For my whole life I thought I was in this world to look after my mum. From the age of three, that was my role and it continued right through until the summer of 2011, aged 24, when I was totally in the beginning phase of stepping away (I just didn’t realise it at the time). Last night during therapy I had quite a profound realisation…I realised that right now, there is a massive gap in my life. There’s a huge hole that makes me feel lost and without a home. I feel like I’m faking it but not making it yet. I feel lost and like my life isn’t complete and there’s a need, a huge need, that isn’t being met. And it’s the need to look after my mum. The need to fulfil this role I had for all my life. I feel like I’m playing pretend and trying so hard to play this kind of life – a life without the role I had for all those years – but will one day realise that it’s a ridiculous attempt, and this life is just not meant for me, and I’ll just wake up and go home. Go back home to the shit. Go back to where I belong. Or seemingly belong. Except however, none of those last lines are true. This life is meant for me.
Because I have stepped away to heal and to discover my own identity away from hers and the uniquely deep and twisted and fucked up ties we had together, I am in this life on my own, without a clear cut role that I had been given from such an early age. I am ‘lost’. The day I decided I would not speak to my mum for a long long time – the days following my overdose – were the days in which the hole began to open. The hole that had been filled to the brim, each corner crammed full of responsibility, worry, a weight of guilt and shame, and a lifetime of pain to get space in order to be filled with something else, one day. But I didn’t realise that yet.
It’s like I no longer am working a job I had for 22 years. I’ve gone into early retirement. Or many might say, really late retirement. Or a retirement that should never even have had to happen in the first place. And I’m guessing that people who go into retirement, early or late, feel a massive sense of freedom and relief, but also lost and without a purpose or a home for a while. And like they have a huge hole too. But on the flipside, I bet they also feel like they can now live the life they have always dreamed of and feel they deserve, too. But I bet they have to battle with really knowing they deserve it. And then comes embracing it. And really living it.
So, that pattern or phase is what I’m in too. Except my job was one I had as a kid and a teen, and early adult, and the retirement has left me with literally my whole life ahead of me. And a whole life entirely able to be designed and devised and lived by ME. Solely me.
For the first time in my life (I have said that A LOT over the last year and a bit) I have no-one to look out for except me. It’s fucking weird, it’s fucking bizarre, but it’s fucking cool. It’s still taking me time to get used to it, and maybe – highly likely – I’ll just have to continue faking it for a while. And with time, I’ll get to the Making It stage…the stage where I really know that this hole I was once filling with a job that I should never have had, can now be filled with my purpose…my dreams…my job…my actual role in life.
The role that I choose.