the watch

My husband bought me an Apple Watch for my birthday back in December.  We had to order it, because they didn’t have the size/color I wanted, so I finally received it a few days before the new year.  Apple products have some of the best packaging, and I remember distinctly watching its delivery status online (I had to be home to sign for it) and when it arrived, carrying it like precious jewels or paper-thin crystal up the stairs to my kitchen to unwrap it at the island.  Every moment was breath-taking.  It was so beautiful.

I was so insanely in love with it within minutes that I promptly told my husband (who had a watch he very much-loved) that he needed to get an Apple Watch immediately.  And so, despite some grumbling, he did.

And we have both been addicted since this year began.  I have missed only two days of completing my circles (Move, Exercise and Stand) ~ the first was a sync problem when I got a new phone (February 25th) and the second was this past Sunday, when I was certain that my fatigue was going to overrun my life.  I am sad about both days (I am very competitive) but what is even more important is how much the watch has changed our lives.

Hubs, who was a college athlete but hated working out, has begun riding a stationary bike every day in our garage (we do this together since we have 2 bikes …. see my previous post my bike is a very, very, very nice bike).  Sometimes we trail ride (although this is challenging on a number of fronts because of my absurd fatigue – thank you MS – and our inability make decisions in a timely fashion to avoid the heat).  I have found – in the six months of having my watch – that I’ve made more progress than I made all last year while riding the bike, probably because now the watch motivates me.  I can walk away from my phone when Lucy and I go for walks, because calls and texts (and email!) all pop up on my watch.  Hurrah!  This past Sunday I tried to leave my watch on the charger all day … but JUST.COULDN’T.DO.IT.  So I settled for closing my Stand rings and trying not to feel too sad about my Exercise and Move (since I’d made the decision to give my body a rest).

It is one of my favorite things.

In the four and half years I’ve had MS, I’ve learned so many things about keeping my disease under control.  It isn’t just about medicine, and it isn’t just about food and exercise.  It’s about all of that, and having faith in the decisions you are making, and waking up every day ready to give it your all once again.  The mornings are tough for me — my body usually hurts, and if I’m lucky I wasn’t up several times in the night to use the bathroom.  But once I’m vertical, it’s about making the best choices I can.  This watch has helped me do that, day after day, when I’m tired, when I’m sad, when I just don’t feel like it.

As John gears up to begin his new job next week by having drinks and dinner with some new co-workers, I’m at home, trying to find my direction.  And as silly as it sounds, my direction has begun to begin with my Watch.  Get up.  Move around.  Get sweaty.  I’ve learned that those things are invaluable to feeling better, feeling focused and motivated.

So, this is just a little love note to my Apple Watch, and also to my husband, for getting it for me in the first place.  He always seems to have an uncanny ability to get me things that fill my life up with happiness and joy.

 

 

staying true

I think, as we get older, we all start to feel infinitely more comfortable in our own skin.  We find strength in our decisions, who we have chosen to be as people, our values, our morals, our likes and dislikes.  It’s comforting.

It doesn’t mean that people don’t exist who try to shake our foundation, make us question the choices we’ve made.  Those people exist.  Maybe they are just completely convinced that there is no room in the world for an opinion that differs from their own, maybe they are utterly committed to their ‘rightness.’  Who knows.  I have no problem saying that sometimes, other people’s choices don’t make any sense to me.  But they don’t have to — it isn’t my life.  I feel as though some people never get to that conclusion.

But what is so sweet, so justifying, is a moment in life when the things you’ve been quietly questioning are re-affirmed, and you know (once again) that you believed the things that were important to you, that you had faith in the things that rang true to your conscience.

