Friday, September 12, 2008

Reclaiming myself

For the last week of the journaling workshop, we are supposed to write about reclaiming ourselves.

Reclaiming myself:

How much of me is going to be left, after what I am guessing will be 10 years of caregiving? I’m hoping not to have to give up my job, but I worry whether that will work. Right now John is pretty functional, and yet I already feel my freedom to follow my own path has been taken away from me.

A priest suggested that I ask myself where I would have hoped to be in 10 years if John hadn’t become ill, and then see if there was any small part of that dream I can hold on to. I would hope to have written a more important scholarly book and to have served a term as president of one of my professional societies. I would hope to have done an Ironman triathlon. I would hope to have built the program I run into a major. I would hope to live a simpler life, to have reduced chaos in my house and made my life more peaceful.

I guess I need to take that last one more seriously, because it is the one I can have. And in fact we are making plans to move in a year to a smaller house. As the appraiser commented today, the problem with a house with lots of storage space is that one accumulates lots of stuff. I keep clothes because they are classics or because I might wear that size again. I keep books because isn’t that what one does with books? I stock up on food and office supplies so I will have on hand anything I might need. I keep bills and bank statements and the like because it is too much trouble to sort out what should be kept. I keep china and decorative objects because my kids might want them. I need to change my thinking.

A friend’s mother used to tell her: “Someone else could be enjoying that right now.” Instead of holding onto things because I might need them in the future, I would like to learn to let go of anything that I haven’t used in years. I imagine that doing so is a step on the road towards becoming a person who radiates peace.

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