I Miss Me, Too – Revised

 

DSC_0045

I received a notice from WordPress yesterday that this is my 5-year anniversary of maintaining this blog. Funny how things come together to shape my thinking and what I feel compelled to write about. A few weeks ago Michael Watson wrote a post about Those in-between Places that spoke to me. I started a post but it didn’t move much – or maybe it moved in too many directions. Then a post I wrote six months after I started blogging came to my attention and I thought about re-posting it. And last night our friends suggested we take a camping trip to South Dakota to see the herding of the buffalo. Jim suggested that we could change our plans to travel to Nova Scotia and combine the buffalo trip with going to the Canadian Rockies. This really surprised me – and I decided this morning to re-blog the earlier post but with some rewrites to make it relevant to all that is happening now.

In 2012 I wrote: It was a long time coming and I’m not sure when it happened. I don’t miss me anymore. This is a strange thing to say but I know the frightening feeling that comes from loosing my sense of who I am. I know the sadness that comes from not believing there is enough of me left because of the changes in my life due to contracting a chronic condition. I really did miss me – but not any more.

My blog was originally named “I Miss Me, Too” because that was what I wanted the title of my book – the one that I’m not writing any more – to be called. Here is what I wrote on my ‘About This Blog’ page when I started blogging. It explains how I came up with the title.

One day during that first year after being diagnosed, I was in the kitchen with my husband of 40 years. He stopped working, looked at me, and said that he knew I couldn’t help it but he missed me. He had tears in his eyes. My eyes welled up and I said, “I miss me, too.” We embraced and cried together.

corners-059.jpgI feel like I turned a corner, from missing me to not missing me. How many times have I said that, about turning a corner? Whenever I started a new computer file for my journals, the first entry begins “I feel like I have turned a corner.” There are 10 files of journals that cover 8 years – so ten times I had turned a corner. I guess you could say I’ve been around the block a few times. This seems to be my way of explaining that I made a leap of progress towards my emotional and physical healing each of those ten times – then eleven in 2012, now twelve in 2017.

Those leaps of emotional healing didn’t happen suddenly. It was more like a long slow, continuous process and what happened was that suddenly I realized that I felt different. Change takes a lot of work. We have to have a vision of what we want, and maybe observe others and think about how we would like to be, and we need to practice actually being like our new vision. Sometimes we need to look at our pasts, confront old ghosts, heal old wounds, let go. Sometimes we need to acknowledge our sadness and anger. It takes conscious effort and courage and perseverance. I have been working on it for nine years so far – taking many small steps and spending lots of time on plateaus where I can prepare for my next step.

I began to feel the shift to feeling more whole when I started my blog and became a part of the blogging community. Focusing on how to use a new camera and learning how to take interesting photographs allowed me to connect with a long neglected part of myself, my artistic self. Blogging gave me a platform for sharing the emotional turmoil of having fibromyalgia by posting rewrites of portions of my never-to-be-published book.

Writing for the blogging community was much more rewarding than writing for publishing and thus brought a dynamic, evolving meaning back into my life. My focus began to shift from sharing my illness to wanting to share the life I was living – through photography and story. I discovered that I could touch people’s lives with my blogs and my life was enriched through the life stories of other bloggers. It feels like I am on a shared journey of life that is being recorded through our blogging.

Gros Morne 050

Gros Morn World Heritage Site, Newfoundland, Canada

The second event that seemed to give me a new sense of self was the long camping trip to Newfoundland in August of 2012. This trip shifted life for both me and my husband. A while after I was diagnosed (2004), we were talking and he went into that funny mood that says he is thinking about something that needs to be said but he doesn’t want to say it. He finally confessed that he was feeling guilty because he believed I got sick because he “dragged me” on a three-week camping trip to the Canadian Rockies. It is true that I started having symptoms about 6 weeks later – but proximity doesn’t prove causation. He was able to let go of the guilt but still had to live with the fact that our life was changed.

Our trip to the Canadian Rockies 9 years earlier was the last traveling camping trip that we had taken and the planned trip to Newfoundland was similar in length and work. I had some anxiety about doing the trip but I really wanted to go and knew how to prepare. He had a lot of anxiety because he feared I would get really sick a long way from home or wouldn’t be able to participate in our travel activities. After we returned, he told me that he was really surprised that I had done as well as I had. Our eyes connected and he said that it felt really good to have me back.