Hubs and I spent last weekend in New York City.  We had tickets to see ‘Hamilton’ and no other plans than to just enjoy being in NYC together for a little bit.  We had drinks at Rockefeller Center, we had dinner with actor friends of mine from college.  We ate awesome sushi at a hole in the wall restaurant right near the theatre district.  We saw ‘Hamilton.’  It was magical.  And it reminded me of parts of myself that I’d forgotten.  It reminded me of the love I had for so long for theatre.  That I still have.  It reminded me that no matter how beaten down I’d gotten over the past seven years, what always pulled me through was the doggedness I had in regards to what I believed.  Was I insecure?  Oh yes.  Did I over think pretty much everything?  Absolutely.  But was I always true to myself?  Yes.  I might not be proud of many things about myself — I might get frustrated, and beat myself down sometimes.  But my family –my parents, my grandmother, my brother, my aunts and uncles — they helped me form a rock solid foundation of who I am.  And I am so grateful for that.  It certainly doesn’t mean I won’t worry about things in the future.  Wonder if I’m making the right choices.  But I know that I am true to myself, in the end.  That’s how I sleep at night.  That’s how I get through the tough times and the challenges.

I believe in honestly.  I believe in loving people and treating them with dignity and respect.  When I find that I have trouble doing those things, I try to figure out why.  I believe in finding the positive.  Finding the hope, finding the happiness.  Through disease, surgeries, crisis and woe.  As my favorite acting teacher said in one of my first college acting classes, Por Los Buenos.  For the good.  We are all motivated by what we believe is ‘the good.’   (Although I do think that some people are super pre-occupied with ‘who has it worse and let me tell you why/how’).

And one more thing. Time. Time is the great healer and revealer.  With time, the truth comes.  You just have to have faith, and believe.

losing faith

I had an interesting conversation recently.  In it, the idea was posed that some people ‘push through’ and others give up.  I was taken aback by the statement, confused by its context and intent.  But after thinking about it — far too much, I might add — I realized this.

Sometimes it’s about whether you believe, or you have lost faith.

It’s very hard to ‘push through’ when you don’t believe anymore.  And sometimes, when your faith has been pushed to its very limits, and you lose the thread of the narrative, it’s hard to care anymore.

Once upon a time, I was handed a business in a banker’s box.  And over the course of seven years, I learned many things the hard way.  The stress was, at times, unbearable.  But I was proud of what I helped to build, and that made it possible to keep going.  I believed in it fundamentally.  It made the hard times worth the pain, and the great times even sweeter.  But when I began to lose my faith, when I started to not recognize what I thought I’d been part of, it made it challenging to keep going.

It’s hard to walk away from something that used to mean so much.  But I also believe that you have to take care of yourself.  And the best of life has yet to come — the best things are in the future, they are just around the next bend in the road.  It took me a minute to get my brain around my new reality.  I had to forgive myself, and also commend myself for making the best choice for my future.  Life isn’t easy.  But it can be so beautiful if you let it.

 

And ps.  Hubs and I are seeing ‘Hamilton’ in two days.  I cannot wait!

rise up

John and I arrived as dusk was settling in on Sunday.  First, we checked me into the Family Lodge and then headed to the hospital proper to get him registered and into his room.  I’m starting to learn NIH.  It’s somewhat strange and surreal.

Despite telling us multiple times she would not be here, as we rounded the corner of admissions, John’s mother sat in a chair, surrounded by multiple bags of ‘stuff’ (her quilting, etc).  She smiled widely at John.  My heart bottomed out.

It has been a long few days, and yet this morning, as I rushed to get over to John’s room before the nurses arrived to take him down to surgery and worried about logistics of things that -in the end- won’t matter and I will not remember, I worried about her, sitting two floors below in John’s father’s room, fretting about her husband and her son.

John’s mother and I are like oil and water.  We have never understood each other, and that is unlikely to change over time. We come from different places, we see the world through different lenses.  Nine years in, It is about rubbing along as comfortably as possible since we have deep and unbridled love for the same man.  Her son.  My husband.

**

I’ve sat in this surgical waiting room twice before — first, for Alan’s surgery several years ago.  John and I were together then.  And then last December I sat here alone, as I do today, as John undergoes the same surgery he underwent last December.  It felt much less intimidating today, I understood what was happening better, the nurses were more friendly.  I am sending texts to John’s mother, as she sits with Alan upstairs in his room.

