So what does that title even mean?
Last night I had the privilege of receiving some feedback from a reader about how positive I am. My Husband and I laughed and said boy, if only they really knew me, they’d know how much of a curmudgeon I really am. We laughed, but that whole exchange really got me to thinking.
I am super excited that someone considers me positive and that I handle being sick well, but I thought it very important to talk about not being positive and not handling things well. Because how can anyone really handle always feeling awful well? The truth is, I don’t. Not always.
I talk alot about the importance (to me) about living life gratefully, for counting all of my beautiful Blessings and maintaining hope, despite some really bleak days. These are all tremendously important to me, that is true. I have developed these as the foundation of my life in these last few years. And focusing on these things keeps me going. But, I want to make it clear, I’m not always strong, either.
I have endured some pretty arduous hurdles. I have lost a career I loved and a six figure salary. I almost lost my marriage to the love of my life. I have had some parenting moments that I am less than proud of. We nearly lost everything we owned. I have laid on the floor and screamed for hours when the pain was so bad I ran out of coping skills. I have lost too many friends and colleagues to count and cut ties with most of my family. I have lost hope and begged God to let me die before he forced me to face another day of pain. All of this is me, too and I have come to accept that all of this is okay.
Living this way is nothing I ever would have wished for. It is harder than any other challenge I’ve ever confronted. And some nights, I have to force my brain to stop thinking when I consider that I will be like this for the rest of my life. There is no cure. There is no help. There is no fix. For a long time, in the beginning, that was all I could think about: I will be this way until I die. Except, what good was any of that doing? None.
My “awakening” was hardly quick though, to realize that those lines of thinking were even more detrimental to me. For close to two years, I existed in a haze of anger, rage, hate, excruciating pain and self pity. I wish I could say that I will never get there again. I hope never to return to that purgatory, but I know that there are some things beyond my human control.
So I take every day as it comes and I try hard to no longer consider the future or those pervasive, but true, thoughts of never getting better again. I force all of that down and away by choosing to live with hope, gratitude and purpose.
Today, is a bad day. I’m still in pajamas at 5:00 pm and all I have accomplished is taking care of our animals. Nothing is curbing the pain, stiffness or electricity from coursing through my veins. Today, an accomplishment will be brushing my teeth and I’ve finally learned to be somewhat okay with that. I wish it weren’t this way. I wish I could get any of it to stop. I wish I were okay enough to walk my dogs. But since none of that is the case, I will defer to praying tomorrow is a better day.
What I want you to know is this: life with chronic illness never has a status quo. I’m never always positive and I try to no longer always be negative. Somehow learning to live with these diseases has taught me that flexibility and forgiveness are two of the most critical tools to have in our mental tool box. It’s okay to try to live positively. But it’s also okay to live in that place of mental anguish.
Do the best you can in the moment and be proud of that. Tomorrow is a new day.