My M.S. Update

How are you?  You feeling OK?

I answer these two questions constantly. Most often asked by folks I don’t see on a regular basis. And since my job includes a group of 1,400 people, the rotation of folks that I don’t see on a regular basis, is well, regular.

It’s been awhile since I updated on my health.  I still have MS – it doesn’t go away but my symptoms are manageable. I’m still following a primarily plant-based diet and still practice self-care by speaking life to myself each day, and trying to keep my stress level low(er), as well as doing things that allow “me” time, such as massages and manicures.

I think the biggest thing is that I’m super, almost hyper, sensitive to every nuance in my body and how I feel. I swear that during stressful times I can feel each strand of hair on my head move. I try hard to remember that each day is just a day and that a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. A bad food decision doesn’t ruin a day; it’s just a bad decision.  The problem with that last one though is that I’ve given myself a lot of grace…and I mean a LOT of grace. I can’t really explain it except to say that maybe I’ve been so successful that I feel like I can’t fail? And that’s a hard mindset (for me) to overcome. Maybe it’s because for the past few years, people allowed me to live by excuses… if I was angry, I had right to be; if I was sad, I had a right to be; if I was snippy or rude, I had a right to be; if I needed a night of binge eating following by laziness, I had a right to be.

The reality is that it’s a privilege to be surrounded by friends that understand that there will be days that I’m still angry, sad, rude or snippy. But they are excuses, and I don’t have the right to keep using what happened to me to still control me and allow me to get away with the lack of common courtesy. It’s the same with MS. Yea, it sucks to think that I have something that will forever be a part of my life. But Lord, help me to remember that it’s a part of my life – it’s not my life.  It’s forever going to guide me, but I don’t want to give it so much control that it leads me.

So, right now, I’m struggling mentally with accepting the limitations of what I should eat. It’s easy to have and experience success short term, like I did from August to December last year. I have medical evidence that the plan I am following does work for me. But now, I’m feeling the weight of having to do this every day for the rest of my life.  I’m not angry that this is my life. I accept the story that is mine knowing that somewhere, somehow there is a plan and a purpose. This body is just a shell – just a physical manifestation of a life that I believe I will have for eternity. And in the end, no matter the emotional, mental, physical struggle that each day brings me I know one thing to be absolutely true….

I may not have signed up for this life but I’m damn sure going to show up for it.

 

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Webster has no words

I hate the thought of labels, but secretly I crave the definition just for some sort of inkling as to who I am now.

Since the word vomit incident, I’ve been back to see my therapist. I shared with her what happened and she said what I already knew – maybe there are still some unresolved items. Maybe she’s right.

Some things in life are easy to define; but consider infidelity, divorce, and then suicide all in a matter of just four months and who knows what to call it other than mind-numbing. This I know… this was the craziness that was my life in 2014.

Since the “craziness that was my life” happened, I’ve struggled what to call it, how to refer to it, how to give it the “respect” it’s due. In fact, I always seem to default to calling it the “Craziness.”  It doesn’t seem to fit any mold, at least none that I know.  I mentioned to my therapist that I think I struggle with defining it because I really don’t want to be tied to whatever label might come with it.

To me legally divorced and emotionally widowed is the only thing that makes sense and yet, that’s not an option when filling out paperwork (since the Craziness every time that question comes up, I leave it blank.)  With my recent determination towards self-care, I affirm each morning that I am a child of God, that I am loved with an everlasting love, that I am clothed with strength and dignity and laugh without fear of the future (Prov 31:25) but there are times that I still can’t seem to figure out who I am and the lyrics to Irene Cara’s song Out Here on My Own play over and over in my mind.

I’m not sure I will ever really know what to call it. And maybe the Craziness will just be what it will always be. And maybe I don’t need a label. Maybe the definition of it will be just a picture of me surviving after such a crazy time that was my life. Maybe…. nope, definitely.

 

Word Vomit, Verbal Diahrea, A Rose

…by any other name, they’re all the same.

Ugh, I was feeling so good about where I was mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. And for the most part, I am in a pretty good place but unfortunately, I got “sick” on a poor unsuspecting soul a couple of weeks ago and it has been on my mind ever since.

It was just any ordinary day at work. I had a meeting with a colleague/friend to go over some prep work for her upcoming lecture. Four months after M took his life, her own husband did the same thing. That sort of story seemed to be the theme for me in 2015. I remember asking God what was I supposed to do with all of “this” and in the span of six months, three other women I knew experienced the loss of a spouse/former spouse through suicide. I knew that at least I would know what to say and could share, even if just a tiny bit, some of the same emotions they were feeling.

Well, fast forward another 18 months. C & I were casually chatting after we finished our business and she shared with me that another woman she met basically blurted out that her husband had died in the same manner and it took my friend C by surprise. I shared with her that it was a story shared all too often once people know that you can “relate.”

