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.