Healthcare is a bitch.  I mean, it’s great, wonderful — sometimes ground-breaking and life-changing.  But it’s exhausting.  Hallways upon hallways of neutral colors, stale air pumping through vents.  Dry erase boards covered in red or black ink.  People on cell phones, their minds pre-occupied with something else, somewhere else.

It is nearly impossible to stay upbeat, positive, optimistic.  Throw in an unexpected mother-in-law who already grates on your skin like nails on a chalkboard, and it feels like climbing Mount Everest every day. Sisyphus eternally pushing a boulder in Hades.  (Yes, I know my husband will not like this blog post).

The thing is, it’s a struggle.  It’s a struggle that I shoulder because I love my husband more than anything in the entire world.  Because, despite the challenges of life, of my disease, the insidious M.S. with its joys of fatigue and spotty vision and muscle spasms — there is nothing in my life without my husband.  His is my North Star.  And because of that, because of that infinite love, I try very hard to rise up every day.  To face the challenges presented by his disease, by his mother, by life.  I do not always succeed. And I am not always graceful.  Sometimes I falter, sometimes I crack and break.  Sometimes tears come, without warning, as frustration and fear grip my heart and lungs.  As I feel lost and alone, whipped around by unending winds of change and darkness.  But still.  The sun rises.  It sets.  Time marches on.

As humans, it’s all we can do.  Rise up for the people we love.

time rolls by

It’s funny that it’s already April 21st (a day which deserves recognition as the birthday of a monarch who has done more for a country but also for women’s equality, than anyone will soon do again).

Last weekend, we hosted Easter for the fourth or fifth time — both sets of parents, plus my dearest friend (I am not sure how I have been so lucky to have a friend like her) and her significant other.  I didn’t think it would feel so stressful, but it did.  And while I think the majority of people in attendance had a good time, it always weighs on you when you believe you failed someone.

On Sunday, we leave for NIH.

It sits on my heart and my lungs, it weighs on my arms and legs.  It stymies my mind.  We spent a week there sixteen months ago and John had major surgery.  And next Wednesday, he has it again.  For the same issue. The past few days his ear and jaw have ached, and the pain — perhaps somewhat psychosomatic — has extended down his arms, into his joints.  Surgery and anesthesia are overwhelmingly complicated.  They leave you feeling powerless and adrift.

I woke up at 5a this morning.  I had meds in the city and I knew the weather was promising to be brutal (it did not disappoint).  I worried about rush hour and wanted to get a head start.  The grayness of night still hung over the sky as I turned my seat heater on and set off on the drive.

Five hours later I was home.  I’d made it by the skin of my teeth (God bless the poor man operating the parking lot ticket machine — I don’t believe I was the epitome of patience and kindness) and then, post-meds, after grabbing a soy chai latte from Starbucks (no longer a regular part of my unemployed life) I set off home and enjoyed a much better drive.  Lucy was waiting, her Kong gripped in her mouth, her body twisting into strange contortions of what I can only believe was happiness.  I absent-mindedly patted her head.  I staggered upstairs.  My brain was full of fog, my limbs felt heavier than anything I’d ever lifted.  Such are meds days.

My husband has always been the example I strived to follow.  He lives life and no one knows that his body is ravaged by a disease the doctors cannot control.  I think of that, hold onto it, when I am feeling petulant and weak in my struggle with M.S.

Life is not easy.  It certainly is not fair.  My email contained a note from my mother – the status of her recent round of chemo and her health.  It wasn’t bad.  But it certainly wasn’t sunshine and roses.  Cancer sucks.  Full stop.  I think of that when I am feeling utterly sorry for myself and my monthly infusions and complications of medication.  When my eyesight dips in and out and I break a toe because I can’t fully feel my feet.  When I find phantom bruises — deep and dark, purple midnight blue — scattered across my limbs with no explanation.  When I can’t remember the day before because of the heat, the stress, the fatigue.

Lately I’ve put my tears on the shelf.  My husband, who has always been the strength and steadiness in our relationship, is faltering under the crushing pressure.  Maybe I shouldn’t have left my job, maybe I should have made different decisions.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.  What if.  I am consumed by the worries of how I will get through the next few weeks when all that should matter is him.

