How often do you sit back and contemplate which direction your life is heading? Is it on the course that you imagined or dreamed of? Most likely there are dreams of yours that have been ignored, set aside, or possibly some that you are still striving to achieve.
Today, a friend directed me to a powerful video message. It was extremely thought provoking and inspiring, similar to a few other motivational speeches and songs that I've listened to recently.
When times are difficult, it's so easy to sit back and try to "wait" it out or hide. But how often do we actually "FIGHT" for what we want, persevere with relentless drive for the dreams we envision, use our power of our mind to change our circumstances?
While listening to the video, I tried to look within my heart and soul. I'm not going to lie - I experienced a myriad of emotions. Part of me became sad because I honestly felt as if I was giving everything I had and more to make my dream of being an inspirational teacher come true. I pushed myself through sickness and pain, spent endless hours searching and planning for meaningful classroom lessons and experiences, laid my heart out to reach and connect with students that didn't see the potential that resided inside of them. I LOVED teaching with a PASSION - it was, without a doubt, a dream come true. A career that I enjoyed and that made me feel prideful. I honestly felt like I was making a positive impact on the lives of others, thought I was using the talents that I was blessed with to live a life full of purpose. I was sure that I was taking the path GOD intended me to follow.
When I became sick, I admittedly didn't listen to my body's personal needs. My body and my health, were not my priority. Teaching and being an active parent were much more important to me. I literally continued teaching, working, and staying on the go with my kids. While feeling worn down and sick I continued to stay busy with all of their school related and extracurricular activities as well as all the "motherly" duties I expected of myself. I even took classes online at night for a few years so I could earn my Master's and better provide for my family. Regardless of what my body was trying to tell me, I was strong minded, strong willed, and gave everything I had to live the life that I envisioned as a mother and teacher. I was determined to not let anyone or anything (including my own body) destroy my desire for teaching. I did not bother to consider or listen to the advice that my family kept expressing. Instead, I kept fighting and kept pursuing my dreams until my body ultimately crashed. I did not value my needs, because to me that felt as if it would be selfish, expressing weakness, and was just not a priority. In retrospect, and as an outsider looking in, I realize that to give my best, I need to be at my best. And that can only happen when I fulfill my personal needs, namely my health. Ignoring my health needs and symptoms will not make them disappear. I've tried that thinking over and over again and all it does is lead me to more issues. Unfortunately, some of that ideology came from medical "professionals" (such as doctors and nurses) that minimized my concerns and the impact it was having on my personal life, when I did finally reach the point to actually ask for help/assistance.
As I reminisce now, I'm not sure what to think. Could things have turned out differently if I'd taken different actions? Did I inadvertently cause self-destruction? Did I take my health and time with family for granted? Was I missing something? Even though I was living with purpose and drive for what I wanted in life, was there something else that GOD had in mind for me?
I don't know the answers to these questions. Have I made mistakes in my life that make me wonder what if? Sure, everyone does. Was life peachy clean? No, but I knew what I wanted to do and I did whatever it took to be successful as a mother and teacher. At least that's what I thought I was doing.
Now, look at me. Illness has overcome me. I don't want to be a "victim" but I also don't want to make my situation worse. I still have a difficult time listening to what my body needs, but attempt to make my health a higher priority. My dreams of making a difference in the classroom has ended - at least for now. My role as a mother has been altered. Activities, hobbies, and interests that I once enjoyed are not possible at this time. In the beginning, I was persistent that illness was not going to interfere with my personal life. Wow! That was a joke - the harder I fought for normalcy the worse my health declined.
For the past 4 years, I have tried to determine what the right balance for my life is. How can I fight with mind, heart, and body to accomplish my dreams without causing more damage? How do I determine which dreams are worth pursuing and which are too costly or too far out of reach for my reality?
Life is not meant to be easy. We are meant to be great - not average, but you have to be willing to put forth the work and heart to make it a reality. But how? I understand that we grow during our most difficult battles. I'm aware that there is so much left for me to learn about life, but which aspects are the most essential to fulfill in my lifetime? So much time has already been wasted - so how do I make the most of what time I have left? Which dreams are worth pursuing? When one dream conflicts with another - what do you do? When giving 120% in one area requires me to compromise or give up on a different one because I can't envision a path that would effectively meet or surpass all of them, what then? How do I ensure that my choices are respecting my personal needs while servicing others to my full potential? I am aware that not all of my decisions can be easy, that the most difficult decisions are the riskiest yet also have the capability of being the most worthwhile.
