Who was I before? Have I ever known the person that I really am? Or has the person I thought I was always been hiding behind a multitude of masks?
Throughout this “grief journey” my number one goal is to finally figure out exactly who I am. I know that I am no longer who I was almost seven months ago. And for a lot of reasons, I am grateful for that. Loss has changed me. It’s up to me to make that change be for the better.
When Josh first entered rehab, I attended a class put on by the facility for families to learn about addiction, etc. That was where I first heard that addiction is a family disease. And they didn’t mean just that it tends to run in families – they meant that it affects everyone involved, not just the person with the addiction. It took me a long time (nearly 16 months) to fully grasp just how much truth is in that statement.
I may not have known that I was living with addiction, but I did know that I was living with someone in recovery. I was living with someone who was struggling to keep his head above water because every single thing that could have gone wrong, did. This man was fighting for his life every single day and the world just kept saying, “Nope. That’s not good enough. Try harder.”
Because of this, I sacrificed myself and all of my wants and needs to be one of the life preservers keeping my husband afloat. Was that the right thing to do? Maybe – maybe not. It’s not about that. It’s what happened – and it’s what often happens in households living with active or recovering addiction. I tried so very hard to fight for that man when he was too tired from treading the waters to fight for himself. I did my absolute best. And then, in a matter of seconds, my reason to keep fighting was gone.
It was time to learn how to keep myself afloat.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I still fight and advocate for him and for other military and first responders struggling with PTSD and substance abuse every day. And I hope to do even more of that in the future.
But before I lose myself again in the service of others – I need to learn who I really am. I need to have a solid foundation to return to so that I can break this endless cycle of co-dependency in my life.
At the seminar I attended recently, there was a class entitled “Who am I now?” After learning how fresh I was in my grief, someone else in the class asked me if I was sure that was where I wanted to be. Of course I was sure. Nobody else knows my journey. I miss my husband desperately, but he is not coming back. I am still here. I need to find myself again.
They gave us a worksheet with three sections on it. I encourage you all to take a quick inventory of these three things every once in a while as well. I’ll share my responses with you.
Section 1. I was…
- A wife
- A protector
- A caretaker
- A stepmom
Section 2. I am…
- A widow
- Lacking purpose
- A stepmom
Section 3. I want to become…
- An inspiration
- A story teller
- My own reason to live
- An advocate
- A better provider, caregiver, stepmother
- Moving forward, but never on
Somehow, some way I will find myself in the midst of all of this. I will stumble upon the little pieces that speak to me and I will put them together in a way that only I, the owner of myself and my life, can. I will create the mosaic of who I am and it will be my greatest masterpiece.
One second, one minute, one hour and one day at a time.