I drove to get sushi for dinner – our first since giving it up for Lent.  The sky was rain-washed, the sun a tangerine orange sinking gracefully in the sky.  The greens were green, the blues were blue. The air felt fresh and full of life.  The cows grazed lazily in the fields.  Jim Croce’s “I’ve Got a Name” filled my car as it popped up on my iPhone’s random play.

I smiled.  I sang along.  I held tightly to the idea of this moment, this snap shot of why we moved here, why I left my job … what our dreams were and what they remain.  I thought of how much we’d been through, how much we have left to face.  I thought of my husband, working out diligently in our garage after a long day of work.

Life is neither fair nor easy.  Life is a constant onslaught of things we believe we are incapable of overcoming.  And yet … we do.  We hold onto each other in the darkness, finding comfort in the people we love, the warm, strong touch of their hands.  We breath deeply.  We pray.  We believe.

the FDA

Today, the hubs and I journeyed into Philadelphia for my quarterly appointment with Dr. M. Since I’ve passed the two-year mark of being on Tysabri, they have to monitor my levels more closely, because I have the JC Virus. (Little bit of info: the drug Tysabri elevates your chance of getting PML -which can be a fatal brain infection- if you have levels of the JC virus.  Some people have JC, some don’t.  They aren’t really sure how people get it/don’t get it, but it doesn’t have any affect on you … unless of course, you have MS and want to take Tysabri, which was the strongest drug for MS on the market until Tuesday.  Anyway, in addition to checking the virus levels, organ function has to be tested and monitored, etc etc etc).

Essentially, it just means I get to have more scans and more bloodwork on a more regular basis.  Who could refuse that offer?!?

Last Tuesday, the FDA approved Ocrevus (I have to use the marketing name, because the actual drug name is very long and I can’t spell it properly).  Ocrevus is the first M.S. drug that has shown positive effects in progressive M.S. patients so for them, I am over the moon that it was approved. I have relapsing/remitting MS but mine was pretty aggressive when I was initially diagnosed.  Dr. M had suggested switching me over to it last year upon its approval by the FDA so John and I were interested in what he had to say today.

First, Dr. M was intimately involved in the clinical trials, so he’s pretty close to the effects of the drug as well as getting it approved.  Second, I am fairly certain that I drive Dr. M nuts.  In a good way.

The bottom line was, after talking for a while, Dr. M, John and I decided that for now, I am going to stay on Tysabri.  Listen folks, some of the possible side effects of Tysabri are pretty scary.  Dr. M prescribed it for me three times before I actually scheduled my first infusion.  He had to sit with me in an exam room for hours to convince me to try it.  And at the time, I could barely walk a city block without a cane.  My flares were coming regularly every four to six weeks.  In retrospect, I’m not totally sure why I hesitated.  But I can only really say that in retrospect.  Knowing now that I haven’t had the scary side affects.

I’ve said it once …  I’ve said it a million times.  M.S. is a tough effing disease.  It’s creepy and sneaky and a real bitch.  I hope that as data comes in about Ocrevus that it’s all good.  But I’m super glad that I’m staying on Tysabri for now.  It’s been my savior.  And yes, it’s scary.  But sometimes you have to walk through the fire to get to the good stuff on the other side.  That’s how I think about it.  That’s how I have to think about it.  If I fell into the what-ifs too much, I would drown myself.  Instead, I try to know as little about it as possible.  Here’s what I know ~ in the two years I’ve been on it, I have had a quality of life I thought was an impossibility.  I don’t have to travel with an assortment of needles anymore.  My disease is officially classified as ‘in remission.’  And I am so, so grateful.

mindset

When I started this blog (oh so long ago) my full intent was to have an amazing cooking blog.  I was a bit obsessed with them at the time, and also, I didn’t really cook.  As I’m sure I mentioned in my earlier posts, I worked in food service — so the need to feed myself was minimal.  I just ate at work.  I enjoyed those early blog days — finding recipes, and taking food photography (harder than it appears, by the way).  Now, it seems to funny to remember a time when I didn’t enjoy putting together a meal.