I guess I am back. I’m not the same because we both know that we had to do things to take care of me – but I was alive and vibrant and involved on the trip. I worked along side of him and carried my half of the work load – almost and most of the time. It was similar to our Canadian Rockies trip, but I was different. We have adjusted to the changes in me so I can be like I used to be – even though I’m not. Maybe we don’t remember what I used to be like, but in many ways he isn’t like he used to be either. In any case, we have found a way to live life fully, together, that is rewarding for both of us.

This triggers silent tears because it was hard and it wasn’t always clear that it would happen. I spent a day or two feeling sorry for myself. Not in a bad way as I would if I felt like a victim. No, I felt sorry for myself as I would feel towards someone who had gone through a really rough time. I felt sympathy and compassion towards myself. I feel compassion and love for my husband who had to endure all that I have been through but didn’t always know how to handle it. But then neither did I. It was scary and hard.

I have read a lot about grief but I have never seen anything written about the grief we feel after going through a time of healing. When I was a therapist I frequently would sit and listen to people express their joy after making changes in how they thought and felt and the big difference it was making in their life. Then they would grow quiet and their eyes would get glassy. I knew at that moment they needed to lick their wounds – they were remembering how hard it had been, how hard they had worked, how much pain they had felt as they went through the healing process. I was feeling that way when I first wrote this post.

At the same time, in a strange way, a hard to define way, I was and have been afraid of stepping into the future. I wrote in 2012 that I had learned how to live with my emotional pain and sadness. I had gotten used to not knowing who I was. I had adjusted to not being able to do a lot and my husband didn’t expect me to be able to do most things. What if he forgets that I have limitations? What if he expects more from me than I can deliver? What if this living life fully, together, doesn’t last?

At this time, in 2017, I am also feeling fear about stepping into the future but for a different reason. At 73 I have realized that I have a limited number of days left and no matter how long I live, my health will never be better than it is right now. I have turned another corner and the path ahead just doesn’t seem very hopeful or bright. No one warned me that this would happen, or if they did I wasn’t able to absorb and understand it. Maybe it is something that people prefer not to talk about because I’m feeling a little guilty for writing about it. It makes me sound like I am in a sour, black, depressing mood.

In 2012 I wondered if I could maintain the new me I’d found – forever? What I have now done is look at forever and decided that I can’t see it through rose-colored glasses. I don’t want to. I’m putting my chips on facing this truth head on and by doing so I will be better prepared to face this time of getting old…   onto death. As a result a funny thing is happening – another surprise that I wasn’t expecting. I am feeling a new energy, a new sense of power. By facing this nasty little fact of getting old, I have lessened my dread of that which I have little control over.

Another surprise is that in 2012 I came to a useful conclusion. I realized that I need to remember that this is a new day – singular. All I have to do is live today. I planned for my tomorrows, but none of my futures were improved by feeling anxious about them. I can plan for tomorrow, but I need to live today.

I am listening to what I wrote five years ago because it still works. On this new day I may experience pain and fatigue and not be able to do much of anything. On this new day I may have lots of energy and be excited about the work and play I have planned. I am still overdoing on good days, and still paying for it with a day or two of not feeling well. I know how to take care of myself and I’m usually satisfied with moderation but also willing to pay the price for pushing the boundaries.

I have found ways to exercise my brain and body. I have found multiple communities in which I can nurture and be nurtured. My husband and I have settled into a fun and comfortable relationship. I can face my God and see her smiling at me. I don’t miss me any more because I have found a way to live that has integrity.

Advertisements

28 Comments »

  1. Congratulations with your fifth blogoversary Pat! I enjoy your photographic and your creative expression which is so inspiring to others in this wonderful community. To me it never seemed as if you had gone ‘missing’ – it feels more as if you have been gathering those ‘lost’ parts of yourself over the last few years and that you are more spiritually ‘whole’ in going forward than ever before 💜

    Like

  2. A beautiful post Pat. I too have found writing and photography healing, and being part of an online community therapeutic. There are many ways to come to terms with changes in our lives, to reach acceptance and, if we are lucky, equanimity, but it takes time. Exploring other parts of ourselves perhaps is the key. It’s not that new doors open, I see it more that we choose to walk through those doors we have been passing by without entering.
    BTW, somehow I think your trip to Newfoundland may not have been in 1012, or if it was, you must surely be in the Guinness Book of Records for longevity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been feeling my age – but not that old. Thanks for the heads up – those typos are hard to spot. I love having good editors around. LOL – I didn’t even read see error in your comment, instead thinking “how does she know what year we went to Newfoundland?” Then I read a few more words and looked back at the date. I think there may be a lesson here about holding assumptions in the face of fact.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is strength in our blogging community. As you know, I am not as present as I once was. This is partly due to the fact that I am less stressed, so blogging is not the safety valve it once was. I love seeing you have liked a post I have written. Even that degree of connection makes me feel good. It’s not something I feel with all bloggers. I do feel that some bloggers only like posts by people who are going to like theirs in return, which seems valueless form of comment. So please, even if I don’t visit your page for days, remember you have made a connection with someone on this side of the pond who values you, who admires your strength and courage in the face of chronic illness, and who enjoys your words and your photography. You are one of those bloggers I consider to be of my tribe. xx

