The Process of “Me”

A word of warning: this process is beautiful and messy and ugly. And in that, is authenticity.

The question at the center of my process is “how do I live my authentic self when everything about my “self” is changed?”

For my first 30 years I went by the name “Taryn Council.” My last name was my father’s. In my 30th year I married the man of my dreams, and took his last name. Now my name is “Taryn Greene.” What’s in a name, anyway?

In my 30th year, everything has changed.

My name is Taryn Greene.

For nine years I’ve served faithfully as an Air Force Officer.

For the last five I’ve been a Captain. All of a sudden I am a Major. My husband took my uniform to have the new rank sewed on this week. When he brought it home I looked at my blouse — the same blouse I’ve worn for five years and I thought, who is that? The gold oak leaves on the collar look strange. The name is unfamiliar. The shirt is the same. Everything about it has changed.

Who is Major Greene? What responsibilities does this rank hold? What journeys will she have?

The name “Greene” holds a version of me that is entirely new to myself: A wife. A mother. And also a Ph.D. student.

My name is Taryn Greene.

Old Taryn used to get up, drink coffee and think about her day. She made a plan to do her fitness, creativity, and work and then executed. Old Taryn paired her digital camouflage blouse or her vintage inspired ensemble with combat boots and lipstick, problem-solved her way out of many a paper bag, and thought nothing of hopping a flight to Chicago to visit friends.

The first thing new Taryn does each morning is she gives of herself to someone else, through breastfeeding. New Taryn hardly ever has time to get dressed, let alone bother with makeup. New Taryn is finding out that all her old methods of problem solving seem useless in her new endeavors as a mom. What use is it to have a plan when you can’t count on having the time or space to execute it anyway?

My name is Taryn Greene.

New Taryn is learning how to plan, all over again. And it’s messy.

She used to be able to schedule, organize, and prioritize the shit out of the things in her life. At the end of the day she felt accomplished, beautiful and excited about what was next. New Taryn sometimes devises a plan… but has no idea whether or how she can execute it. She has no idea what’s going to happen next… where the day will take her… when she might have a second to think. She feels like a good mom, some of the time. She doesn’t feel pretty. She feels old. She feels ineffective and lost.

My name is Taryn Greene.

For the entirety of my adult life I’ve known one thing: I can run three miles without stopping. That has always been my minimum. I can run three miles without stopping, and actually, I can always run more. Most days, if I really want to, I can run six miles before feeling much of anything. Eight if I’m really on a roll.

New Taryn is working her way up from a walk to, maybe, a short run. I read somewhere that after childbirth “the landscape of your pelvis will never be the same.” Well, the pelvic bone’s connected to the hip bone. And the hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone. And so on and so on. I think I’d like to change that quote to “the landscape of your being will never be the same, let alone your body.”

Today I ran two miles without stopping. That’s the most I’ve run since I was six months pregnant, which is almost a year ago now. The new me doesn’t know when I’ll be able to run three miles without stopping. The new me doesn’t even know if next time I run I’ll be able to finish two. The new me has a new body.

My name is Taryn Greene.

The new version of me inhabits a body that is so much different than before. Old Taryn prided herself on being toned. Being strong. Being able to lift more than she probably should. Every morning when she woke up she ran her hand across her abdomen to see how flat her stomach felt. If she felt the slightest bit of bloat she made a mental note and worked in a few extra miles or a spin class.

The new me is squishy. My stomach looks bloated most of the time, and I have love handles that I’m trying to embrace (trust me, the irony is not lost here). I’m trying to be fit — but it’s harder. There are three people to take care of now, not just one. And while I know I’m working as hard as I can, it’s strange to run my hand across my abdomen and feel my stomach move and squish. Even more confusing… I’m more proud of my body than ever before. I’m more proud than I ever could have imagined I’d be. I’m more proud of my squishy slightly heavier abdomen than I was of my Boston marathon qualifying, yoga mastering body that carried special operations dudes around on its back during PT. It’s confusing.

My name is Taryn Greene.

The new Taryn doesn’t fit in many of her old clothes. Lots of my carefully selected favorite items from before — the ones that made me feel like I was rocking my own style — don’t fit. My boobs that used to be for sex? They now belong to a tiny creature who gets to touch and eat them on demand. Like for food. Even more confusing, sometimes I have to squish them into a plastic machine and milk myself. Like a cow. It feels silly to cover them up in anything pretty because breastmilk stains everything. In fact, a lot of the time, it feels silly to cover them up at all.

The new Taryn doesn’t feel put together or professional. She feels stretched in a thousand ways.

My name is Taryn Greene.

I am a mom.

I am a wife.

I am still a runner and an athlete. Well, I want to be.

I am still a lover of beautiful spaces.

I am still a quiet introvert. But now I have a husband to talk the ear off of :)

I am still an explorer, just trying to figure out how to make space to explore. And now I have two permanent travel buddies.

I am a student.

I am a Major in the Air Force Reserves.

I am a creative.

I am a planner and problem solver (but my methods need an overhaul)

I am authentic.
I am me.