The other day someone on Facebook asked when people knew what they wanted to do with the lives. I thought it sort of an existential question. I don’t think there was any one specific epiphany when I thought “Aha! That’s it!” My life and career gradually evolved, and I’m sure I was well along in adulthood before I realized that being a mom was my most important and satisfying role, following by being a writer and then a publisher.
Last night friends brought up an even more difficult existential question. As one friend used to put it, how do you know when you’re “at yourself?” As most of you know, I have been on a long journey with a broken ankle, a fractured hip that I walked on way too long, a difficult surgery, and what seems to me a slow recovery but probably isn’t. Somewhere along the way I apparently lost myself. On much of that journey I was in a great deal of pain and my life was complicated by hallucinations, induced by medication. I wasn’t myself, but I didn’t realize it.
Oh, I know pain makes you short-tempered, impatient, crabby. I tried to control that, particularly with daughter Jordan who was my primary caretaker and got the burden of all I couldn’t do. And yet we clashed, more than once. I regret that to this dayand will sing her praises forever. But I didn’t know that my friends found me different—not necessarily difficult, just not me.
Last night at dinner, three close friends said, in essence, “Welcome back. You’re you now, and we’re glad to have you.” I’m left wondering where the line is between me and not-me, what was different, how could they tell? Yet I feel an inkling of this because I have more energy, I’m much more interested in my writing and career, and I’m doing a lot of small things that used to make me throw up my hands and say, “I can’t do that.” They’re so trivial I’m embarrassed to share them and won’t.
But I think the upshot is that gradually, day by day, I’m becoming again the woman I was a year ago, and I must have reached some milestone in recent days. So thanks to those friends for alerting me, to family and loved ones for putting up with me. There’s a lesson in this for both caregivers and patients. Several books have been published about caregiving—I think someday I should do one about being the recipient.
Thanks, too, to readers who’ve stuck with me. My gratitude knows no bounds.