Thursday, October 21, 2010

just keep swimming.

A couple of months ago, I realized that at the core of all of my recent emotional struggles was a lot of grieving over all of the changes in my life. In the past year and a half, I dealt with graduating from college, not seeing my friends as often, losing the battle to keep a strong friendship with my cousin, breaking up with my boyfriend, and dealing constantly with my health problems. Once I understood that it was grief, I was able to work through some of it instead of crying into my pillow every night because I was so overwhelmed.

Fall of last year was my lowest point. I still hadn’t fully accepted that I was done with college and that I would never see my friends as often as I had while at school. I was in complete denial both about my health issues and my deteriorating friendship with my cousin. It all upset me because I had no control over it. The only thing still intact at that point was my relationship.

Since then, I’ve gained closure about moving on with life in many ways. By the end of January, I’d say, I was finally okay with the idea that my friends and I were moving into a new stage in our lives. I also accepted that my friendship with my cousin was never going to be the same and that I should stop putting in so much effort to save it if she didn’t care.

In the spring, I realized my relationship with Mark needed to end, but it was an emotional rollercoaster all throughout the summer. I never mentioned much here and don’t want to go into a lot of detail, but as much as I tried to imply I had moved on, I hadn’t. It was an example of my horrible indecisiveness because I couldn’t decide if the decision we’d made was right. When he was stressing out and bringing it to me, it was the right decision; when we would hang out and get along, it was the wrong one. It wasn’t until I realized that I could find the good parts of our relationship somewhere else without all the negative ones that I was able to completely wash my hands of it. We’re still friends, but there isn’t anymore emotional flip-flopping on my part. It was an incredibly difficult decision to come to terms with, but doing so took a lot of weight off my shoulders that I didn't even realize I was holding.

Even with all of those accomplishments, all of those changes that I’ve finally accepted and settled in my mind, there’s one that continues to linger: my health issues. It always comes back to that. I could write pages about it, how I’m tired of feeling like I have no control over it, how often I think about what I could’ve done to prevent it, how I just want to go back to my old self, or how I constantly think about all the things I could be doing if I were healthy. It’s becoming harder and harder to tell people that no, I’m still not better and no, I haven’t really tried much.

There are things I should be doing, OTC medicines I can take and changes in my diet that should be relatively easy. Something, though, is holding me back – fear. Fear that I’m going to try any or all of the suggestions out there and that I’m not going to get better. Fear that this truly will be something with which I’ll have to constantly struggle. Fear that I will never have the life I’ve always wanted – hosting parties, going out with friends, being an event or wedding planner, even being a mother – because I’ll be too hampered by my illness. That’s really the part of it that keeps me up at night, that makes me cry and feel lonely, because it’s really difficult for anyone else to understand.

I know I’m making myself sound like a victim when I’m the only one who can fix my problems. Still, though, I want to say this: be thankful if you are untethered by health issues, either physical or mental. For much of my life I held back from things not because I couldn’t do them, but because I chose not to because I was afraid. Now that the ability to choose is taken away from me in most instances, I realize how much I took it for granted. It sounds silly and dramatic to say that considering I just have IBS and not something worse, but it’s really the truth.

As much as I’m afraid of none of my efforts being worthwhile, I don’t really have a choice. So I’ll keep trying and keep pushing and hope that some day, I can look back on this time in my life and be glad I made it through.