One of the things I say on a daily basis to no less than five people, is I'm sorry. And I'm sorry for a lot of things. If you think the people in my every day life have had to adjust to me being different than I was before my AFE, it's nothing compared to having to adjust myself. I've always assumed that when people have something happen to them that changes who they are, how they move around in the world, they adjust and move on. And maybe I'll get to that point, but I'm almost seven months out and I'm still not there. I think a lot of the people around me look at me and assume I'm doing OK because I'm out of the house, I can communicate and seemingly be able to conduct a conversation. You see me interact with my kids and I can laugh and smile, by all standards, I look OK, but inside I'm not anywhere near OK.
The biggest struggle I deal with is clearly the depression and anxiety. I can no longer be near a pregnant person without feeling anxious. I try hard to hide it so I don't make someone feel badly but I'll excuse myself when it gets too much. Leaving the house is so emotionally taxing because all of the commotion is too tiring. It's too much sound, action, lights, stimulation on every level and I just want to go back into my quiet little home. Aside from that I have the memory loss that I try really hard to hide from people. But still. I'm sure people have noticed.
If I don't respond to calls, texts, emails, and messages right away like I normally would, I'm sorry.
If I don't answer the door, or I call you at the last minute to let you know I can't meet up, I'm sorry.
If I look spaced out, I probably am. If you think I'm avoiding you on purpose, I'm not. I'm sorry.
If you think you can count on me to step up and volunteer like I always do, you can't. Please don't assume I can do anything. I'm doing my best, but I can't. I'm sorry.
I might be smiling or laughing, but I don't feel joy in anything anymore. I can fake it for awhile, but not for long. If I look like the Energizer Bunny with half dead batteries, that's an accurate description on how I feel. If you expect me to be fun and funny, joking around and up for a last minute adventure? I'm sorry. I want to be the old Sara, I really do. I miss that Sara so damn much. I look in the mirror and I don't recognize that person at all. The best description of what it's like is that show Wife Swap, where the wives switch lives and their families are horrified. That's me. I feel like I've gotten swapped out and I'm struggling. But I'm sorry. I'm trying every day, I'm trying to fake it, mostly for everyone else's sake, so just go with it.
And you know, it's OK for you to tell me how I'm different or seem different. It's really OK. You aren't going to hurt my feelings because what you notice, I assure you I have noticed it months ago. It's really OK.
I think perhaps the biggest change in me as a person is my level of empathy for strangers. I have always been an empathetic person but I feel more so now. When I read an article about someone who has killed themselves, I feel relief for them because I get it. I know what it's like to be so done with it and wishing I had the courage to do the same thing. People say suicide is a selfish act and while I can't disagree, I think being selfish is sometimes OK. There are times where we have to do what's best for us despite what other people think. Because at the end of the day, nobody knows what is best for us except for us. That's a lesson I'm learning now, and I am wracked with guilt every single day because I do worry about what others think I should be doing. I don't want to be a disappointment, but I do know I'm at a point in my life where I'm at a crossroads. I have to take care of myself. Who knew that would be the hardest thing to learn how to do?