Then January 21st, 2013 rolled around.  And my whole world sort of — fell into chaos? This blog became a place I came to scream into the void (or at least, that’s how I thought of it).  Not really diary (I don’t share everything!) but also a little without a direction.  Whatever came into my head became what I wrote about.  It was comforting, and cathartic, while also being amorphous.

Then, this year, I entered unemployment.  I can’t call it retirement — I feel too young to qualify for that.  I should be working, theoretically.  But … and here’s where I get a little gun shy, because it’s admitting weakness, and I’m not a giant fan of that … I found in my retired unemployment that the things I thought were caused by my job (unending fatigue and ennui, cotton brain, a lack of focus) didn’t go away.  I chewed on this idea for weeks.  Maybe a few more days of rest?  Maybe … maybe ….

I turned to my husband with eyes full of tears and confessed that I thought it had to be the M.S.  With it articulated came the wave of paralyzing fear.  I am only 37 – in how many ways will this disease continue to eat away at my life?  He told me not to panic.  That we would get through it all together.  He said I didn’t have to go back to work until I felt ready.  (Which – inevitably – made me want to go back to work yesterday).

Multiple sclerosis is a funny disease.  It erodes your body from the inside, insidious in its invisibility.  But we aren’t alone – those of us dealing with our own unique and debilitating battles have a huge community that we can tap into if we choose.  I’ve surfed on some of the websites, I’ve read the conversation threads.  Sometimes they are comforting — hearing someone else articulate something you thought no one would ever understand.  A lot of times they are deflating.  Like a very long, unending war that we will inevitably lose.

I’ve realized over the past four plus years, that my best, strongest and most reliable weapon in this fight is my mind.

Listen, the green smoothies are great.  And I love exercising.  It has deeply changed my quality of life.

But the Arkenstone of it all?  Thought.

Dealing with medicines and doctors and all the wildly “intoxicating” things that go hand in hand with having an incurable neurological condition is made infinitely easier if you think about it in the proper context.

I learned this from my husband.  A man who has gracefully handled his own cross — that of M.E.N. type 1 — since the tender age of fourteen.  He smiles and nods and contemplates.  He doesn’t panic.  He breaks things down to their simplest components and examines each one with a discerning eye. He finds — even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds — the shred of hope worth holding onto.

So in that spirit, I thought I’d give a little more shape to this blog.  I figured — there are a bunch of M.S. sufferers out there, and people who love them who can’t understand.  What if I write about the experience, and trying to see it through a filter of positive thought?

Because it’s easy to be glum and sad when afflicted with something no one can see.  It makes you want to yell at people — shake them.  Don’t you understand?  I have M.S.!

They don’t understand.  You look pretty normal to them.

But … but … But! I am grateful that I am still able to interact in a world without a wheelchair.  I had a cane for a about a year — her name was Lydia (because, as I’ve said a thousand times, I felt that 34 was too young and I couldn’t call her a cane).  It changes how people look at you, think of you.  Speak to you.  Yes, I am frustrated when people treat me as though nothing is wrong.  But then, after a deep breath, I am grateful that I am healthy enough at this point my disease, that people don’t know.

Yes, having M.S. is hard.  I have just as many bad moments as good moments.  But M.S. doesn’t mean the end.  It doesn’t mean that we are no longer capable of doing great things.  It just makes it a little bit harder for us.  And maybe … the accomplishment a little bit sweeter.

 

my bike is a very very very nice bike

This morning, I was feeling incredibly motivated.  So –despite the habit I’d fallen into the past few weeks– I jumped on my stationary bike before 9am.  I started my audible.com book (“The Cruel Sea” for anyone interested … not something you might first consider to be good bike-riding listening, but I’ve been enjoying it very much).  I settled in for a long ride.

But … Something was off.  I’d noticed it yesterday, but thought it was just my foot slipping on the pedal.  This morning, it was different.  Very rhythmic.  Very disruptive.  Around 30 minutes into my ride, I picked up my phone and messaged John.  I told him something was wrong — he’d need to look at the left pedal when he got home.  I was going to power through my ride.