God is the only one that can see the future, so sometimes we have to take a leap of faith - and that's fine- but when life and health is so fragile - how do you determine which choices will lead to the most desired results? When health is an issue, where do you draw the line between making healthy choices and taking the risk of chasing dreams?
(Just something to think about.)
Deep slow breaths, in through my nose, out through my lips.
In --- and ---- out...
In--- and ----out -
as I prepare myself for the dreaded but necessary trip to the grocery store. I look over the list of items that I need to purchase. Meal options for the next 7 days have been planned out in advance so we have everything we need for the upcoming week. Since I'm unsure of what each day holds, I've selected a variety of meals, the majority of which are simple enough that the kids can handle it without my help or with only verbal assistance. I've taken the time to rewrite and categorize the items on my list, so they are basically in the order that we will get to them as we shop.
This outing, like all of my other outings, are too much to handle on my own. My energy and stamina limited and unpredictable, changing in a moment's notice. This is an errand that Diamond , and sometimes Carmen, assist me with. We've learned by trial and error that grocery shopping first thing Friday or Saturday morning, 8-9ish, is the best on my body. It's not busy, in fact the store is basically empty of customers at this time.
As I ride along in the passenger seat of the car, I look out of the windows contemplating what I will choose to do today. Will I challenge my body and walk the store? Will I listen to my body and drive the motorized scooter? Will I decide to protect my physical needs or safeguard my mental perspective? In my mind I flip back and forth, back and forth, unsure of what's in my best interests.
Hmmmm!!! Which side is most essential for me today? I can easily ramble off the positives and negatives for each selection - some sensible, reasonable, and logical, others possibly insignificant, but all profound just the same.
Experience has shown me that when I'm stubborn and decide to walk, I regret the decision a few minutes later. Pride keeps me moving regardless of how weak or lightheaded I feel. I will continue to push forward and face the consequences at the present time and for the following days as well. Headaches, wrinkled fingers, blurry vision, unsteadiness, internal shivers, and fatigue are just a few symptoms that often present themselves. Luckily I have IV fluids awaiting me when I return home. (Another reason I have selected Fri or Sat to go to the grocery store.) My family often gets annoyed with me when I choose this option, 1) because of the visible signs they witness and 2) because of the time and struggle it takes to recover. I on the other hand feel pride for sticking it out and being more "normal" at least for an hour or so, but left feeling disappointed and irritated when I realize that nothing has changed, that my body isn't better, and the physical price I have to repay.
Utilizing the electric scooter for the time I'm at the grocery store is undoubtedly the wiser option to meet my physical needs. It makes my daughters worry less, it makes us all feel like I'm "safer" , it protects my limited energy and strength, and lessens the amount of time and degree of exhaustion that I will have to endure when I return home. BUT it requires me to face the fact that I'm sick! It's just another example of how I have lost my independence. It's a reminder that my body is weaker and more fragile than the elderly that are able to run circles around me. While riding the scooter makes me feel better physically, prevents the severity of symptoms that follow the outing, and decreases the amount of time that it actually takes to complete the grocery trip, it hurts my spirit. Emotionally, it makes me feel inadequate, makes me look lazy, makes me question my need, makes me consider what others are thinking and/or saying. I know that it shouldn't. I understand that the reason they have the scooters in the first place is for people that need to use them. I'm aware that others don't know what my body has been and continues to go through - just as I don't know their personal story or what they are actually thinking (if they even are) about me. I know that I can't control others' opinions and that what they think doesn't necessarily dictate the truth of the matter. BUT admitting that I need help once again, that my body can't handle something else once again, that tools and/or machines are required for me to function ONCE AGAIN is disheartening. What am I becoming?
As we approach our nearby Food Lion, my mind ponders about why I am so determined to go grocery shopping in the first place? What is my ultimate goal? I remind myself that I want to feel needed. I need to fulfill my desire to be a productive member of my family. Grocery shopping gives me a pertinent reason to get out of the house and helps me feel more successful as a mother. If I actually go shopping, I can ensure that my family has something at least semi-healthy to eat during the week. Why do I elect to choose the dreaded grocery shopping as my weekly "chore" anyway? Isn't there something else that I could do to satisfy my thirst for a "normal" life? Something that I might even enjoy or that may be less draining on my body. If so, I have no idea of what that could possibly be. Grocery shopping is necessary and can not be avoided or postponed but for so long. I reassure myself that it is "normal" to do things that you dislike or hate to meet the needs of those you care the most about. It's "normal" for mothers to make compromises for their children.
