. To not know what to cook. To leave the buggy, full of perishables, right in the middle of Aisle 7. She was there to give me permission. Permission to be afraid. Permission to cry. Permission to feel lost. Permission to go home- let it fall like rain onto my pillow- and then rise, ready to start over again. And you do start over again. I am starting over again.
Inevitably, the hope and excitement of the unknown shines through the clouds. And eventually, the clouds roll away all together.
So this is me. This is Ryan and I. This is us. We have weathered storms- and found ourselves in a season of complete change. To put a bow on it for you and wrap it up nicely would be to deny that we are walking through the much needed- albeit much dreaded season- of becoming. So I can’t do that. No cliche’ quotes or scripture verses about not worrying or about faith in God’s plan or the future... though it is there, the faith. It is there. But the truth is, we are still living in the uncertainty- and I hate it. I am working through my lostness, and no amount of faith takes away the fear and loneliness that accompanies drifting down a river, trying to find your way home... to your new home. Becoming something different and refined along the way.
A bit of holy fear and loneliness during the becoming is good for my soul- whether I like it or not.
This isn’t about Addison Road. I really believe the songs we are writing for the next Addison Road album are the best we’ve ever written. This isn’t about Ryan and his desire for a new career. This is bigger than a job. Bigger than paychecks or talents and skills.
This is about going from storms- to mangledy bangledy- to coming out on the other side, bottom of the river- looking different than ever before.
This is the in between season. Of growing into my skin. Of redefining. Of growing up. Of becoming.
*Thank you to Paul Allen for encouraging me to write this blog. To Karen Briseno for enduring with me during the silent in-between. And for the rest of you who still come here to share life with me.*