Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm just ME!!

As a caregiver, I struggle regularly to know where my husband ends and I begin.  It is easy for me to talk about his injury, his story, how he is doing.  However, it is really hard to talk about me, to stop and evaluate how I am doing.  Between being a full time caregiver, wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend; my life is quite full of what everyone else is doing.  Lately, I've been trying to do just a little bit for me!

Whenever I come into contact with anyone who knows me and my family, the first question is usually about how Allen is doing.  I am totally good with that because I know how to answer that question, usually!  (Sometimes this gets a little tricky because physically he looks okay most of the time, at least to acquaintances.)  The other day though, someone asked about me.  It somewhat caught me off guard, and actually left me a little speechless.  I had to stop and think a minute, because I just am not used to thinking about me.

So, this really has me thinking.  Who am I and what do I even like to do?  If I could work, what would I want to do?  Would I want to go back to teaching?  Do I still have any passion left for that?  It's what I always wanted to do and I loved it while I did it.  But, do I see myself in that role ever again?  It is something I need to be deciding because my teaching certificate won't stay current forever and it is quite costly to take the classes to keep it up.  

I often think and sometimes share how Allen has changed since his injury.  Rarely do I think about how I've changed in this same time.  Whoa, have I changed?!  I used to be pretty shy and very reserved, especially in new situations.  Not anymore.  I've always hated confrontations and conflict, (at least with everyone outside of my close family,) but I've learned that there is a place and way to get things done, and sometimes it takes some conflict and confrontations.  I'm much more confident in myself and am not afraid to speak out for what I believe is right.  I have a huge fear of public speaking, but have been about as public as can be in several situations and have actually handled it pretty well!!  I've willingly agreed to speak to groups about our story!  I'm also much more independent.  I have a confidence and efficiency about myself that I have never had before and it is exciting to me.  I have gained an understanding that life happens and there are certain things that just aren't worth getting upset about.  I've learned that I can do just about anything I set my mind to! Most importantly, I've learned that I'm just me and I am human!

All of this self evaluation has led me to ask, what is my passion?  I definitely have a passion for wounded warriors, their families, and mental health.  There is a great need in our country for advocacy for all of these groups and I can see my passion for them all.  I've also realized that we have to start speaking out and sharing our stories that include our struggles, or nothing is ever going to change.  We can't expect the people with the power, our elected officials, to make these changes if we keep quiet.  They will not know what we need if we do not tell them!  

While I still have a lot to rediscover about myself, I think I am beginning to take care of me a little bit, while still taking care of the rest of my family.  This semester I am taking a digital photography class just because it is something I'm interested in.  One of my friends and I, who is also a caregiver for her wounded warrior, have agreed to talk on the phone every Friday.  During this particular phone call we are not allowed to talk about our husbands, rather we have to talk about ourselves!!  I also bought a treadmill this week as I have a hard time being able to leave the house many days!!  

Traveling this road to recovery will most likely continue to bring change for both me and my husband.  I hope that I can continue to embrace this change and take the time to stop and evaluate every so often so that I don't lose track of where my husband ends and I begin!!  After all, I'm just me!!!

Even Now........Gina


  1. A very insightful post. You are right, as caregivers we tend to lose sight of ourselves, and that lack of self awareness erodes away at our underlying personality. But hey, it sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the situation, you've identified it, and have communicated your message articulately.

    I too have a burning passion to get the word out. I've even contemplated doing something sensational to draw attention to myself and thereby the cause....short of standing naked on a bridge above I5, I can't see what else I can do to get noticed!!

  2. I have written a very similar post. I think all of us caregivers tend to loose who we are. Thank you for posting this and I was interested in hearing what you are doing for yourself.