So, I’ve spent the past week considering where I am in my “chess match.” Initially, I said that if I am more than just a bystander then I must be the board itself. I stand by that answer, for now at least. I have a feeling, after contemplating the scenario, that my answer should probably be that I’m the one moving the pieces. The actual player. I know for sure that I’m not the pieces themselves, instead they represent my positive and negative thoughts/beliefs. I understand why I SHOULD label myself as the manipulator, mover, player, etc - but don’t feel as if I have that strength, power, or control at this time. Instead, I feel as if I’m the board - just trying to contain all the pieces, keep them as steady as possible, and provide them options to change/move as needed. I don’t know if there is a “fancy” briefcase style board that not only provides the playing surface, but also a safe location to store the pieces, but that’s the style I’m envisioning. Offering me the capability of “carrying” everything with me, wherever I choose to go. Not going to lie, I would LOVE to hide the entire briefcase or simply discard it at times. I would even love to remove many of the pieces - almost wishing it was like checkers, where I could simply jump over the obstacles and then remove them - especially the dark troubling ones. I understand that life takes much more patience and strategy than any board game, that there’s not always a clear cut winner (as in games), and definitely much more difficult as you can’t just start over when you get tired or want to “replay” for different results.
Keeping this in mind, I tried NOT to focus on metacognition the past 2 weeks. I haven’t been completely ignoring my thoughts, but not “searching” for them either. Instead I have tried to allow my thoughts/fears to appear naturally on their own and decide then how I wanted to respond and/or handle them - trying my best not to second guess myself; just to do the best I knew how at the moment. I have tried to ignore symptoms (and my health in some regards), persevere ahead, and admittedly have even been stubborn to achieve my valued goals - which unfortunately simultaneously caused me more pain and misery physically. I have been trying to survive on fumes which has really caught up to me, as my nutritional intake has been non-existent for the most part, thanks to it creating too much additional pain and nausea. Sometimes, I can’t help but feel like a failure when my body completely decides to revolt. (Such as the severe pain and exhaustion I faced after my nephews birthday party this past Sat, even though I CONSUMED NOTHING and JUST SAT there watching the kids play. It’s so frustrating!!) It seems the more I try to do, no matter how much I emotionally enjoy what I’m doing, the worse my body fights me. I give ALL my energy, including my reserves, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. I can’t help but wonder at times if it’s even worth it. I know the answer is yes, at least in the long run. It’s just Guilt, even when I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, isn’t easy to avoid. Infact, it’s nearly impossible. But I keep going, I have to and I choose to, for my kids and family. And yes, for myself as well.
During the past couple of weeks, I came to the realization (maybe because of the recent dr appointments) that I do actually have fears and apprehension about the upcoming surgery, that I am worried about choosing the best option for me, and that I am also concerned about how it will impact my future. I honestly feel at peace about having the actual surgery, I just don’t know what to expect afterwards. Having a wonderful trustworthy medical team that consist of compassionate doctors that truly seem to care and listen, helps reassure me greatly and helps me feel more comfortable with the decisions for sure. Talking with other patients and a loving family helps as well. I hold high hopes that the surgery will help me find some much needed relief, but I also know that it will not “fix” everything. Realistically, I feel that after the recovery period of the surgery, I will have less pain, less bloating, less nausea, more nutrition, more energy, and more “life.” I will most likely still have issues with my upper digestive system, but hopefully I will have less symptoms and more strength so I can return to activities I miss, including practicing softball & basketball with the kids, swimming, camping, and even teaching. I’m not going to lie, I am worried about the recovery period- but praying the “No Pain, No Gain” motto will hold true in this scenario. I expect that it will take a few months for me to truly heal (emotionally and/or physically) and am aware that I will need to be patient with myself. I’m also aware that there will be lifestyle changes and the possibility of self conscious issues. Now that I know my surgery will include an ileostomy, I am trying to focus on the pros for it when compared to the resection, and not allow myself to worry about the cons as they may or may not even be an issue for me. Staying positive is the key. I can’t bring myself to share all of my fears with my family. I have tried talking a little to my husband and mom about my feelings about the surgery, but find it a bit difficult. I just need them to be strong for me and to help me remain hopeful and focused on the end result. If I share my fears, I’m afraid that they will begin second guessing me - causing more confusion. I need them to stay positive, not worry about the risks involved, not to consider the what if’s, and definitely not to set me on the path of what if thinking. At the same time, I am scared to be too positive around them - as I don’t want to disappoint them if my other symptoms continue, which is what happened with the gall bladder surgery. As much as that surgery helped - that horrible intense pain removed - my family was disappointed because it didn’t “cure” everything. They had prepared their minds that it would “fix” me, that I would be able to return to teaching and possibly return to eating some. (Like them, I had planned on being able to teach afterwards, but unlike them I already expected that my eating capabilities would most likely not change.) Their pain and disappointment, my letting them down, is what accompanied me during my misguided path of depression last January. I can’t let that happen again. My goal is to determine how to be cautiously optimistic while also staying grounded to reality. Attempting to figure out how to prepare my family so they can think positive, but not set unrealistic goals and/or expectations. My current thinking (for this situation, not life itself) is that it’s better to be pleasantly surprised by surpassing what’s expected, than to be defeated from dreaming too big.
Now for this week’s question…. What is my vision of my “Middle Ground”?
I see my “Middle ground” as being a place that is stable. Where the land is mostly flat, with a few rolling hills and valleys, but high enough where floods are not an issue. A safe place where I don’t have to fear drowning in fears or pain. A place full of laughter, fun, and happiness with my family. A place where I am actively living, participating in the moments, and able to receive nutrition without horrible pain or consequences. The “middle ground” would allow me to recognize when I need rest breaks and take them before reaching completely exhaustion. I would be balanced, not at the extremes, with guilt as a distant memory. I would be able to hold on tight to my values without sacrificing my own well being, while also taking care of myself without seclusion or withdrawal. On the “middle ground” I would feel surrounded by comfort and care while also being able to successfully provide others with the attention and love that they deserve. I would spend much less time curled up in pain, discomfort, nausea, and fatigue. Additionally, I would be able to “play chess” and create strategy plans, but not let the pieces and/or results overwhelm me. If one strategy failed, or if the “dark side” started gaining control - I would be able to stay calm and collective while revising my “positive” plan of action. If I was residing at the “middle ground” I would be able to successfully manipulate and rearrange my “chess pieces” to meet all of my physical, emotional, and mental needs.
Goals for upcoming weeks -
-Enjoy the holidays with my family. Find time to treasure memorable moments, even if I don’t physically feel up to it.
-Mentally and physically prepare myself for surgery as best I can, including continued attempts to improve my hydration and nutrition.