A New Sense of Self

This month marks 3 1/2 years since he passed away unexpectedly.  Some people say not to watch the calendar and not to keep track.  I’ve tried that, but I have to look at dates every day at work, so it sneaks up and I see it.  Does it hit me as hard as it used to? Not so much anymore, but it does cause me to take a look back at how things have changed.

Believe it or not, I’m an introvert.  That basically means that I get my energy from being alone. I must have my alone time to feel centered again.  Those who know me would probably argue that point, knowing that I think nothing of speaking to large groups of people, or playing and singing in front of hundreds, but it is, in fact, true.

I’ve also battled anxiety, especially in my youth. I was so incredibly shy!  My mom liked to tell the story of how she was at the doctor and had taken me with her when I was small. We’d gone to the same doctor for forever and it was a small practice with two nurses, both of whom I’d known my whole short life.  Mom was in some kind of contraption for her neck and something happened and she told me to go open the door to the room and get one of the nurses, and I refused! I was too scared!   I was always afraid of not knowing what to say in unfamiliar situations.

That anxiety returned after hubby’s death.  I had to do so many things outside of my comfort zone that the anxiety almost shut me down.  But I had no choice. There were things that had to be done; things like going to the Social Security office when I had no clue what I was really doing there.

I’m an organizer and a planner. I do fine if I know what I need to do and when to do it. Play in front of a crowd? Sure, if I know what I’m playing.  Speak to a group? Sure, if I know the topic and I’m prepared.  Walk into an unknown place with unknown people and ask for what I want or need?  Not so much, or at least, not until this last year.

It goes back to Find a Way or Make a Way, or as I sometimes say, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”  Sometimes you don’t have a choice but to do things that make you anxious. Last year this time, I had to go visit schools for the first time with my job.  All I had to do was go to the school and ask if the principal or counselor was available. If not, then I gave the information to the secretary.  Easy, right? Not last year! Last year I made myself almost sick with anxiety over this task.  This year? No big deal.

What changed it for me?  Someone told me to think about what I had to do and ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”  “Is the world going to end if that happens?”  With that perspective, and the ability to think about what I had to do, as well as role-play various scenarios in my mind, I’ve become stronger and more comfortable with new situations.

I often wonder if hubby would recognize me these days.  It’s amazing not only how much my life has changed, but how much I have changed.  I’m still an introvert.  I still need my alone time. But the things that scared me even six months ago no longer cause that anxiety.

It’s hard to go from being a “we” to a “me” after more than twenty years, and maybe I won’t stay just a “me” forever, but for now, I’m okay with it.

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