Apprehensively, I trudge toward the storefront's door.
What will my fate be today?
Closing my eyes I stop to take a breath and slowly breathe..
in ------ and ----- out
in ------ and ----- out
If only for a slight moment,
I finally feel like a "normal" mom,
completing a "normal" task,
with a "normal" annoyance....
Gradually I reopen my eyes to my reality and the choices I have before me.
Which part of me will be victorious today?
Will I successfully accept my body's physical needs, listen to my family's concerned pleas, and ultimately ignore all of my self-doubts and fears? Or, will I stubbornly tread through the seemingly endless grocery store aisles in an effort to demand some independence for myself?
The decision may appear trivial or petty to many, but when your life has been turned upside down from illness, when everything seems to be spiraling out of your control, it's only natural to grasp on to whatever control you can have, no matter how small or minuscule the issue or task may be.
Desperately needing a vacation from myself
I have no more patience to spare
I'm losing sight of who I am
Pain, Sickness, Emotions becoming too much to bear.
A haze quickly descends to surround me
The cold harsh reality stings.
Settling fog makes it harder and harder to see
While sickness and doubts effortlessly cling.
Confusion trickles down my spine
as I search for my reprieve.
Nausea and pain overcome me
Tears, visible and hidden, shed as I grieve.
My body holds me prisoner
Chains and shackles holding me back.
Enclosed by walls of burden
Praying my stability doesn't completely crack.
I try not to be resentful
I attempt to handle it in stride.
I know that God's right beside me
Willing and ready to be my guide.
He has His purpose, that I know
And believe it with all of my heart.
He never promised it would be easy
But I never imagined that it would be this hard.
Today I am writing as the green candle burns in memory of 3, possibly 4, deaths in our GP community yesterday. The candle represents our sadness as we say goodbye, but also a reminder that their memory will remain always. I choose not to post every death in our group as it's just become too many, too soon, too young, and too sad. However, if it's someone that I was more familiar with either because of advocating or had become "friends" on FB, I share because it's more personal.
Each death I hear of, whether close or just an acquaintance, stings as it reminds me that no one is guaranteed tomorrow and it's a reminder of how many "friends" I have already lost. As a result, I have not been participating much in the support groups anymore. I visit the support groups less frequently. I admit, they are a great place to visit when you have an issue and you need to vent to someone that TRULY UNDERSTANDS what you're dealing with. They are also an excellent place to visit if you want to feel useful and actually help other people that are experiencing similar health journeys. Great friendships can be created because you're able to relate to so well. However, reading about others' struggles, feeling their pain along with your own, and wirtnessing so many that are literally starving or dying is sad and extremely difficult. You don't want others or yourself to feel isolated and alone, at least that is the case for me. At the same time, you don't want to become depressed, saddened, and possibly even sicker by seeing and hearing the same horrible news everyday either. It's scary to watch friends come and go (literally because of death).
So what are you to do? What am I to do? Currently, I have decreased the time that I am in the support groups. In addition, I very rarely accept friend request from other GPers. It's not that I don't want to know them better or on a more personal level, that actually feels great. Instead I choose not to in order to help protect my own heart and emotions. I am so very thankful and have been blessed by discovering some phenomenal friends to help me along the way. These friends I will always treasure. These friendships I will never give up. But I'm definitely more reserved and cautious when forming new connections. Regardless of who dies in our community, it hurts. But being a name that I've seen around is not as painful as reading the name of someone that I had closer personal ties with, a friendship with. I've admittedly been distancing myself from others as I don't want to face losing more friends to this awful disease and complications that comes with it. I've lost too many new friends that I was close to all ready and don't want to face even more. Which is sad because there are some amazing people in the world that I would really like to form closer friendships with. But at this time I have to deny myself the joy of building new friendships with fellow GP warriors to prevent the pain of losing more friends and creating more heartbreak.
Which brings me to the question of what do I do when my "friends" on FB pass away? To begin with, I "unfriended" some of them after they died - but that felt wrong and disrespectful. Therefore, for now I just let them stay on my "friend" list. Which is okay, but odd at the same time. Especially when past posts and their birthday reminders reappear.
A proud mother, educator, Gastroparesis & GI Motility Disorder Advocate,
Like my content? Want to thank me with a small token of appreciation? https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1LH7R639ORBML?ref_=wl_share
More Blog Entries