As the holidays wind down and I reflect on all the events, gatherings, and visitors of the past few weeks, there is a certain sense of unease that has lodged itself in my gut. Never one to second guess myself or overanalyze my interactions with others, I am recently wracked with self-consciousness and a general feeling of awkwardness that I’m convinced is obvious to the outside world. With all my attention to TC 2.0, I have neglected to notice the changes this experience has had on my own personality, or Abby 2.0 as I perhaps should be called.
I can only hope Abby 2.0 is a temporary model, one that will soon be replaced by a sturdier, more self-assured version. After months of nonstop running around, taking care of Jack, coordinating TC’s care, and immersing myself in brain injury literature, I am only now stopping to examine how this has changed me.
I know I am different, even if it hasn’t been detected by everyone yet. I feel like my little family no longer belongs to that greater society in which we once so seamlessly operated. We now belong to the “other” club, the place for people who can’t make long term plans for their future, or schedule a vacation, or even stand in a crowd of people waiting for a table at the Olive Garden. We’re different. We don’t fit a particular mold. We leave people tongue tied when we explain our unusual and tragic situation. We are the people you most definitely do not want to engage at a cocktail party. But that’s okay. You won’t find us at a lot of cocktail parties these days.
I keep trying to smile, fake wittiness, and carry on with life as it once existed, but inside I am fatigued, listless, and quite unsure of how to be the Abby I was before. I am constantly fighting the urge to build a little cocoon around myself, so that I can separate this strange new person from the rest of the world. I wonder if some isolation might let me better heal or if that is simply a justification that is used by the socially anxious.
It’s by far one of the most perplexing feelings I’ve experienced thus far because it is so completely out of synch with who I was before. I used to feel the need to be constantly surrounded by people. I hated missing any social event that promised to be fun. I vowed to be one of those moms who refused to compromise her friendships despite the demands of mothering and marriage.
Now all I want is an ocean between my family and the rest of the universe so that I don’t have to be so acutely aware of how strange we are. I know this is a phase. I know as we move forward I will continue to transform in ways that are currently unforeseeable. As I ponder New Year’s resolutions and determine which might be appropriate for me, I have so many ideas that I struggle to pinpoint only a few. So I am keeping my resolution simple: keep changing. Accept that Abby 2.0 isn’t your best self or the person you are destined to be. She is only one prototype in a journey that is destined to bring greater knowledge and deeper understanding. Find a way to live with your current imperfections and just keep changing.
We are all such works in progress, yet we tend to approach life as if we might be able to put that final brushstroke on the masterpiece that is ourselves. I’ve learned enough over the past year to understand that it doesn’t work like that. We are constantly in motion, often unsatisfied, and searching for more. And while I am no exception to any of the above, I am beginning to see the value in change itself. This year I’m not working toward any specific vision of myself. I just want to stay in motion.