Sunday, June 3, 2012

GBE 2: Defining my sense of self

I found the GBE 2 prompt for last week to be quite appropriate, especially as it was due on June 2nd, which was Dad's one-year anniversary. I wanted to relate my feelings on this topic on June 2nd, but friends who surprised me for the day didn't allow me to have the time to do so.

My sense of self had always seemed strongly developed. I attended a Montessori school as a child and currently teach in the philosophy. The method naturally allows for a strong sense of self in children. I remember in high school, I missed out on a lot of that teen angst because I already knew who I was and what I wanted to do.

When my father died a year ago, I felt that sense of self shaken up. I was no longer defined as being Rick and Norma's daughter. I was now the daughter of a man who had passed away and a woman who was disappearing from Alzheimer's. My own personal tragedies from August 2010 - June 2011, too much loss for one year, weighed so heavily on my soul that I could not help but define myself by them.

As this one-year anniversary was coming closer, I started to feel impatient. I knew that my definition of self was going to change on that day. I was ready for it. I needed that one-year cycle to finally be complete so that I could truly move on. I also knew in advance it could be a difficult day, so I just wanted to get it over with. I love to be in tune with my emotions. I need to roll around them and truly feel every ounce of the pain. At the same time, I have gotten tired of the hurt.

I woke up yesterday morning, somewhat apprehensive. I had been at some friends' house the night before and we were up until 3 am talking. I woke up at 9 because I was supposed to spend the morning with my BFF. I ate and then met up with her around 11:30 to go to the Public Market. As we started walking around, I felt a sense of enlightenment. My shoulders felt less weighted down. I was breathing easier. I felt a sense of relief and happiness that I haven't in a while. I had made it. It felt almost like my birthday.

We then met up with the Man for lunch and then took a long walk along a bridge to the pier. I have a bridge phobia that seriously irritates me. The first time he and I went on this bridge, which really is nothing more than an elevated walkway through a swampy area, I was on the borderline of having a panic attack. This time, with the two of them by my side, I managed to conquer it in both directions and felt fine. (It's weird - I can never predict how I am going to react, nor will I necessarily have the same experience twice on a bridge.)

I could almost feel Dad's excitement at my latest accomplishment as I exited that gate.

I have been doggie sitting all weekend, so the Man came over for Chinese takeout and movies. A little before 10:30 pm, I opened a bottle of wine and poured a glass. Dad died at 10:30. I wanted to mark the moment with a toast in his honor. Almost immediately, I got a similar picture from my sister. It was one of those rare sisterly moments where we had the same thought at the same time.

I managed to sleep a full eight hours last night. I woke up this morning and felt kind of funny. I felt like a toddler taking her first steps all over again. My sense of self has completely changed. I will never again be exactly who I was before, but I already see more of those glimpses inside myself. My core is the same. But I no longer feel defined by my father's loss. It's time for a new chapter in life.


  1. However difficult the last year has been, I've watched as you have slowly come back, uncurled and prepared yourself to turn the page. May your new chapter be filled with joy, laughter, success and fond memories xx

  2. Very touching writing, Andrea. Over the past four years I've also had to redefine myself a few times. No longer a sister. The sole remaining child, then the only caregiver, of an aging mother with dementia, suddenly thrusted into practical and emotional responsibilities I never had before. But my experiences have also helped me sharpen and redefine my own perspective of myself. I've learned that I'm stronger and more capable of caring and giving and of handling responsibilities than I ever believed I was. Maybe that's true for you, too. You have been through a terrible year, but you seem to have gained a lot of insight into life and yourself. I hope that you will move on with increased strength and peace.

  3. I don't know how I missed this one. It is lovely and loving. I am moved by your ability to accept and also thrilled at your sense of self becoming a reality to you. I have seen you brighten and bloom in the past year and was always so impressed by your giant need and desire to give of yourself. I understand the artist heart that raised you and why you are such an unselfish person.
    I wish you nothing in your future but the most passionate life one can envision. The children will all benefit and you will never be lacking for anything that matters. ♥