Only, I wasn’t.

At 32 minutes, the pedal fell off.  I scrunched down, I looked at each piece — the fallen off pedal and the mechanism on the bike.  Things were wobbling.  I sent John a picture.  I told him I’d broken the bike.

He was wonderful.  He asked for more pictures.  He started googling new bikes.  Within three hours, we’d checked “Best of” lists and ordered a new stationary bike as well as a trainer to put our outdoor bikes on.  I maniacally checked the shipping info.

I have become so used to riding my bike every day, sweating out the sorrows, the woes, the frustrations, the sadness and the fears.  Working through problems.  That when the pedal fell off, I felt even more adrift than I had when I left my job.  I felt terrified.  How would I get through the seven days it would take for my new bike to arrive?  How would I survive?  More importantly, how would I sweat? 

I fretted about it all day.  While I took Lucy to the vet, went clothing shopping with John, waited for take-out burgers.  I tried to calm myself with the knowledge that help was on its way.  But it didn’t make me feel better.  Smaller bumps than this had disrupted better men.  How would I stay focused and motivated with a seven-day gap?  I didn’t trust myself.  I didn’t trust my resolve.  Thirteen months, and this could be the end.  I was despondent.

John and I got home.  We put on comfy clothes.  I spread out our food booty on a TV tray.   Burgers, and french fries and blue cheese dipping sauce with a small cup of root beer.  He said he was just going to check out the bike.  Minutes ticked by.  I paced.  I fretted more.  I  poured two glasses of wine and walked downstairs.

“Do you want the good news or the bad news?”  There was laughter under his words, but ironic laughter, disillusioned laugher.  Not funny laughter.

“It can be fixed? But not today?”  I guessed.

“Ha!”  This time he did laugh.  ”No.  It’s fixed.  But we just spent a ton of money replacing it.”

“It’s fixed?” My voice was filled with both delight and the underlying fear that he was lying.

“It’s fixed.”  He stood up, his hands on the console.  He spoke with finality.

My whole world lightened.  I smiled, stupidly, childishly.   I positively beamed.  He shook his head.

“I can ride it tomorrow?”

“I wish I’d looked at it tomorrow.  Because now I have to ride it tonight!” He words were heavy but lined with amusement.  He caught my expression.  ”You can ride it tomorrow.”

We climbed the stairs back to our living room and settled in for burgers and sitcoms.  We toasted our glasses, and I thanked him for fixing my bicycle.  He smiled sadly.

“I’ve counted on it for thirteen months,” I began, feeling guilty.

“I know. I’m glad it was an easy fix.”  He kissed my forehead and took my hand.  We curled into the couch.  ”I just don’t know where I’m going to put the second bike.”

creature comforts

On Wednesday my husband bought me three Caramello bars.

I adore Caramello bars.  I compulsively buy them every time I go to a Wawa (or heaven-forbid another gas station market). I cannot go to CVS without detouring to the candy aisle to check for them.  If I don’t eat them, I stash them in the freezer.  Y’know.  Just in case.

I was feeling a little blue on Wednesday.  It’s the middle of March, so it’s right on time.  But it gets me every year because I am convinced that it will be better.  It never is.

Tuesday’s ‘blizzard’ was so disappointing, and my day was so … far from what I’d imagined … that Wednesday felt like a hangover.  The ‘ice snow’ was piled inconveniently around the entire neighborhood, making a walk with Lucy like climbing Everest and moving my car basically a no-go  Not that I had an incredibly exciting destination.  I didn’t.  But a chai tea latte on a snow squall day can cheer up anyone.  And it wasn’t even an option.

Bad days are always peppered in with good days — regardless of my work status.  I think everyone — if they were being honest — could agree that not every day dawns full of sunshine and roses.  It’s really about how we choose to deal with the obstacles.

I’m getting better, but I’m not necessarily good.

Some of the things I’m non-negotiable about in order to get myself motivated ~

I always get up when John takes Lucy out for her morning walk.  No matter what, I make us smoothies.  I’m pretty Nazi-ish about green smoothies.  Sometimes all John wants on the weekend is a big breakfast, and instead I present him with a bright green smoothie, and multi-vitamins.  He’s a champ though, and drinks them every day.

