When it comes to my mission to rediscover myself and wake up the real me, that I seem to have lost along the way, last year I feel like I made a major breakthrough and the best way I can think to describe it is that it feels like I finally found a way to slowly start turning the volume back up.
I’ve had this volume metaphor, stuck in my head for weeks if not months now, and maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m pretty sure reconnecting to music is what flipped the switch, but either way, I can’t shake this metaphor. So instead I’m going to explore it.
I think I started to lose myself around the time my dad died. His cancer came back so quickly and everything escalated so fast that I didn’t really have the capacity to think about much else that summer. And then he passed away. And no matter how much warning you have, you’re never prepared to lose a parent, let alone lose a parent at 18.
When my dad died, I didn’t cope or process or deal with it, I just shut it down and steamrolled forward, focusing on starting college and little else. And a little bit more of me started to disappear.
The years following my dad’s death were rough and filled with one hectic chaotic situation after another and I needed to survive it. So like I did with my dad’s death, I locked it down and marched on, focusing on what I needed to do to make it through the next day, or the next week.
Life wasn’t horrible. I still had fun. I was happy (some days more than others obviously). I was successful, and I had great friends and made great memories. But I wasn’t really there. Not all of me. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I did this for years and when you lock it down and live in survival mode for so long, it’s hard not to become a robot-like shell of yourself. And the worst part is, I didn’t realize I was even doing this. I knew things were rough and I was bearing a lot of weight and responsibilities I wasn’t equipped to. I knew I was just doing my best to make it by, but I didn’t realize how much I was shutting myself down.
And by the time I realized what had happened, it was too late. Or it felt like it.
It wasn’t until I was in Hawaii, and married, probably around the time I started this blog, that I was able to slow down, look around, and take inventory. With the help of my husband, some therapy, and a lot of looking inward, I realized how much I had changed. How much of myself was gone or at least no longer making an appearance.
I realized I was basically a shell of who I was.
Going back to that volume metaphor. It was like years of survival mode had slowly turned down the volume on who I was until eventually, the real me was on mute. It’s like I could see the real me, I could feel the real me inside, but I couldn’t get to her. I couldn’t hear her. And I didn’t know how to give her a voice again.
Now don’t get me wrong. The last several years, since I realized I was gone, and decided I wanted myself back, I’ve been working at it. Working at it really hard. And it hasn’t all been for nothing, but something changed last year.
Something clicked, or switched, or whatever you want to call it.
Last year it was like I finally figured out how to give the real me a voice again. I turned the volume back on and although it’s still low, almost like a whisper in the background now, I can hear myself again.
I still have a long way to go and so much work to do, but it’s nice to be able to hear myself again. It’s nice to feel like me again.