I used to be the sort of person who would ask about you and want to hear the answer, but lately, my life seems to be one long conversation about me. How are you, ask people I haven’t spoken to in months. My good friends and family start conversations in concerned tones of How are you doing? And so each exchange begins with me gladly obliging with a long narrative about my every twitch and twinge. I am happy to talk about myself and how I feel. Maybe a little too happy.
I have turned into a self-centered version of myself, happy to regale one and all with talk about myself. Sure it all started out interesting enough; there was something wrong with me, there were many tests, I went through some unpleasant surgery, went home to recover, and talk everyone’s ears off. Me, me, me, what could possibly be more fascinating than how far I did or didn’t walk today, and what strides or decisions I’ve made? I am the person who had a propensity towards emotional self-indulgence and has been cast to play Blanche DuBois. My tendency for me-talk was always there just below the surface, and now it’s been unleashed.
I’ve been home since October 15th, and even I am starting to grow bored with my health. During the first week of my recovery, I enjoyed being the wünderkind, having one and all admire my swift recovery, my energy, my daily improvement. It was heady stuff and I could hardly get enough of it, but now, three weeks in I may have had my fill of myself, and at this point, things aren’t changing quite as dramatically as those first two weeks. The big news this week is that last night I slept on my side.
Since the surgery, I’ve been sleeping on my back, and for anyone who is committed to their perfectly worked out, blankets and pillows arranged just so (which would be anyone over thirty) sleeping position, having to change it sucks. I have been uncomfortable, my cats have had to make adjustments, and I wake often. Sleeping on my side requires some strategic pillow placement, but it gets me halfway to my goal; sleeping on my stomach. Last night was great and this morning was the first in weeks that I woke feeling a trace of my old familiar morning energy. Can you imagine anything more interesting?
That is the public monolog I’ve been engaged in, but there is another conversation; the one I have in whispers, in tears, with just a few people, or in my head. There are questions that nag at me, problems I am avoiding, and some new realities I am reluctant to accept. I want to move forward, to resume my normal life, but my life has changed, and I have to figure out what normal looks like. I can barely bring myself to look at the red, angry scar that stretches from my ribcage down past my belly button, will it ever heal? I picture the surgeon slicing me open and pulling my insides out.
I have to navigate the healthcare system in a way that terrifies and exhausts me. I have to figure out how soon I can return to my job, and begin collecting a salary again, but I have to balance that need with what my body can tolerate. I am scared and though I can write the words, I am unable to say them. There are some things I can’t seem to say, no matter how much I talk.
Last week I got a call from someone with whom I have a business relationship, and not a particularly close one. I heard myself telling him all the details of my situation. I do not consider myself an over-sharer, I am generally wary of those who are, and I have clear boundaries about what I share and with whom, but there I was pouring out my whole story into the phone, and it hardly mattered who was on the other end, I clearly needed to say those things.
I tell myself this is temporary. I will feel like myself again soon; feel healthy enough to go back to the gym, and lift things that weigh more than five pounds. I will return to work and have to wake up early. One day I’ll forget for a second, and recognize the old me, and start to move away from the me that starts watching the clock at 8:00 wondering how soon I can go to bed. I will find out what is going on in other peoples’ lives, and we can stop talking all about me. That will be a great relief, but honestly, some part of me will probably miss all the attention.