Who Are We?

We all define ourselves by who we are and what we do.  Our lives revolve around these roles.  We are teachers, parents, bankers, lawyers and nurses. 

For years I defined myself by what I was.  I was a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.  I also defined myself by what I did.  I was a friend, PTA president, Booster Club Member, School Board Member, 4-H Leader, Band Mother, Room Mother and Secretary.  I was someone who loved gardening, loved to cook and bake and loved to sew. I loved to take my daughters shopping and I loved to lunch with friends.

What happens when we suddenly lose the ability to be what gives us our identity?  What happens when what we did that defined our lives is no longer there?  Do we suddenly become something else?  Do we move on or do we give up?

When I no longer was able to work, go to the movies with friends, participate in my everyday activities, volunteer or even attend one daughter’s graduation or participate in the planning of my  other daughter’s wedding my world came to a stop.  I no longer felt I knew who I was.  I wasn’t the person that I had been.  I didn’t look the same or feel the same.  Who was this crazy woman behind the mask that could only eat a few limited food items, could not color her hair or wear her contact lenses any more?  My IDENTITY was gone; stolen away from me. 

For years I wrestled with this.  Who I was hadn’t changed.  I was still a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.  But I was not a Board Member, PTA Member, 4-H Leader or Booster Club Member.  I didn’t bake because I couldn’t eat the things I baked.  My cooking skills diminished as I had very little to cook.  I didn’t sew because it caused anxiety to try to look at shapes and colors and prints.  I didn’t  lunch with friends or take my daughters shopping because going into stores and malls made me very ill.  Because of all these losses I felt I had no identity.  I felt I had nothing to offer.  I found myself writing poems about this in the middle of the night when I could not sleep.  From my book a portion of a poem entitled, “Who Am I?”:

Who Am I?  Stripped of all the things that were once me.  No more contacts – I now have the weight of my glasses on a face that always hurts.

Who Am I? I am the one whose hair makes her feel old – gray with time.  I am the one whose face feels hollow and sunken.

Who Am I?  I am the one sitting patiently by waiting for a treatment to bring her back into the real world.  I am the one trying to be strong when constantly given more bad to deal with.

Who Am I?  I am the one who cries secretly at night – alone in her room.  The one who prays to God for the strength to go on.

It has taken a long time to realize that I can still have an identity without the labels of what I can do.  I am “me” and no one or no illness can take “me” away. 

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9 responses to “Who Are We?

  1. Reblogged this on allergictolifemybattle and commented:

    Many who have walked this same walk have often asked themselves: Who Am I? This illness not only robs us of our ability to participate in our old lives and do what we did before, it robs us of our identities. I hope you are all doing well and preparing for 2013.

  2. I owned so many different businesses over the years– that took sooo much of my time & my life & ID– as everyone knew me as the owner of this or that business– so I can relate– as when I could no longer work– it was such a shock also– always being busy– always having to meet some sort of deadline– & then ” nothing”- but being sick most of the time– I can relate–

  3. Reading this again bought tears to my eyes. You’ve put it so well. Yes, I’m preparing for 2013, I’ve decided that all the bad of 2012 is just a lesson to better prepare me for 2013!

    • Yes it is better to look forward than back to the past. Although I am doing that when I write about my experiences and my book. But hopefully I am writing about them now without the angst it used to cause when I would recall the experiences.

  4. That’s the best gift to self .. Freedom to be me.

  5. You were a band mom? No wonder I love you!!!

    My illness has only just begun to steal milestones from me. Recently, I couldn’t accompany my husband to his grandfather’s funeral. I felt terrible. I feel terrible. But I’m trying to focus on what I can do for now, and enjoy it.

    • I understand the milestone loss. I missed my younger daughter’s college graduation because the school was so large and 2 1/2 hours away. There would be no way it could be safe for me. My husband went to Europe and I stayed home. My mother-in-law passed five years ago at the end of November and the funeral was on a very cold December day. I drove to the funeral home and they opened a side door and I sat outdoors (my sister sat with me) and listened to the funeral service and my husband read a letter I wrote to her. It was heart wrenching to not be able to sit by my husband and offer comfort.

      My daughter and her husband are taking my grandchildren for their first trip to Disneyland next month. My daughter’s mother-in-law is accompanying them on the trip. I so want to go but my only option would be to sleep in the back of the expedition and hope that I could tolerate the shower in the morning at their hotel. Plus it is 5 hours away and if I don’t do well I am stuck unless my husband and I go in a separate car. Then I found out that the only week during Feb that my LDA doctor gives the injections is during the days they will be going. UGH! It makes me sad that I am not going. Sadder that the other grandma gets to go and I don’t. I think that is the worst part of the whole thing. But life is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it. So on to thinking about more pleasant things. I may postpone my injections until March and have my husband take me to the beach that day. It is 2 1/2 hours away but I do ok there and we can pack a lunch and sit on the beach and just enjoy the beauty (weather permitting).

  6. Pingback: Catch Up Mondays – Are we really who we think we are? – revisited | allergictolifemybattle

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