Anyone who knew me when I was on campus at college, knew who I was meant to be, or at least who I now want to be.
I was an extrovert! Can you imagine me as an extrovert? It sounds crazy to me now, but I knew many people and many more knew me. I would walk up to people on campus I did not know and start a conversation. It was very common for me to hear someone calling my name and sometimes I do not know who they were. It made no difference to me because everyone was my friend or a future friend. Now I am an introvert. Saying hello to a cashier is sometimes too much interaction. After living in this county 21 years, I know few people and even less know me. I thrive working on my back deck, not saying a word to anyone all day, until the family returns from school. Any day in the office fills me with anxiety and stress. Going out and being with friends is difficult despite how much I love being with them.
I was happy! Did you know I could be exuberant and laughing all the time? You might have characterized me as ‘bubbly’. When confronted with some small problem like my car not starting or not knowing how I could pay my college bill, I’d just summersalt over it and laugh. I conquered problems, sometimes with hard work, but always with a smile and a laugh. I can still triumph over difficulties but the innocent soul is gone. Only a few people allow me to be comfortable enough and can cause me to forget where I am a moment while also making me laugh.
I had faith! My faith ran deep. I never had reason to try, but if I thought for a second Christ wanted me to walk on water, I would have stepped out. I had paid my deposits to Ball State University when I heard God tell me to go to Lee College. I had no clue how I could afford a private school but I gave it no second thought. I applied, paid my deposit, and received full tuition, room and board scholarship. I have many other stories of faith. But the pure faith is now strained at best. I had lost all but a faint faith for a while. I have faith now but I need help.
In the past I would see a grumpy old man and wonder “What is his problem?”. Not actually questioning but the rhetorical concept of “He needs to get over himself!”. Now I wonder what problems he had and how can I ease his pain a moment. Maybe he misses his lively self. I miss who I was. When you grieve the loss of a child you change. I have lost three children and I can reflect back and see the changes in who I became after each one. Each time I changed a little more. After the first I immersed myself in work and threw off some exuberance. I now realize I postponed much of the immediate grief over the first and am now paying for it. After the second I lost so much faith, bubbliness, and much of my extroverted self. After the third, my spirit crushed under the weight. I will never return to a life without anxieties. Studies have proven the brain chemistry changes during extreme grief. Ever a stranger, I am learning who I am and how to survive.