Who Am I

 

Yesterday I finally succumbed to the mounting pain in my locked-up shoulder and stiff neck, and actually kept my physical therapy appointment. I grumbled for days beforehand, and all the way there, that it was keeping me from having a full and productive workday. Over the last year and a half, I’ve found myself using Covid as an excuse to completely embrace my tendency to cocoon within the walls of my cozy home. There are weeks I don’t even leave the house, depending on my Ben to do the grocery shopping and pick up prescriptions, or go to Petsmart for dog needs. When I do go somewhere, I’ve allowed myself to get so immobile, that the smallest excursion exhausts me.

However, I’m glad that I went to the appointment because despite the pain, I truly enjoyed talking to my physical therapist. Though I was only there for my neck and shoulder, she soon realized and exclaimed over how stiff and sore my entire body is. She said she was shocked because when she saw me come in, she thought she was getting a semi-young and healthy patient. Obviously, the mask helps hide my true age, and because I’m on the tall and sort-of-slender side and was dressed in yoga pants and sneakers, my appearance can be deceiving.

The clinic was amazingly high-tech, spotless, and so busy! I saw at least a dozen employees in their sharp black shirts and khaki pants, most of them fairly young men with big muscles and a confidant swagger. I told Ann, my therapist, that I was relieved I didn’t get one of the young, hot guys because they make me awkward. She threw her head back and laughed, then assured me they were only assistants, and didn’t do first visits/evaluations and set up the patient’s plans.

As she walked me through multiple strength tests that I failed at miserably (I have the hand/arm strength of a much older human) we talked. Her two sons have settled far from her and we discussed how strange it feels to have your children out of your immediate range, almost like you’re constantly missing something important that you usually have on you at all times, but can’t put your finger on it.

She asked about who I am, and I felt it was a much deeper question than the three words imply, and I hesitated.

I wondered, which me should I tell her about? The me that was born in the Midwest but lived in more than two dozen different homes from coast to coast before I landed in the South? Or the me that survived a marriage full of strife and abuse, but then found my soul mate and began a journey to a happily ever after? I considered regaling her with the tales of our move to China and the work I did there in the orphanage, with children in situations most can’t even dream up. But that always leads me to deep melancholy that I’m not always in a strong enough place to go to.

I thought about describing to her how I started out with no extended education and after I got my first office job, I rose through the ranks of Human Resources in different companies, finally becoming an executive assistant to the president of the company. There are a lot of stories within those jobs because office politics and big egos were the main ingredient of many of my places of employment, with the stress of them leading me to the beginning of a lot of my medical problems. No one wants to hear that stuff, but it was a big part of my life.

Or would it impress her that I’m a novelist who has written two dozen novels, sold more than a million books, and has built a solid reader base? I usually ease into that gently, if at all.

If I expounded on my work in dog rescue, would she see me as a different sort of patient or would she consider me a bit on the crazy side? I could tell her about my two adult daughters, my bonus son, and our eight combined grandchildren.  Would I describe how they see me or how I see myself? There’s a lot of pain and growth from the mom I was, to the grandmother I strive to be, and I assure you that it’s a learning process that I still haven’t mastered.

I know that I’m a daughter who doesn’t live up to her own expectations, a sister who wishes she and her siblings were closer, a wife who doesn’t do enough for the husband she probably doesn’t deserve, and a dog mom to three doggos who think I’m the best human in the world. I’m a woman who wants to be fit and do yoga, and eat healthy, but usually fails in all of that. I’m the writer who wants to create work that resonates with others and will be a legacy to those who come after me and wonder who I am. I’m a workaholic who holds herself to too high of a standard and doesn’t relent. I am someone who can sometimes dip into depression but other days is the counsel to others who have it much worse than she. I’m a mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, dog mom, novelist and advocate for the less fortunate.

I am all of the above.

The conclusion is that we are not one single person or role in our life and each and every part we play creates a different version of who we are. I can be a wonderful child advocate and productive dog rescuer, and also be a mother who struggles to be there when needed, but not in an overwhelming, helicopter way. I can be the successful novelist with a wide platform and yet be the woman who doesn’t want to leave her house and feels guilty when she doesn’t plan her day well enough to cook a meal for her husband. I can be, and am, all those things. Each day I try to balance all of them to be able to live a good and productive life, and I strive to learn from all my life’s lessons.

