My breaking point came at a family friend’s viewing. I vividly remember standing in front of his casket, looking down at this 82-year old man who had passed away, and wishing with all my heart it was me in there instead of him.
By late fall 2005, my physical symptoms began to dramatically affect my day-to-day life. I couldn’t continue to tell myself it was just stress or that I was “run down.” I began my quest in earnest to discover what was happening inside my body. It’s also when I discovered that even doctors don’t have all the answers.
It’s a story about a life interrupted by an insidious disease, and the discovery of how deep-seeded is this thing we call “Hope.”
It’s been 10 years since my now-ex husband announced with flat, dead certainty that he didn’t want to be married to me any longer – that our marriage was “done,” as if we were a pie baking in the oven. Done.
Nothing prepared me for the physical, emotional and spiritual fatigue, and the ongoing insomnia I would experience when I became chronically ill. It goes well beyond the occasional night or two of no sleep. It’s so much more than being “tired.” It’s exhaustion at the cellular level.
I am not old…she said. I am rare. I am the standing ovation at the end of the play.
Like many women, I thought of self-care as selfish or indulgent, served up with an undercurrent of guilt. It seemed extravagant – like a weekend at a spa, rather than emotional first aid of the highest order. Like the classic example flight attendants give about putting on your oxygen mask first before helping others, it’s important to tend to yourself first.
Moving forward often demands that we live lost, knowingly surrendering our attachment to who we think we are, voluntarily stumbling around in the dark with little to guide us. Growing is all about leaps into the seeming unknown.
Brenda is part of a tribe of women who were the first to enter the professional world in large numbers, and are the first to encounter the hazards surrounding retirement. Defining themselves largely through their careers, they have challenged traditional models at every stage of their lives, and are now being challenged by their own negative stereotypes about retirement.
After talking with more than 100 women from all across the country, about 50% expressed concern that they were becoming marginalized because of their advancing years. The other 50% had no such concerns. In fact, I had to define more clearly and concisely what I meant by "invisible" in order for them to answer the question. It just wasn't on their radar.