I am a facade. Standing in front of the world with my hair curled, makeup on and put together outfit. I look like a woman with a career. A woman with the perfect life. I can see it sometimes…how envious those that don’t know are of me. How ironic. But I am a liar. It is a farce to everyone I meet….
I feel I am constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I am one tiny slip up away from letting it all crumble down around me. I am one brick removed away from my protective wall from running into a dark forest and never returning.
I am not who I purport to be in my work get-up and my strong presence in meetings and networking events and school events and gatherings of any kind. I seem so together and strong and unbreakable. It is funny how putting on the right outfit, sliding on the right bracelet and earrings and necklace and heels can almost make it seem as if you don’t have this second life you are surrounded by. It is so surreal; as I am being one person, I can feel the other person that is desperate and scared and lonely watching and shaking her head in amazement.
I am not just one person. I am not really two people. I am multiple people. I am the Karen that shows up for work each day, trying desperately to keep her job.
I am Mom. (and that my friends entails a whole other list of who I am) I am a researcher for new drugs, clinical trials and articles for Jim. I am an advocate for more research funding and awareness. I am a friend. I am a neighbor. I am a softball and baseball Mom (this is different than just being a Mom). I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am an aunt. I am a housekeeper, cook, accountant, decision maker, fundraiser, jogger, schedule keeper and blogger. I know many of you assume these roles on a daily basis. Some of you may be single parents and you are just shaking your head at me. Silly girl. You ain’t seen nothing yet…..
I know. I know and what can I do?
Yesterday we were driving to my nephew’s high school graduation. There was a storm blowing through and it would have been so easy to just not go.It was a 4 hour drive to my parents and then another hour to the ceremony. No one would blame us for not showing up, right?
I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the person that takes any excuse to get out of something that might be a little demanding or a little extra effort. I have an awesome nephew and I am glad we were there to help him celebrate such a momentous occasion. I have every hope and desire to keep that commitment to other things that are important in my life. But I have noticed as Jim progresses, my list of things that are important seem to change. Almost daily.
As I was driving down, I looked over at Jim for the first time. We had been busy packing and getting things in order before leaving and I hadn’t REALLY looked at him. So, I looked over and noticed that he hadn’t shaved. Hmmmm. Please remember, Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force……
“Jim, did you shave this morning?”
Then I look again and I see that he has shaven. But he has missed most of his chin and parts above his lip and most of one side. My heart breaks. I have read enough articles. I know what is coming. I know one day I will have to shave for him. I know I will have to put the toothpaste on his toothbrush and I will have to dress him and bathe him.
Looking over and seeing his sporadically shaven face reminded me of what is to come. On our way to such a joyous, exciting occasion, I am forced to remember what is really going on. There it is.
So many come up to me and tell me how good Jim looks. I don’t think so. I think he has aged exponentially. He has lost weight and doesn’t look like MY JIM.
Alzheimer’s doesn’t affect your physical presence for quite a while. It only messes up the mind. So, someone can look “normal” and at the same time be anything but.
So, I think I look normal but inside I am falling apart. The same for Jim. He looks like a guy in shape and ready to take on the world. If he could only figure out where his glasses are to read that book that he put somewhere…