Thursday, September 28, 2017

My Unexpected Identity Crisis

I've had a lot of time lately to think. For the first time since I became a mother, over 12 years ago, my entire days do not revolve around meeting the needs of another person. I had two very big changes at the start of this school year. One being that I no longer have my mom to care for, and the other being that my baby started first grade; all of my kids are now in school all day long. I'm left alone for almost seven hours out of the day; alone with my tasks and alone with my thoughts. This is a brand new experience for me.

It's been a strange adjustment. In many ways, it has been really nice to have some quiet time, to not have to be rushing from one spot to the next, back to back. A couple of weeks ago, I had a nasty head cold and I was actually able to sleep during the day! What an amazing experience that was! I have also appreciated having some time alone to mourn the loss of my mom. Not that I lay in my bed and cry all day, but I am able to better process everything that we have gone through with some time to myself. And there are moments where I do allow myself to lay on my bed and cry; just not all day long.

I have had some difficulty in organizing myself, though. I always have things written down on my to-do list, but without pressing deadlines of having to be in so many places throughout the day, and having to tend to the constant needs of young children or a sick mother, I don't always feel the urgency in accomplishing my tasks right away. You might say that there are moments where I feel a little bit lost. My identity for the past several years has been one of a caregiver. Now that I'm not caring for anyone every minute of the day, I'm having a bit of an identity crisis. It's as if I don't know what to do with myself. I'm trying to figure out where to go from here, what I want to do with my time besides cooking and cleaning the house (which isn't so much on my want list as it is on my duty list).

The one thing that I feel very drawn to is writing. I've picked back up on writing the book that I started a few years ago, a book about my mom and our family's full journey with dementia. I don't know if anyone will want to read it besides my dad (who has been reading each chapter as I write), but it's been a therapy of sorts for me to write it. I have laughed and I have smiled and I have cried as I've written, remembering the person my mom was, the person that my heart aches for. We'll see where it all goes once it's complete.

I'm also dabbling with the idea of starting another blog. I will keep this one going because I still feel like there are things for me to share. I recently saw a quote that said, "Your life's journey will never be the same once dementia crosses your path." How true that is. I will never go back to being the person I was before dementia entered my life. My life has gone down a completely different path because of it. Mom may be gone, but the journey is not over. Dementia has forever affected me. So, I will continue to write here and I am thinking about adding additional content (possibly some content from other people) that might be useful for those still in the middle of their caregiving journey. The ideas are still in the making. But, I'd like to write other pieces as well. I really enjoy writing, but I don't necessarily want to write about sad things all the time. For my own mental well being, I can't write solely about dementia day in and day out. I'd love to write about the sweeter things in life as well: my kids, traveling, things I enjoy, etc. I have been thinking about possibly starting another blog where I can have a happier, more creative outlet for my writing. I think it would give me some focus in a time when I feel very scattered and unfocused, and there is some potential down the line to make money while doing it, which is always a plus, right?

If you would have told me six months ago that this is where I'd be today, I wouldn't have believed it. I was so overwhelmed and just struggling to keep my head above water; I don't think I could have comprehended time for myself. I'm still trying to keep my head above water, just in a different way. I know that time is the healer and I will adapt as the clock moves forward. I am realizing that it requires conscious effort on my part to do this, to find my happy and begin to heal.

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