Are we really who we think we are?

I had another of my emotional meltdowns. I commented in my journal that “everything I do is really someone else or their perception of what I would want or need. The cards I send out are picked out by my daughter. The fabric for the dress I am wearing was picked out by someone else. It is nice but I am not sure it is something I would necessarily pick out for myself. It is just that this is supposed to be a special occasion and I don’t really have control over it.” This note started a long writing about how I was feeling (May 14, 2003):

I am not me anymore

The me that existed before this illness does not exist anymore

I am now bits and pieces of others and their perception of what I would buy, wear, or send

You see I must rely on others to purchase cards, clothes, shoes, and my food

The card you receive may have my signature and a short note – but it was chosen by someone else

The sewing or craft project I should like to do may be my craftsmanship – but the fabric, trim, and buttons are of someone else’s choosing based on their perception of me

I am not me anymore

What is there for me to do? It is no longer fun to create new craft ideas with materials I have not taken time to pick out piece by piece

I am not me anymore

I am lost and trapped in a world of emptiness and uncertainty

Who am I?  I don’t know anymore;  of one thing I am certain; the me I once knew is lost and may never return again

Who am I?

Somewhere deep within this body there has got to be a somebody that can care again

Somewhere deep in this soul there has to be something to want to get up in the morning and do

Somewhere deep within me there has to be found a hope for a better life

I feel as if I am slowly wasting away and disappearing all together

I don’t think the me I have known for many years will ever be back again. Too many changes physically and emotionally have taken place

I have to try and find out who I am now and learn to love and accept this new person as much as the old one

I must figure out a way to get what I need on my own

I need to figure out how to fill my empty days with something that makes me excited

My body is frail and thin. I need to build it back up so it can help me fight

I have got to find the strength to do this within or I will soon disappear deeper into the shadows

I am trying desperately to fight the battle

But at times it feels like it is a losing battle

This was taken from my journal when I was feeling so depressed at not being able to choose things for myself and I felt like I had truly lost myself.

A few days ago I had a phone conversation with my therapist.  The conversation came around to clothes and style (not knowing what mine was) and wove itself back around to who I am.  The conversation was about in the beginning of this illness everything including clothing was purchased for me because I was unable to venture into stores to do my own shopping.  My style became whatever was purchased for me or what someone else thought I would like.  What prompted this conversation was because recently I attempted a short trip into a store with my daughter wearing my mask to find myself some shirts.  After a few minutes my daughter mentioned all the nice things there were and did I find anything.  I told her that I had not.  She then came to me with things to try on; things I would never have picked out.  I ended up with one shirt.  The dilemma I have is that I really don’t know what my style is any more.  What do I like, what do I not like, what is just so so for me?

I don’t need clothes for work because I don’t work outside the home.  I don’t need fancy clothes for parties because I don’t go anywhere requiring such fancy clothes.  I do, however, want to look nice and feel good when I go to a friend’s even if we are only sitting in their backyard playing cards.  Yet I don’t know what I want.

As my therapist and I continued our talk she talked about how she had clothes for her counseling work, clothes for her volunteer work, for her gardening, etc.  Those were all different styles.  I needed to think what I do and then try to find a style that fits what I do.  I understand the concept but still don’t know what I like or don’t like.  I don’t have any idea of what really fits me well because I don’t go out, try clothes on and buy them like I did before being ill.

Maybe we really aren’t who we think we are?  Because at any moment a tragedy or life changing event happens and we are no longer the same person because of these life-changing experiences.  We also talked about how we are all constantly evolving and changing either through our careers or in my case through my illness.    Then it dawned on me!  Back in the day before I became ill I was constantly changing curtains, pillows and decorations in my home as I changed and my likes and dislikes changed.  Even back then I was changing and evolving. The same thing was happening with my clothes.  While I get the idea, I am still struggling with what my style is.  Maybe some day I will know but then again maybe I won’t.  I am going to have to surrender to the fact that I may never clearly know what I like or don’t like.  This may be a direct relationship to my illness and my now very apparent difficulty making decisions of any kind. 

My questions to you readers are:  Do you know your style?  Do you truly know who you are in terms of determining a clothing style?  Do those of you with this illness have the same struggles?  Do those of you who are not struggling with multiple chemical sensitivity or other illnesses have this battle?

In May I placed a post entitled, Who Are We?  In that post I included a snippet of a poem I wrote about identity loss.

10 responses to “Are we really who we think we are?

  1. it sounds so depressing!! reminesient of the way I feel. I feel your pain and sorrow. I have felt that way for over 20 years now. I sometimes wonder if men feel this way too because women seem to talk more about it to each other and guys don’t. and do others really understand what your going thru? you don’t fit in anywhere and whished you did. if I were there I’d take you shopping where you could get what you like for you and the girls, I’d find a way for you to be you again, thats my wish for you. love Roxie

    • Roxie – thank you for your kind words. I am trying hard to let go of the victimization role I have been in and to focus on the positive things that I can do and not let the other get me down. There is only so much I can do about the shopping and going out. If I sit and let myself dwell on it too much, I fall back into a dark place that I don’t like. Therefore I am trying hard to find things that make me happy and do what makes me feel good about myself. I am sorry that you have had such a rough time as well. I think you are right. Men just don’t about these kinds of things the way women do.

