Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sunday Scribbles #33 - I don't want to be a passenger in my own life

This week's Sunday Scribble ( which finally started emerging today) stunned me. Since my mother's death in October I've had unexpected reactions that I was completely unprepared for. I've discovered that, for me in any event, it takes the removal of one of my major purposes in life to discover how much of myself I've given away. I don't claim this as necessarily a bad thing; it just is the way it is. Between work, child-rearing, and later concentrating on mom's needs after dad's death and then her own failing health, I find that I left precious little time for me. Most of my decisions were made based on other people's needs so much so that I can't figure out easily what the heck it is I want or need.

Tuesday I woke up and felt such a terrible lump in my throat that I could hardly breathe. I had lunch with my dear friend Biene and clustered all of my anxieties on the paper placemat before me. Frantically the words appeared - stress, poor future health, weight, lack of focus, lack of discipline, sadness, confusion, old ingrained habits, poor self-treatment, loneliness, lack of purpose, desire to make up for lost time FAST, feeling the encroachment of my own years, fatigue and more fatigue, the desire to run away . . . Wednesday wasn't much better. I left for lunch and went looking for Don who was at his usual lunch spot. I talked. He listened. Then he gave his usual good and detached piece of advise - "Just take one thing at a time". My conclusion? Make a list. How can I keep all the stuff under control if I don't make a list? At least I'll have something to focus on.

Thursday - a.m.
While there are still matters that require my attention and will require my attention for a while, I have enough open space in my life now that I find myself reflecting on all the times that I made decisions based on the needs of others and then I read Lili's entry this morning at her lovely Indigo Pear blog. If ever there was something that was speaking for me, it was this beautifully written piece about life changes. This is certainly happening to me.

Thursday evening
I look at the structure what I am writing and it's as disjointed as I've been feeling for the past three days. Those cliche questions - who am I, where am I going, what do I want to do, how do I get there - are rattling around in my head madly. I picture myself swirling in the center of a storm of frantic, demanding, attention grabbing aspects that create nothing but chaos. The inner noise that has hit me since the kids have grown, with retirement looming, and most especially pushed along by mom's passing have imposed an inner racket that makes it almost impossible to breathe at times. There is absolutely nothing "required" of me anymore. All of my choices have been chosen based on the needs of others and suddenly I find myself in the driver's seat of an out of control train.

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a train engineer. Decades later I read a story about a woman who actually accomplished this seemingly unreachable goal. She was the first. Twenty-five years ago I walked into a smelly man's man sort of gym. Everything was so powder puff back in the late 70's. I wanted something serious. The owner laughed me out of there. Trains? Frills-free gyms? What was I thinking? Smart, I think now. I just didn't know what to do next. There wasn't a support system. Other women might have been asking similar questions but I didn't know any of them. I watched life go by as I dreamed of things I would like to do and ended up just sitting back and watching the scenery pass by.

I was told from an early age that I was a daydreamer. I was a late bloomer and a daydreamer. It always seemed such a negative thing. I wonder now what I might have been like if that young dreamer had been encouraged to make dreams reality? Well, now I have a chance to answer that question and frankly, it scares the shit out of me. And being scare shitless might be the best thing for me at this stage of my life. Saturday is my birthday. I turn 59. If I live to my mother's age, I have less than 30 years left. What a sobering thought. It's definitely past time I stopped being a passenger in my life and learn to drive train.


Anonymous said...

I hear you loud and clear, Annie. I spent about 6 months trying to figure out how to try to figure out who I am and what I want. And I've spent the last 6 months actually trying to figure out who I am and what I want.

It's scary, isn't it, to find yourself face to face with someone you suddenly don't recognize because of changes in circumstance?

You will make your dreams into reality. I think you've already taken the first steps in several areas.

And if you don't have the support system you want just down the block, you know you have one here.

Best wishes for a year full of discovery and manifestation as you steam ahead into year 60.

Sue said...

Many of the thoughts that you have so eloquently put down here are the same ones I felt (and continue to feel) after my own Mom's death. I am still caught in the caregiver situation (for my grandfather,98, and my grandchildren) and at times feel life passing me by.
But then, I remind myself, that this is my life and try to find simple joy in the everyday blessings that are present each day.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts this way, it helps to know that others feel the same way...

trailbee said...

Remember the show This Is Your Life, Annie? I sometimes think re-naming it to This Could Be Your Life, or This Shall Be My Life would make us more curious as to how we spend each day, week, year. What are the primary requirements on which we MUST focus, and why. I think it would make us look at our days differently, and our backward glances less regretfully, with less guilt for wanting something we think we can't have. I believe that as women we appear to pay a higher price for life, and correctly so at times. But then I would think: "Oh, please color my days with those dreams, those wants, because I know they exist, and I see myself having both worlds, while I slowly extricate myself, take care of business, and then, with luck, begin my new life." You have already fulfilled more than one of your dreams-that of a writer and artist. You are a wordsmith. You are an artist, I have seen your work. What do you really want? What are you willing to pay? You have 30 years, judging by your mom's lifespan. What do you really want? Your comment answer is in my blog. The answer is yes, but with a twist.Hugs. Biene

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog.
The theme on being a passenger in one's own life definitely brought out a lot of thought about how we are passive in ours. But you are still recovering from losing your mother so your mortality seems that much more real. I hope as you recover from your loss that your way seems more clear.
Nice writing.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know whacha mean. I figured it out a long time ago that us gals give up bits of ourselves repeatedly and, overtime, we become small, narrow, and ultimately may not know who we are.

Reclaiming ourselves is quite a chore.


paris parfait said...

Annie, you can do whatever you want - it's never to late to create the reality you really want. Lovely, thoughtful post. xo