Between you and I, though…. some days I wish I was simply a hummingbird—one creature with one role, flitting around looking beautiful and bringing joy in it’s endeavor to simply survive.

16 Comments

  1. Diane Mayo on April 23, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Love this, all of the above is you💗

    • Kay Bratt on April 24, 2021 at 10:27 am

      Same back at you, Diane!

  2. Carolyn Greer on April 23, 2021 at 11:45 am

    I think you probably succeed much more than you realize in most of the areas you talked about, but I KNOW that you are a rousing success at creating work that resonates with others and will certainly leave a wonderful legacy.
    I love your “realness”!

    • Kay Bratt on April 24, 2021 at 10:24 am

      Thank you so much, Carolyn!

  3. Charlotte N on April 23, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    What a wonderful part of sharing Kay you put it all in a way that you want to read more! You’re so good at it and ut certainly leaves me with a lot of reflections about my own life.
    I too find myself having struggling moments and a complicated family life.
    Life is complexe and sometimes we simply need to have a friend…
    I Love what you write and you are a wonderful person! Try and relax from time to time! 🙂 We are allowed to have our moments. I hope that you will feel better soon, having a lot of pain is not easy. Xx Charlie

    • Kay Bratt on April 24, 2021 at 10:25 am

      Thank you, Charlie. Yes, isn’t life and family so full of complications? Thank you for being a part of my circle!

  4. Pat Arnold on April 23, 2021 at 4:19 pm

    You’re right. There are many facets to everyones life whether we realize it or not.
    I love reading about your life. It’s so colorful, sometimes sad but mostly happy. You have a wonderful partner that loves you so much.
    Just need to get you feeling good and not in so much pain.

    • Kay Bratt on April 24, 2021 at 10:26 am

      Yes, I Do have such a wonderful partner. Even when he’s leaving the cap off the toothpaste, leaving coffee grounds on the counter, and grumbling about life… he’s still the best. I’m so blessed.

  5. Barbara on April 24, 2021 at 1:18 am

    I value your insight. Many times wearing multiple “hats” can be tiring; you make doing so look flawless. We both know that’s not realistic.
    I love that you have Ben, your kids and the grandkids. Plus your fur babies. I think having those people in your life helps to give you purpose.

    I’m glad we met. I hope to someday meet in person. ILY

    • Kay Bratt on April 24, 2021 at 10:26 am

      I’m so glad we met, too, Barbara!

  6. Shala Gudino on April 24, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    You open up a whole plethora of times in my life. I never think I am good enough. Be it a wife (past tense), mother, sibling or friend. After reading your article, I put my iPad down and spent an hour looking back on my life. My oldest daughter is a psychologist. She constantly tells me what an amazing life I have lived and what a great roll model have been to her and her sister. Me? All I can think of are the mistakes I have made. What I could have done better. So you see, we are all flawed in some way. Your exemplary life is one I look up to. I have followed you since your first book. You are an amazing person even with your small flaws. We all have them in one way or another. So remember Kay, you are unique and special. Look up to the heavens and thank our creator for who you are. I certainly am glad you are here! 🥰❤️

  7. Heather Crawford on April 24, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    Your writing always pulls me in and makes me never want to stop reading! We are all made up of many things and I could never articulate it the way you have just done. I’m so happy I was blessed to meet you at the tail end of your Human Resources career. I probably would have never found your books which turned me back into the avid reader I was in my younger days.

  8. Tara on April 25, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    I love this!

  9. Nancy Cantelmo Hendley on April 25, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    You are an amazing woman and keep on writing . Reading is my “drug of choice “ and it certainly helps me cope with everything going on in this world and my family. We picked a wonderful spot to live – The Upstate!

    • Kay Bratt on June 1, 2021 at 7:21 pm

      Hello Nancy. So very nice of you to want to help. Most of my past contacts there are gone but I can recommend working with Amy at Love Without Boundaries. Best wishes, Kay.

  10. Linda Auld on May 16, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    I just read “Silent Tears” and have been so caught up in your experiences in China. Can you give out information on whom to contact to possibly make donations ? I am a great-grandmother & my kids mean the world to me. If I can help these precious children find some joy or comfort in their lives, it would mean so much.

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