Ever watch your life, knowing that it’s slipping into the toilet but, feeling unable to stop its free fall? Kind of like one of those dreams where you know you’re falling but, you can’t stop it and hope to wake up before you hit the bottom.
I’m not talking about substance abuse or a deep depression here. I’m talking about knowing that you’re at a crossroads of change where things within your life have changed so drastically that you haven’t had the chance to catch your breath and figure out who you are or, where you’re heading next and wanting Life to just slow down a bit so that you can catch up with yourself in the process.
There’s always a stage in our lives where these types of feelings will happen. They seem most prevalent though, through the teen years, after graduating from higher education and entering the real work world, the getting married and starting a family years, then, not again until the empty nest and retirement years hit. The common theme throughout each of these stages appears to be change and new roles.
Every time we hit one of these stages in our lives where either our roles are changing or we’re entering a new phase of Life, it becomes necessary to learn new coping strategies as well as finding new roles to fill. Often, these milestones mean a graduation of sorts that may feel more like torture than anything else. We are often left, finding ourselves, having to re-invent ourselves and our lives just to cope. It’s no easy chore to say the least.
I’ve always been a caregiver throughout my life for one person or another. Even as a child, living in a dysfunctional home, I became my parent’s caregiver more than I was a child. After that, I became a mom which involves a great deal of caregiving. During that time frame, I helped take care of dying grandparents and parents and, that continued on up until the past couple of years.
Now, when I should find myself feeling freed of responsibilities because there is no longer the need for caregiving and being an empty nester, I’m finding myself once again, totally lost in Life. I am asking myself, who I am, what I want, where I want to see my life go. I should be rejoicing that I finally have this opportunity to do that after all of the years where that was not a choice, let alone a thought. However, I am finding myself, actually quite lost.
I once thrived on necessity and roles, knowing what I was supposed to be doing every moment of every day. There’s familiarity with routine and “must do’s”. There’s a certain sense of grounding to know where you’re supposed to be, what you’re supposed to be doing, when and how you’re supposed to be doing it all. When all of that has been taken away, we can find ourselves feeling like we’re afloat on an open ocean with no land in sight to head towards. It can become a frightening feeling rather than the freeing feeling that we once thought it would be, should we have this chance. The question of “who am I?” becomes a frightening question to delve into. The question of “what should I do now?” becomes almost overwhelmingly empty and we tend to want someone or something to give us those answers because we honestly don’t know anymore.
Pardon me while I pull up my chair and look at these questions a little more closely.
If you’re finding yourself in a similar boat, no matter what your stage of Life, I hope you’ll join into a discussion and journey with me. It’s one that is done best with company and empathy.
It’s the journey of finding oneself. A journey that we all have to take all throughout our lives…or, at the least, at some point or another.