        Like

        • Awe thanks – I always enjoy your writing and photos, and look forward to hearing your perspectives on current events. You have different world view and that is refreshing. I have grown to care about you – like when I was worried about your well-being when the terrorists attacked close to where you live. I really don’t have the time nor inclination to keep tally of who leaves likes on my page (although I feel joy when people I have formed relationships with do) and I don’t think I have a moral obligation to follow everyone who follows me. I follow those blogs that enrich me and bring joy.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Pat! Such a wonderful post! I am reminded how much I value your writing and photos, the you I get to interact with. I a, also reminded of how often my wife and I miss me, and our insistence on doing things anyway. We require adventures, although the shape of those changes to fit my needs. She also goes places I cannot, or will not, go, and reports back on her travels. I don’t like limits, and they remain, and will likely become more challenging as I continue to age. Here is to doing well with adversity, continuing to treasure self, and to joy! even the face of suffering!

    Like

    • AMEN, Michael. Yes, yes and yes. We have the choice of sitting at home as a victim in anger and self-pity or getting out there and doing what we need to do, within the limitations that have been imposed on us. And we have always had limitations – we just didn’t think about them until we lost some of our abilities. I raise my glass (cup of morning coffee) to you and your wife.

      Like

  4. Pat, I can identify with so much of what you’ve written. Figuring out who I am now is challenging with not knowing whether how I feel is due to having fibromyalgia or a natural part of aging. Most likely both. But it does make the future feel very uncertain. Will my fibro get worse again? Will my abilities progressively deteriorate? Having just lost the third of four siblings to cancer, I feel the need to seize the day, be extremely thankful for what I CAN do, and rely more and more on my faith to walk me through the future. Thanks for an introspective and thoughtful post. Lois

    Like

  5. Hi, Pat,
    I only discovered your blog a short-time ago, but I have enjoyed reading and following it and getting to “know” you. I appreciate your outlook, the quality of your writing, and your lovely photographs. Congratulations on your 5-year milestone as a blogger. And now I understand why “A New Day: Living Life Almost Gracefully” shows up with the url “I miss me too.” I look forward to reading more of your reflections and sharing your journey in the months and years ahead.

    Like

    • Thanks, Donna, for your very kind words. I always feel some anxiety when I write a post that shows this much of “me” but it is how I make sense of life and me and the world. I also have a lot of fun with my photography and telling the stories of my everyday life. I guess, that too, is the way I focus my perceptions on what is good and beautiful. Kind of like activities to feed my soul – so glad to have you along.

      Like

  6. The day to day thing works just fine. Too much forward planning at our age is too much like work, and isn’t really necessary. That’s me speaking from experience. Thank you for your wonderful post. There isn’t anything to hold you back now. Cheers.

    Like

  7. I like seeing the reality mixed with the maudlin thinkin’. I noted in your sharing a thing that I can do. I start out in what I label as a new and ‘good’ place. In the sharing of it i lean to the nostalgic, I lose today and I get into if onlies sort of, but a sneakier kind. I can call that a grief too, and it can be, however for me it’s a very subtle way of me trying to change the past. To meet some expectation of who i think i was and to hold onto that old idea (even if upon investigation it was never true OR I keep trying to staple down my belief Idea or expectation of a thing or of me and i grab firmly onto it gritting my teeth, the most perfect place sort of thing. I have this measuring stick for good enough for everything. I wonder if i shall be able to hang it up or burn it lol. Wow I’m laughing as that just flew out, I was unaware of it, thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • It is my pleasure to share, Elisa. Isn’t amazing how sometimes our writing takes on a life of its own and we give ourselves insights we weren’t previously aware of. I was just reading a commentary where the authors says that we all, to some extent, rewrite our past through our selective memories. I know that it is very important for us to make sense of our past – and to come to terms with those parts that weren’t ideal. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      Like

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s