Friday, April 15, 2011

"me"

I am fifty-three tears old. Old enough that you would figure I had the concept of "me" down. I don't. Dealing with the changes raising GB brought into my life, losing my brother, father, and mother over eight months, and leaving tenure behind to quit the workforce and go back to school were changes I coped with, still able to keep "me". And then there is Hope. I am still GB's Mom, but that no longer defines me. With Hope home, I am no longer actively working on my dissertation. I may get back to it, and if I do it may or may not be obsolete. I haven't a clue. My goal of working with Head Start kids and giving them an even start that they keep may not be reasonable. I have never done things halfway and can't see myself starting now. Yet, Hope's Mom does not define me. We have had Hope going on 8 months and have still only scratched the surface of who she is. I can't even reasonably claim to know what she needs in a mother. The RAD, which is in every breathe she takes, every word she says, every action she takes (or doesn't) is all consuming. It has left very little room for "Hope" to show herself. I am a therapeutic parent, but that is how I force myself to act. If it were really "me", it wouldn't be so hard, take so much out of me, or in some moments, just leave me completely. Physically, I have neuropathy and a white matter disease both of which  will only get worse. I refused to be defined by any disease, so my "me" really can't be physical.

Fifty-three is old; really too old to start a journey of "who am I?" Still, since that is where I am, I guess that is the journey I need to take. If I had known it was a journey that would be repeated multiple times in my life, I wouldn't have taken it so seriously as a teenager. Back then, I didn't realize how many times I would start this journey over.

10 comments:

robyncalgary said...

thank you for sharing these lessons as you learn them, i love the last 2 sentences of this post :)

Kelly said...

I know for me...my "me" has changed many times. But it is so hard to find the "me" when you are parenting children with mental illness because they do their best to assure that everything is about "them".

Sarah said...

I love this post. It seems every time I have things figured out, something comes along to turn it all upside down.

Sunday Koffron said...

"If I had known it was a journey that would be repeated multiple times in my life, I wouldn't have taken it so seriously as a teenager. Back then, I didn't realize how many times I would start this journey over."

Ain't that the truth!

In the Pink said...

The path of self actualization is the highest tier on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and is met when all the lesser tiers are achieved. That nonsense being said....go easy on yourself. I think you are one of the more interesting people I have yet to meet. You care more about others than yourself so it is no surprise that you have set aside you along the way.

Ian & Ruby said...

I empathise with your comments. I too am an 'older mum'. I had my two childdren in my late twenties/early thirties, then fourteen years later began fostering. I thought I knew myself, thought I was a good mother, then one of the babies came into our lives when I was in my mid-forties and stayed. She has just turned 21, she has bipolar disorder, and an entirely different personality from my biological children, and she has challenged my view of "me" for most of the past 21 years. I think I really rethought my definition of who I am when I had cancer; it forced me to confront my own mortality; the treatment took away from me the ability to do all the things I had itentified myself with, and I struggled with self image. I think, especially as mothers, we do need to explore our 'self' and see ourselves as someone special, separate and apart from our children, however challenging they are. I admire your patience, determination, and committment to your children, and pray that you will find ways to help them both to find their own true selves.

Rachel said...

I so utterly hear you. Sometimes, I long for those naive adolescent days when I thought the "me" question could be dealt with once and for all. But really, I don't often long for those days, because adolescence was awful. I'll take a mid-life crisis any day -- with autism, with auditory difficulties, with dyspraxia, with vestibular issues, with all of it. Good thing we get to be tough old birds as we age. :-)

Denise said...

I've been thinking about this post since I first read it. I'm 54, and I used to be comfortable with who I was, as we started our adoption journey when I was 41. Now I feel as though I've lost myself in my four-year-old child's issues that require my unceasing attention. I, too, have neuropathy and some other medical conditions. I refuse to let them define me (I've even been accused of being stubborn in that department!), but as they progress, and as my son gets older and stronger, they become more of a factor in me trying to restrain him.

I'm just glad that there are others out there doing this. It really helps to read your blog and I'm grateful for your honesty and insight.

Kristine said...

You continue to amaze me.

Struggling to Stand said...

Now you've given me something else to put on my pile of "things to do that might help me heal." It seems so odd to me that others had definitions of who they were when they were young. I always thought you needed to live life in order to find out the answer. (Maybe that is why I was given a "personality disorder" Dx when I was in my early 20s?) And it sure helps explain why I made so many choices that were bad for me. ... Be that as it may, I do think it is rare to fit into one definition of "me" and keep with it. How many youngsters would say they were wise? Yet you are now, very wise.
And the you that is under the covering of "Hope's mom" is clearly still there, and always will be. Because all those things you do are not you, they cover you but do not contain you. You are a woman with a large heart and big dreams. You are a woman who may act impulsively but who has a strong sense of committment. You are a woman who has a need to help others, to improve lives. (And, btw, you succeed at that.) You are a woman who does not believe that individuals have no choice but to stay contained within their "pre-ordained" physical or mental limits, and you include yourself in that list of individuals.
At least, that is the woman I see. The one that is here now. I don't know who you used to be, or who you will be.
{{ Hugs }}