  2. Due to the financial hardship the mold exposure caused, I have to buy all my clothes now at the Goodwill or Salvation Army since I can’t afford new anymore. That makes being in “style” impossible….

    • Patricia – I understand the financial hardships mold exposures can cause from personal experience. I spoke with my attorney today about the style issue. He talked about having several of the same type and color of t-shirt. He said he probably had no style as well. I guess we have to lift ourselves up in other ways and let our desire to be stylish fly on the wind. I am sure wanting to be stylish and “in vogue” is a vanity thing and we shouldn’t be so vain. It is just hard to let go of remembering the nice things I had and got rid of and will never be able to replace and then to look in my closet to find nothing particulary exciting. I will keep chasing the style dream and maybe some day I will find out what my style is or perhaps by the that time I won’t really care so much.

      • I wish you for you to throw caution to the wind and go online and buy two or three dresses. When they arrive put on a mask and go somewhere safe (not your house in case the clothes are contaminated) then try them on. Decide on the best one, then send the others back for a full refund. After you have washed and aired to satisfaction, wear this lovely dress just for you. In your home, while you sew or watch telly. You may feel silly at first, but we have a right to look pretty or beautiful or classy, whichever way you look at it. Just and idea… Perhaps it’s not doable. But I think you need to find your style once again. Choose a colour first. one that makes your feel good. (Mines magenta, but I’d not ever wear that out, but would around the house. Lately, my colours are all ocean based tones of blues and greens.) Then choose a fabric based on your sensitivities and what you think will wash well. And go from there. Fashion is a fickle thing; it’s much better to find something you like for yourself.

        Buying clothes online takes practice but it can be mastered!

      • Miche

        You are so right. Soon they will be having spring clothing and I am going to do exactly what you suggest. I need at least something that is fun to wear around the house to make me feel normal whether I am reading, sewing or sitting here at my computer desk. Thank you for reminding me that I am more than just jeans, a tee, and tennis shoes.

  3. Before I was chemically sensitive I would by a lot of clothes from Goodwill, I like the mix and match of treasures found in those stores. Especially the jumpers! I can’t even go in there now due to the mustiness of the place, and washing powders used on the clothes.

    As you know, I threw everything out and had to start again. I now have three styles of clothes: sports clothes for walking (lately only on the treadmill or down the beach). Everything I buy is online from Ezibuy. I have to wait for the sales. And I can send them back if they don’t fit and they will refund my money or give me a smaller/bigger size. I usually go to the size guide and measure myself, that way I can tell if something will look good on me or not.

    My next style is a bit eccentric or idiotic depending on how you look at it: I like to look fashionable, I like long flowing, comfy dresses, some plain, some with embellishment. Lace. Flowers. Pinks. Aquas, turquoise, greens and blues: that is my true style. But I can’t wear these clothes out. If I go out, I wear cotton or wool and I dress sensible and businesslike so that I can make a good impression when trying to attend classes, or persuade someone to make accommodations for me. I feel it’s good to do that, but at the same time, whatever I wear will possibly get ruined from fragrances, so I have a few sets of clothes for going out, and I worry about being seen in the same clothes all the time (especially when I have so many nice dresses at home) but I have to do this. The way people see me dressed when I go out is not my true style. Wearing a mask is not my true style.

    Right now, I’m wearing a dress that I’ve never worn out, and no one apart from family have seen me in it. It’s a blue cotton jersey handkerchief dress and it’s comfy and pretty. This is my true style. And I’m sitting on my bed in my safe room typing on my laptop.

    • Right now my wardrobe is jeans (too cold for capris or shorts) and my yoga pants. Wearing my mask is not my true style either but necessary. I am sitting in my jammies and robe right now. I had my IV of Vitamin C, Magnesium and Glutathione. The Magnesium makes like a rag doll and the Vitamin C and Glutathione pull stuff out. I usually am tired after from the magnesium but manage through the rest of the day. Today I came home, ate lunch, did a few things on the computer and then crawled into my bed with a warm bean bag around my waist and read. I got up just before dinner and took a hot shower, put on the jammies and here I am. Tomorrow I will feel better. I love what the IV’s do but some days, like today, they exhaust me.

      • Ah, hu! Jammies can be stylish too, in that warm comfy way of feeling secure. I love putting mine on when I don’t feel well. They make me feel so safe and comfortable. I’m going to be asking my Doctor of Environmental Medicine about the IV Glutathione. I have the tablets, but many people tell me they don’t work, and so many have said the IVs have helped them. I’m taking the magnesium tablets as well. Is your’s the Martin Paul system? Is there a name or a doctor’s protocol to describe what you do/take?

        I do hope you feel better tomorrow. I so look forward to your posts. Take care xx

      • These are just things that my environmental doctors have put me on. I have also taken a liquid glutathione that helps better than the pills or capsules. For me the best way is the IV. I continue to take Vitamin C and Magnesium but the IV’s just give me the added push since I don’t absorb my vitamins and minerals as well as I should be.

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