New identities….

Faded and artistically unremarkable, this photo captures
so much love between me and my mother. It’s one of my favorites.

I began this blog post in June, as a way to re-launch my blog – formerly just a sort of on-line journal – to accommodate two writers and more photography. A way for Mitch and I to share our travels and adventures, if you will. At that time, the biggest identity crisis in my life centered on a running injury which had sidelined me for more almost a year. This is how I began, then:

For nearly a year now, I’ve been struggling to reconcile myself to the fact that I no longer identify primarily as a runner. Plantar fasciitis first reared it’s ugly head last July and true to form, I didn’t take it nearly seriously enough, for far too long. I’ve had nearly every other running injury and recovered fairly quickly, easily and completely so I probably didn’t understand the particular nuisance that is plantar fasciitis. I do now.

This is how I began, but this is not now what I wish to think of as a new identity. Since the time of that draft, my mother has died, and more than anything, that event has begun a metamorphosis in me, as I take stock and re-calibrate, learning who I am in this new reality. The plantar fasciitis is still there, in a fuzzy, background kind of way and I’ve learned to accommodate it, doing what is necessary to run again, if not as far and not as fast. Adjusting to the loss of my mother has been harder, obviously. She had been sick for years, battling one health issue after the next, but this didn’t make it any easier to face the loss when it came. And it came, suddenly, this past July, leaving the whole family stunned, saddened and breathless. 

I’m still holding my breath, to an extent, as I navigate the waters of motherless daughter, trying to be there for my father and brothers and reassessing what is important for me. The fact that this loss corresponds with the college graduation of our youngest and my 50th birthday adds to the identity crisis, as I enter the autumn of my own existence even as I still feel like spring on the inside, most of the time. 

Since starting this draft, so much has changed and I don’t think I’ve found my way around all the changes, just yet. I read this incredibly relevant quote recently, in Outside Magazine, buried improbably in an essay about the loss of running ease:

It’s not age that makes you an adult, I see now, or even most of the experiences that age brings. What finally does it is the things you lose along the way. A parent dies; you don’t get the girl. And you are wrecked. And you are less for these losses. What makes you an adult, finally, is that you choose to keep going afterward.”

I was wrecked. I am less for the loss. I’m choosing to keep going forward, even if the destination, and sometimes even the direction, is not completely clear. Yes, I have a new identity…but it’s largely an outline at this point. At this point in life, I know enough to know that I can choose how to respond to this new situation, this new normal. Despite the pain and despite the loss, I think I’ll strive to view it as pretty damn exciting…. Onward.

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