I hate the stigma about even saying the word suicide. I read obituaries now (weird, I know) and I can tell when the cause of death is suicide. Sometimes, the person was young, other times older, but there is always a sadness that is different from other obituaries and I know that the loved one writing it is struggling to say what they cannot understand and my heart hurts so deeply for them. 

But back to me and C. Well, next thing I know it’s thirty minutes later and I’ve totally unleashed on her a multitude of things that really didn’t need to be said. I shared stories of mine & M’s relationship and shared a bit about the challenge that was life when he was alive. I shared that I now know and understand why abused women stay and how it ended like it did. It was definitely more than needed to be shared and yet I couldn’t stop myself — so much word vomit! It was the worst case of verbal stomach flu ever.

And when it was over and C had left, I knew it was definitely a lot for someone to have heard for the first time. I have to realize that I’ve had 30 months to live/mourn/recover/remember/mourn/recover/grieve/mourn/recover… but for someone hearing it all for the first time, I cannot imagine how it must have sounded.

There is nothing I can do now except try to face her as if it didn’t happen. Hmmm…I suppose denial isn’t the best thing to do – ha! but I am sorry it happened. I wouldn’t wish the reality of what I went through on anyone, let alone the retelling of it. But I hope that on some level, C can understand the emotions that you think are in order can all of a sudden rise to the top and some poor unsuspecting soul gets more than they bargained.

 

Reservation for Two, Table for One

Since M is no longer a part of my life, I’ve been to movies, concerts, restaurants, and local events by myself. That’s nothing new for me – I was doing all of these before I met M and immediately after the craziness that was my life in 2014, I did things by myself primarily because I needed the escape from my own life.

I still go to movies and concerts and out to dinner and local events but now I prefer to share these moments with others.  Recently, I purchased two tickets to see one of my favorite songwriters, Matisyahu.  I had always purchased multiple tickets and I was always fortunate enough to find someone with the time and money to go – that is until now. For weeks, I asked everyone I knew and the answer was always no thank you, can’t make it, I don’t know that artist, nope.

Now mind you, money is still not the easiest for me to come by, so having $80 wrapped up in a ticket that I was going to have to suck up really hurt.  Just because I was willing to spend $80 on a ticket didn’t mean anyone else was willing to spend $80 on a ticket.  In the end, I called a friend at the last minute and said that either I could go by myself or find someone who enjoys all kinds of music even if they didn’t know this particular artist. And in turn, she drove and paid for dinner so for me that was a win/win.

Yet somehow, this became yet another reminder that at the end of the day, it is just me – a table for one. When I pause and remember to put it all in perspective, I’m realizing I’m in good company since after all…

Just one sun lights the sky.
Just one moon turns the tide.
A man can change the world with just one thought.
One promise made can last forever
Just one rock will bend a river
One God up in heaven is all we’ve got        

yup… sometimes one can be a lot

One Can be Alot – Blackjack Billie

I See You

I’ve seen lots of comments about eating better, exercising more, and becoming financially stable. All of this seems reasonable as it is the start of a new year. As I look back on the past couple of years, 2015 was my year of acknowledging the craziness of the prior year, 2016 was the year of Z- where I chose not to accept any new obligations, I withdrew from existing obligations, and I embraced what my pastor’s wife taught me, “No thank you is a complete sentence.”

I own the mistakes I’ve made and that I make. Realizing that brings me back to August 2014 after M told me what he did.  At the encouragement of a friend, I started talking to a counselor specializing in affair recovery. What I remember now is that in the conversation, part of the counselor’s advice was that I was too passive and that I needed to take more of a stronger stance. That doing so would show M that I wasn’t a pushover and that M would find that attractive and see that he didn’t want to leave me after all.  I did my best to do what the counselor told me to do, but if I were having that conversation today I would tell him “Bullsh*t – why is it my fault?”

I was labeled and blamed for a lot of things that year, some I assumed on my own…some given by M, and some by others who didn’t know better.  I know what it’s like to feel like you have no place you belong. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t know who you are anymore. I know what it’s like to feel like somehow it’s all your fault and I know what it’s like to be told that it is.

My goal for 2017 is to figure out how to take my experiences and help others. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I’m willing to see it through. Some days I still feel broken but I know I’m mended, and now I want to help mend others. I’m grateful that during the craziness of infidelity/divorce/suicide that I had friends who saw “me” not just the circumstances that were mine at that time. I’d like to be able to do that for someone who doesn’t have the support system in place like I did/do.  I’d like to show them that there is peace on the other side, that it’s not their fault, and that there are people that can see them for more than the circumstances that surround them. I see you, friend, I see you.