I think back to the old me. She seems so carefree and fun. She was extroverted and could entertain a crowd. Now, I wonder what I even talked about with others. I can sit in a room, surrounded by others, and not feel like I have a thing in common with them.
The old me would’ve classified herself as a “worrier”. I don’t think she fit the definition of “worrier” as much as she fit the definition of “worst case scenario prepper”. She drove her husband a bit crazy with the prepping. She prepped for so many worst case scenarios that never happened. Then, the one true worst case scenario actually happened. The one worst case scenario that there could be no contingency plan for. I no longer feel the need to prep for worst case scenarios. I’ve seen the ultimate example of how all of the preparation could not and did not change the outcome of the situation.
That doesn’t mean the new me is devoid of worry, though. I have found a plethora of other things to worry about. Of course the things that happened to us, but also things that have happened to other loss moms. I’ve been introduced to things that I never even knew were in the realm of possibility.
When I think about the new me, there are a lot of things that are strange and unfamiliar. The fact that I have a sort of social anxiety is foreign to me. I hit a wall around the 2 or 3 hour mark when spending time with others, and it is unsettling. I physically feel anxiety when people are over past that mark. Like “Why are they still here?”, “Are they ever going to leave?” I thought that one was maybe a hallmark of fresh grief, but it seems to be hanging around. I can only hope that this will eventually begin to fade away.
I need a much larger amount of downtime. I used to pack my calendar full of events, but now I need to make sure I have a few evenings per week to just hang out at home and watch TV. I recently had a long holiday weekend, and the only things on my checklist were to do some writing, and catch up on recorded reruns of “ER”.
The new me does have some redeeming qualities. I am more sensitive and thoughtful. I think about the potential impacts of my words before I say them. For someone who previously stuck their foot in their mouth A. LOT., that’s huge. While there is some worry, I also live life a little more freely than I did before. I tell people I love them with a lot more frequency that I used to. I shamelessly make decisions with my heart and see more value in the human element than I ever did before.
Right now, it’s hard for me to accept the new me. I don’t doubt that it will take some time to sort through who I am now, and I am sure there will be several more iterations over the coming months. I’m guessing the final product will be different than the old me, but I hope to also be able to incorporate some of my old qualities. (Especially the ones that make it possible for me to have a social life.)
Who are YOU after loss?