New Normal?

There is something missing. My life has become a combination of disorientation and emptiness. I have notes everywhere, thoughts, feelings, ideas that pop into my head. A few sentences on my phone, a few phrases on random pieces of paper on my desk, or my dresser.


For someone who enjoys interacting with people, I’m not sure how to converse now. Even when I respond to emails I think, re-think & over think my responses. What is this? My insides seem to be hiding from the outside. My voice has gone quiet, dare I say, even changed a bit.


I have sat with this feeling. Welcomed it, made room for it. I keep waiting for it to change, to lighten, to leave me, but it remains. In my quest to understand it better, I wonder if there was ever a time I felt like this and, of course, I have. It was when my father died. How did I feel then? Shocked, numb, empty, lost.


That insane two-week period right before my 17th birthday. How conversations turned from “something isn’t right” to “you have two weeks to live.” The time around his anniversary always produces a malaise I can’t seem to shake, but this year it’s deeper.


As a teenager, I barely knew how I felt anyway, but during that time, it was worse. When my father died, before we left his hospital room, my mother turned to me and said, “it’s you and me against the world.” While I didn’t grasp the enormity of her statement, she couldn’t have been more right.


That’s how it has been now for the last 37 years, me and mom against the world. I was the one behind the curtain with her. For better and worse. We morphed from mother/daughter to mother/care partner to mother/caregiver, and now it’s just me. I have gone from a lifetime of us to just me. And squarely back to feeling shocked, numb, empty and lost.


How I could be shocked after our journey together still surprises me. After the many days and nights of our walking this path, even realizing it was never my path to walk, it was hers. But we were still together, the two of us.


I know it sounds strange for a 54-year-old woman to question what I want to do with my life, and yet here I am. My first waking thought since that day 37 years ago has always been “what can I do for my mother?” And now, I have to think what can I do for myself.