Sunday, May 27, 2018

5/28/18—Letting Go Of Sickness

My brother made a suggestion a couple of weeks ago that made a bigger impression on me than he imagined, I think. 

For years, I've had my medicines sitting on my coffee table, right in front of the sofa. Sometimes there would be many months worth of inhalers piled up. They were convenient there. And as my condition got worse and worse and I spent more time on the sofa, I valued the convenience. 

In one sense, they were so "normal" there for me that I didn't see them. In another sense, I couldn't help but see them as they reminded me many times per day not to forget to take my pills.

So, a couple of weeks ago, my brother suggests I move them someplace where they wouldn't remind me I was sick all the time. It made sense. I found a box to fit them in and now I only see them once a week when I fill my pill box. 

But it got me was time to stop being sick all the time, too. It was time to pick my life back up and stand on my own again. It was time to stop playing the "surgery" card. 

On one hand, it seems silly to say, because I do still have aches and limitations and I have a three-month rehab coming up. It's still early. I could elicit sympathy for at least another few months. And I do have legitimate complaints. 

But on the other hand, I'm not sick anymore. I suppose anything can happen...I could go into afib again or my new valve could somehow fail. Any one of us could face an unforeseen malady. But the fact is, I had a bad body part and it was the culprit that dogged me for years. And now the source of that issue is gone. And, while still recovering (who knew coughing and sneezing could hurt so much?) I'm better than I have been for a long time. I can't walk as far yet, for example, but I can get around a grocery store easier than I have been able to for years, actually...and without sweating profusely and turning red to the point of humiliation while I'm at it. 

I'm not sick anymore. I'm recovering, and well along my path in that regard. It's time to start living like a normal human being again. 

For years, I wore the "mysterious, debilitating illness" label. I really had no choice because it was so prominent in my life. But it gave me many excuses—remaining stagnant and becoming more reclusive among them. And as much as I hate to say it, I got to be a victim, too. Even when life sucks, there are payoffs...excuses, attention, victimhood...glum indulgences. "How can I possibly move forward when my energy is still low and my incision isn't fully healed?" I could hold on to that excuse a bit longer. Its sell-by date isn't yet expired. But what am I waiting for? WHY am I waiting?

It's really no different from someone facing an empty nest, a career change, a child, a marriage, a divorce—there are times in your life when you have to stop being one thing and choose to become another. If you hang on to the old thing, life will eventually start to crumble around you. There's a card in the tarot—The Tower—that depicts the inevitable destruction of some aspect of your life. We can move alongside change or it can come crashing down upon us. But make no mistake: change will always win in the end.

Normally, I'm not beyond hanging on for dear life until I HAVE to change. But I no longer want to wear the cloak of darkness I've been wearing, no matter how it might benefit me and keep me from the discomfort of change. I'm starting to shed it, whether it's ready to shed me or not.  

So that's what happens when you suggest I move my medications...haha. It wasn't just staring at the medications that was keeping me in the "sick mindset". And even though I think I can milk it a little longer, I longed for this day for years. I feared this day would never come. And while I can forgive circumstance and medical oversight for delaying my wellness for so long, I don't think I could forgive myself for stretching it out any further than is necessary. There's a difference between being victimized and being a victim. 

We can choose to re-label ourselves at any time. If we don't like a personality trait, we can change it. If a label is untrue or has outlived its validity, we can re-label ourselves. If a life phased has passed, we can move on to the next adventure. We don't even have to slough the old way entirely. We can just de-emphasize one behavior and emphasize another. 

The timing, however, is key. Do it too early and you risk being ill prepared to greet your best future. Hesitate too long, and you just keep getting more and more miserable as life changes around you and threatens to leave you behind. The best path forward, it seems to me, is to be honest with yourself, accept your new role and greet it fearlessly. Easier said than done, I know. But also not as hard as you'd think.