I first posted this on June 21, 2013. I quoted an excerpt from my book (in bold) where I said I had another of my emotional meltdowns. I was always having emotional meltdowns. I was over a thousand miles from home by myself and had been there for months already when I wrote this. I had also in that short time gone through a complete hysterectomy and my sixth sinus surgery.
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. Today, a little over a year after this post, I still can say that I don’t truly know what style I am in terms of clothes and I still struggle with making decisions.