The past two years have been very stress-filled for me, and I have often felt “not myself.” I have lost track of the number of times I have said, “I am just not myself.” Sometimes it is connected to daily activities, like being almost incapable of parallel parking (something I used to do so well I often thought it could be my “talent” in a contest). Other times it is the absence that I notice.
For example, I have long been faithful at sending cards to family and friends for birthdays and other occasions. I love the whole experience of browsing the racks of cards, sometimes laughing out loud and ultimately finding the perfect card. But, over the past two years, I have rarely entered a card store or even remembered many of the occasions that once filled my calendar. When I realize I have missed someone’s birthday, I think, “That is not like me”—and then I forgive myself. I have had other things on my mind.
Baking is another thing I love to do, and I would usually have chocolate-chip cookies on hand at all times. I would bake banana muffins year-round, zucchini bread in summer and my Christmas baking would begin on Thanksgiving weekend. But my cookie sheets, muffin tins and bread pans have not seen the inside of the oven for a very long time. I have settled for store-bought cookies for the past two years, which is definitely not like me.
At some point recently, I realized that I have been keeping two lists in my head: One was titled “like me” and the other, “not like me.”
For the better part of the last two years, the scales have tipped in favor of “not like me.” Every missed birthday and store-bought cookie reminded me that I was not myself. The list also includes my lack of exercise, knitting, gardening—all those hobbies and habits that shape my daily life and give expression to who I am. I don’t even take my daily vitamins any more.
I have not been myself.
So, when I not only remembered three birthdays in July, but actually bought cards and sent them (and on time), I noted how “like me” that felt. Two of the birthday people even received gifts (ok, so they were gift cards I bought on-line, but still…).
I moved into my new house a few days ago and went shopping to stock my pantry. I walked down the baking aisle and optimistically picked up basic supplies, thinking of the day when the aroma of fresh-baked cookies fills my new home. On that day I will know that the scales are tipping and I am becoming myself again.