It’s Thanksgiving today. Last night, I finally picked up a pen and started journaling again, for the first time in about a year.
I felt a great calm wash over me a couple days ago, and I’ve decided to write about it. I’m at peace, finally, with one of the most frustrating periods of my life.
In the past few months, I’ve encountered some major obstacles. In March, my cousin, who was more like an older sister to me when we were kids, died of a drug overdose. And then six months later, her mother (my aunt), died from a heart attack.
I’ve been out of work since August, suffering from several different health issues. I was born with a mild form of Cerebral Palsy, and although I’ve been considerably lucky compared to the majority of those afflicted with CP, my condition has gotten worse. On top of that, doctors discovered a chronic B-12 deficiency, sleep apnea, as well as active Lyme disease in my system. I am in the preliminary stages of counseling for chronic depression related to my CP, as well.
All this was triggered after I went to the doctor because I was feeling extreme fatigue and exhaustion, and sleeping much more than usual. So although I’m frustrated dealing with all these health issues and being unable to work, on top of the list of things I’m thankful for today is trusting my gut and going to the doctor. I felt like something was just a little off with my health, so I went. Now, I’m being cared for appropriately.
Speaking of frustration, let me get back to why I’m feeling at peace, finally. All this time while I’ve been going through these health struggles, I’ve been fighting against them. Trying to maintain status quo as much as I can. That’s something I’ve always done with my CP, so it was my natural reaction here, as well.
Rather than allowing myself and my body to adjust to my current realities, I tried to go on pretending. Instead of adapting, I’ve been acting as though if I just add a little more effort…if I just ignore what my body is screaming at me every day, I can stay productive.
Now on the one hand, this could be seen as a positive. I’m trying not to wallow in self-pity and blame my circumstances. I don’t want to be stagnant, to sit around long enough that barnacles start hanging off my ass. The depression and the “down days” are difficult enough without adding poor health to the equation.
All this to say, I’ve realized the error of my ways. I’ve been too hard on myself.
I need to take time to grieve the loss of my loved ones, and I need to take time for my body to heal where it can, and adjust and adapt where it’s no longer possible. Instead of putting pressure on myself to become a productive member of society again as quickly as possible, I need to slow down.
In the run up to the new year, when everyone is busy making the cliche resolutions and trying to become someone new at the turn of the calendar, I’m focused on making positive choices. I want to build small, sustainable habits that are necessary for me to live every day. And as I get a handle on those, I can parlay that into larger, life-affirming, legacy goals.
Right now, I’m going to try taking each choice seven days at a time. If I can do something successfully, without much effort, for 1 full week, I’ll celebrate a victory. I’ll consider it a genuine success, and add something else to it.
So for the first week, all I want to do is take my daily B-12 supplement, prescribed by my doctor, every day for a week. Beyond that, anything productive that gets done in a day will be seen as a bonus. It seems silly to some people, I’m sure, but I think it will work for me.
Be Thankful Today
Now don’t get my wrong; I have plenty to be thankful for. My two beautiful daughters are healthy and loving life. I have a wonderful family and a fantastic group of friends around me (something which is very easy to forget during my dark times, which is one reason I’m putting it here). As much as things have changed with my health, things could be much worse.
I’m still here, and still wanting to improve the world around me. I still have goals and dreams. I still have my curiosity, my imagination and my creativity. I still have belief in myself (most of the time) that I can make a difference in the lives of my loved ones and my community.
On my best days, I still believe that I can start a movement and an organization which change the world.
So although I’m guilty of retreating into the darkness quite often, these realizations and this level of expression will help. Things have shifted. I can feel it.
“Oh, this is the start of something good. Don’t you agree?”
Today’s message, to you and to me:
Be thankful. Take baby steps.
(Oh, and follow the doctor’s orders…)