I have been wondering lately what an authentic life would look like. I feel like authenticity requires knowing oneself and one’s desires. I am not there.
I spent my twenties and thirties repressing my feelings out of necessity. I no longer can repress my feelings, but they are only now starting to rise to the surface. It may be years before I really get in touch with them fully, if I ever do.
Why wouldn’t I get in touch with my feelings? Because parts of me are dying. This past summer showed me how I am dying inside. What is dying? My hopes and dreams and the person I used to be.
What do you call someone whose soul is gone but their body is still animated? A zombie. I am not the person I used to be. I don’t know what I will be eventually, either. I have no idea what I am anymore, if anything. I am nowhere. I am stuck in that in-between state.
People tell me that this is a phase and that it will not last. Eventually, Barry will die and I will move on. This never-ending responsibility will end. I used to believe them. Then I got the questionable mammogram. The assumption had always been that I would outlive Barry. This summer, that assumption came to an abrupt end. I miss that assumption. It’s amazing the things we take for granted, such as existing.
I think about Barry’s Uncle Bob’s wife. I asked Barry what her name was and he cannot recall. I could just as easily die that anonymously. My only memory of her is of her sleeping on the couch, much like I do. She died and Uncle Bob lived another five or ten years. I’m sure people told her that it was just a phase. They never told her that it would be her last phase, ever. She didn’t take care of Uncle Bob until he died; she took care of him until she died. Death parted them and he was the last one standing.
It takes a lot of energy to build a new life. The bottom line is that I will never have that energy until Barry passes. As long as there is a one-way flow of energy out of me and into him, I will not have the energy needed to create a new life for myself or to deal with repressed feelings that may arise. I give and he receives. It really is that simple.
Trying to act authentically given these circumstances is hard. I know little about what is genuine or not. I have figured out a little bit, however. For example, I do not feel like a wife. I am a live-in caretaker. Period. The only thing I could think of doing to honestly express that is to take off my wedding band. Barry hasn’t noticed. Why would he? He is still being taken care of.
I am the one not being cared for. I have to take care of myself to a certain degree or I will not be functional at all, even physically. Then I would be truly dead, not even a zombie. Part of me wishes I cared about that. Is not caring part of being an authentic zombie?