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Monday, May 14, 2012

To Mourn My Distant Self

We with chronic health issues know what it’s like to be the patient, but what must it be like to be the sibling of someone who is chronically ill?   Or the parent?  Friends, too, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about growing up in a home where much of the money, the effort, the appointments and all else that is illness is foisted on one family member.  When economics make it difficult to spend money on other family members because so much of the resources are eaten up by medical bills.   Perhaps when the siblings are young, the dots might not be connected intellectually.   But as we grow older and enter adolescence and our needs start to change, resentment must surely set in.

Sadly, this resentment can last a lifetime and people may never even realize what it is that is making the relationship difficult.   So you must be vigilant in keeping tabs on your relationships with family members and address them as they arise, or you will be doomed to riding a merry-go-round (only not so merry) of arguments and misunderstandings that know no end.  Just a thought.

I’ve been in so much pain lately I can barely think, let alone write. I’ve gotten sloppy but my energy level is very low.  Forgive the poor writing.   But the sun has been out and it’s been warm, so I’m grateful for that!!!

I have had a lot of time on my hands and am scared shitless of what is going on in my body.  And I have started to think about when I was a much younger woman.  When I could kind of laugh off the tumors that a lover might discover while touching me, calling them my “owies” and leaving it at that.  I was lucky to have lived with just mild pain for many, many years and few tumors that anyone could see unless I was naked.  And I have been mourning the loss of that woman a lot lately.  I know that as we age, we all mourn the loss of our younger, perhaps healthier selves, but this is such a deep loss it takes my breath away.

This started because I often get in touch with “little Sherri”, my inner child as they call it.   So I thought to myself, why not my inner young woman?  My inner teen?  And she popped up just as easily as the rest of them.  My helpers.  I use to smile when listening to my elderly aunts and uncles and all the other elderly people in my life when they said “I feel exactly the same inside as I did when I was your age” But I get it now.  Because I am that woman now (well, 59 next month but I feel 89 most of the time) and I DO feel exactly the same on the inside.  My body feels like crap, but emotionally, the same.

It’s funny because when I’m out getting grocerie and I’m chatting someone up, I FEEL for a few moments, much younger.  People smile back at me but when I see myself in the mirror, I gasp and think “Who IS that woman?”   I know I’m not the only one who has those experiences.   And I know I’m not the only one who feels loss when having them.  And I know that moving forward is the only choice we have

Yet, I think time does not move in a straight line, going in one direction.  Time, I think, is circular.  We start out in diapers and often end up back in them and if we are unlucky enough to face a disintegrating mind, we end up forever stuck in childhood, or adolescence or whatever time our minds find comfort in.

And right now, I mourn her.  And I mourn the body I had before the tumors ran amok; eating away at all that is inside me.   It keeps me from being with people out in the world and from family celebrations.  My niece graduates from high school in June (valedictorian) and my 88 year old father is coming in from Minnesota for it.  He’s in a lot of pain too, from spinal stenosis.  I don’t know how he does it.  I only pray I will be able to make it.

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