When you wake up in the morning, what do you feel? Do you groan and feel a sense of dread about the things you have to face that day? Or do you spring up, punch the air and shout ‘yes, another day!’. If you are in the second group then you’ve got to tell me your secret because I am, without a doubt, a gloomy member of the first.
Last week in my Pilates class, the instructor asked ‘Ruth’ to bring her arm up a bit. I looked round and asked ‘is there another Ruth here today?’. Of course there wasn’t, but there was always a chance she wasn’t talking to me, that I was doing it right.
It got me thinking about taking on my self, facing up to the reality of who I am these days. Most of the time, I wish I could take a day off from being me, a holiday from remembering to take my pills, organising other people to walk the dog, struggling with the smallest of physical tasks.
I’m certain I’m not alone in that; imagine being able to send someone else in to work on your behalf or cook the dinner some nights when you just can’t be bothered.
I heard the phrase ‘a shadow of her former self’ a while ago, and it saddened me how accurately if described me. Seeing old friends, those who knew me before, is really hard, because I have to show them the person I am now. I don’t like looking through old photos, because I wonder how on earth I could carry my son, climb that mountain or walk that far.
I know that those feelings of painful remembering are all round us. Especially for those who are grieving. Life now is just not what it was.
I wonder how many shadows I walk past or stand beside every day. How many hanker after the selves they have lost for some difficult reason. What do we do? How do we find ourselves again?
Here’s the truth – we will probably never be the way we were before, but we have to celebrate who we are now. There will be something stronger, something softer in there, if we only look. Let’s carry our memories and allow them to give us hope for what lies ahead. Let’s walk alongside the people who love us no matter what threatens to change us.
Let’s remember to help the shadows around us find something brighter to hold onto, and if we can, support them with the things they can’t face anymore. As we forget about ourself, we might accidentally find it again.
I’ll give you an example: last week I was on my phone talking to my husband. After a few minutes I said into my phone, ‘I have no idea where my phone is.’ It didn’t dawn on me until he pointed out that I was holding the blinking thing to my ear.
Blocked. You had a destination, a carefully devised plan, everything was in place. But. Just when you’re half way or even nearly the full way there, something unexpected happens. You face the locked door, the raised hand, the ‘road closed’ sign and see no way round.
One of the things I associate with my mum is the way she spies a broken flower, bends down and puts it in a vase of water. My dad sees a faulty thing, and works to fix it. My granny used to scrape jam jars until they were almost as clean as they had been before. My mother-in-law makes beautiful bags out of worn out jeans.
I forgot how it felt for a while. My husband/partner in all things house-related/main dog-walker got a job working from home. The commute was a walk down the garden, the coffee breaks and lunches were mostly shared, times alone few and far between.