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I found something on FB the other day and reposted it for responses on my own wall –

May be an image of one or more people and text that says 'How beautiful would it be if we said to people we loved: "I'm not feeling like my best self today, can you remind me of whol am?" And that person said a few reasons why they appreciate you, for you. Appreciation and connection heal us. @the.holistic.psychologist @Projecthappiness_org'

Couple of reasons why I tthrew that out.

February is a cruel month. It begins with the anniversary of Deck’s death, on the first day of the month, and is followed by the anniversary of his birth, on the 16th, a birthday he will never see again – and of course I always tell people that we didn’t observe Valentine Day on the 14th so much as live on love all year round but come February everything is awash in hearts and flowers and conspires to remind those whose hearts are shattered of the parts of themselves which are forever missing. So there’s this whole “I’ve been halved” aspect to it, and the way I am having to rearrange identity around the new circumstances.

And then there’s the wheel of fire in my mind which is my mom, and her slow and inevitable decline – she’s been living in a cocoon of my making as her caregiver for ten years now, ever since my father died and abdicated that position of caring for her to me. But the authorities have now stepped in and decreed that she is no longer safe to live on her own so we are now searching for an adult family home which will provide assisted living for her. She of course has nothing to do with any of this – she is currently on hospice, and even more currently a temporary resident at Hospice House where she is waited on hand and foot (more bubble) until such time as she can make a more permanent move. But her having moved out of my direct responsibility right now doesn’t make things any easier or simpler – more complicated, if anything, leaving me to deal with trying to make decisions about what to do with the condo she’d been living in, how to do it and when to do it, and anticipating her bitter kickback raection when she does land in a facility because it is going to be a step down from this Hospice House level of care, whatever it is, and of course it is not going to be a return to her old freedoms, and I will be to blame for all of that (because she has nobody else to blame except me). But here’s the thing – Deck suffered his stroke in the third year of our marriage, and although he was an independent survivor I was definitely the caregiver in the aftermath of that; then came my dad, and the battles I fought on his behalf when he was dying of cancer, and now there’s mom, helplessly watching her slide into her sweet oblivion and fade away until her physical body is this frail shell of itself, a skeleton draped in soft wrinkled skin, and all too often these days this disconcerting emptiness in her eyes as though she is half in another world already. And I remain caregiver until she does step all the way through. WHich means that I have been a literal caregiver to somebody else, to some degree, for twenty years now, and that has become the scaffolding on which my entire identity has been built. WHen that scaffolding finally dissolves, I have no idea  if I still have enough of my own bones to stand up by myself, and if the care and feeding of two cats will be enough. If it isn’t… what of my identity then? Who am I? Who will I be?

Third aspect. I am – I have always been, I have always identified as – a writer. But I haven’t really been doing any writing during the bitter grief of these last two years, and then the increasing complications with mom which have been eating my life. I am beginning to feel as though I am a stoppered glass jar that’s full of words – but the jar has been sealed, the words cannot escape, and the pressure is building. If I don’t release it soon, consciously on some level, one of two things is going to happen. The pressure is going to blow the lid off and I might go metaphorically insane with that, or there is going to be a crack and a slow leak which I don’t even know is there and one day I will wake up and realise the jar is empty and it will never be full again and I will have lost the thing that has always defined me. I don’t know which of those I am more scared of.

So, Identity.

These days it is sometimes diffcult to know who I really am any more.

Some of the Facebook answers heartened me. Others have put more pressure on that seal which is keeping the words in the jar.

I’m not sure where I’m headed but I know I am flying blind – and part of an attempt to reclaim any semblannce of control is to figure out who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming – and decide if I can do anything at all about the direction I’m moving in, if I don’t like the answers I am getting to that third question.

I remain me, the person I have always been. I remain the KIND of person that I have always been. But the finer points of identity… that, I am searching for, in a dark room, without a light, with both hands out in front of me looking for something to touch and to hold, whether it is something old and familiar or something new and scary and bringing with it a necessity to reinvent my sense of self. I have no idea what I am trying to find. I just know that it’s lost and its out there.

I’ll keep looking.


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