There have been a lot of negative-sounding posts in this blog series, I’m guessing you’ve noticed. (Yeah, that was an attempt at wry humor there. I just don’t know how to express it without emoticons, apparently.)
It’s true that this series is intended to paint as accurate a picture as possible. I’m not going to lie or sugar-coat it: this illness is hard. Really hard. And if I didn’t show you how hard, then you wouldn’t begin to understand it. Of course, there are times when I can be blasé or cheerful, I can smile and shrug it off, because no matter how long or how hard something is, our ability to cope with the same things can shift up and down.
I should note that I have a hard time explaining or talking (verbally) about it, and so whatever I have to say now is pretty much memorized, and any script, once known by rote, can be delivered in any tone of voice, with any actions or gestures, with any sort of light in the eyes. So my verbal explanations can be deceiving. That’s part of why I wanted to write it all out for you, where I could come at this illness from as many angles as possible and explore it piece by piece.
However, despite the darkness previously painted for you–in every night sky, there are stars, whether we can see them or not.
It is up to me to search them out.
Today I wanted to name a few of those stars, give them form, shape, and position. I want to name a few of the good things that have come of so much darkness.
- I am getting stronger. For months I could not feel it, could not see it. I thought I was weak and beyond weak because I could not manage to be who I wanted to be, to behave how I wished to behave, but now I understand. When you go to the gym to lift weights, you don’t lift the easy, small weights every time you go. Instead, you gradually lift heavier and heavier weights. Each time you lift weights, you feel weak and your arms tremble because the weights are getting heavier and you’re not accustomed to lifting so much for so long, but irregardless of how you feel, your muscles are getting larger, too. Despite how weak you feel, your capacity to lift heavier weights is growing. It’s also good practice to lift weights to strengthen your whole body, concentrating on different areas rather than just one. –Feeling weak does not denote weakness, it just means that your limits are being tested, and that your muscles are going to get bigger, stronger, more dense.
- I am more patient – with myself, with others, with the past, present, and future.
- Harsh, impatient expectations (like perfectionism, rigid time-tables) are fading.
- I see things now that many others don’t see. Sometimes it’s because I’m standing now in a different place than I was two years ago, I’ve climbed the hill and I can see more of the city, more of the unobstructed night sky. Other times it’s because I’m so open about my experiences that people feel comfortable opening up to me about things they’ve suffered or are struggling with, when they never would have previously.
- My capacity for understanding, empathy, and compassion has deepened through experience.
- I have had spiritual experiences that are as precious pearls to me, that I never would have dreamed possible five years ago, in the place that I was. These shine brightly, and I clutch tightly to them “when all other lights go out.”
- My fears are fading, replaced by faith and trust and peace, that no matter what happens, everything will be all right–everything IS all right– because time and time again, I’ve seen good things happen, no matter how bad it gets.
- I’m learning how to be interdependent rather than independent. How to be open, honest, vulnerable, and strong. How to rely on others.
- I’m learning how to take care of myself better, and that there are things I can’t do or be for others, and that’s okay.
- Being sick is not a vacation, but it has given me time and space to read and write, look at my priorities and decide what’s most important to me.
- I’ve also had the time to really delve in and get to know all the ins and outs of the publishing industry, which is useful.
Some of these stars shine more brightly than others. I am mortal, after all. Some of these lessons aren’t very strong yet, I’m not very consistent at remembering or calling on them in the moment, but that’s okay, too.
I wouldn’t wish these harsh life experiences on anyone, but you might be surprised to learn that I wouldn’t wish them away, either. I like who I am, who I have become, and what these have made me. I like what I now see, the power I now have to see, to care, to shape the world for the better–one person at a time. I am in awe of the things I’m learning, and I hope to keep moving, keep learning, keep growing as life goes on. May I never become stagnant. May I never stop poking at the universe’s warp and weft, to see the strands and learn why and how and what next?.