I also made a commitment last March to ride my bike.  And now, I ride pretty much every day.  Even when I procrastinate until 4pm, I manage to slink down, climb on and ride.  And inevitably, I feel better.  All that talk about endorphins and exercise?  Yeah, it’s pretty true.  Exercise works like a charm every time to boost my spirits.

I’m also a little obsessive about my water intake.  I try really hard to drink about 90 ounces of water a day.  First, it’s not easy.  Second, you have to pee a.lot.  But again, it always ends up being worth it.  I feel better, I don’t stuff junk food in my face all day, and my skin looks amazing (haha!).

I think one of the most important things is recognizing when the blues are coming.  Sometimes I’m in them before I realize.  But because I am such a creature of habit, I’ve usually already had my green smoothie, drunk a ton of water, and either ridden the bike or had it planned.  Doing these things are a small help in keeping my life on an even keel.  Because it’s not just about the sadness, it’s also about the M.S.  The way it wreaks havoc with your life.  The way you are up one minute and down the next.

I’m really really hoping that the weather figures itself out and we progress slowly toward April and warmer temperatures.  I love the winter and the snow.  But Mother Nature sure has been ornery about it this year.  I’m ready to feel steady again.

 

 

 

snow daze

Twice this winter we have had dire forecasts that amounted to nothing.

Wildly disappointing.

I was looking forward to snow — mounds of snow, the air thick with snow — so much fluffy whiteness and quiet that it drowned out life for a moment.  I was massively let down.

I’ve been in an interesting mindset for the past few weeks.  Not quite sure where I’m going, not quite sure where I’ve come from.  When you spend a significant amount of time in any situation, you lose perspective.  You forget all the compromises you made along the way to get through the day.  Coming to terms with that can be both difficult and humbling. It can make you see yourself in a different light.

I spent many years of my life in abusive relationships.  I kept my head down.  I believed if I loved enough, if I gave enough, then any obstacle could be overcome.  I was wrong.

My husband is a great man.  A kind man, a thoughtful man, a caring man.  I walked through the fires of hell to get to him.  I don’t know what changed in the universe, what realigned karmically that allowed us to meet and make things work.  The timing was terrible.  I mean, it couldn’t have been worse.  We were painfully poor, I was unemployed.  Between us we had debt that could drown better men.  And somehow, we kept our heads down, we held onto each other and we — against all odds — became an unbreakable team.

We both did things along the way that broke us a little.  Things to pay the bills, things to get by.  We compromised our morals, we smiled in the face of ignorance and pettiness.  We held onto each other in the darkest moments, and then we held onto Lucy.  And we believed, unwaveringly, that we would get through to the other side.

A few years ago, after our backyard wedding and living in an 800 square foot apartment for six years, we somehow found ourselves on the other side.  We paid off debt.  We bought a house.  We bought silly cars.  We traveled to Italy, and then Iceland and then to Jackson Hole …. just because we could.

And after all of that, after all the struggle and the smiles and the massive compromises, I broke on the inside.  I lost my drive.  My direction.  I wondered what I was doing with my life.  Why I kept doing it.  I justified it all.  I came up with reasons.  They were good, too.  And they weren’t wrong.  I’d done what I’d done to get to where I stood.

But once I was there, once I had the things I’d worked so tirelessly for, I couldn’t imagine continuing.  I couldn’t imagine keeping up the smiles when I was so desperately, deeply unhappy.

So one would have thought that leaving that situation, walking away from all the burdens that had weighed on my shoulders for years — would make me feel infinitely better.  Strangely and sadly and with much disappointment and bewilderment, it did not.

I find myself, at thirty-seven, wondering who I am, what I stand for.  I don’t have children to help define me, to give me purpose.  And I don’t have the career that I held onto with a vice-like grip, to help me justify the choices I’ve made across the years.

It’s these moments, this struggle for self-discovery that separates the weak from the strong.  How do we rebuild ourselves following ‘the end’?