After I finished the last post I took a break from writing. I was doing so much better with my health that I wanted to simply focus on living life again. And for several months I did just that. I hiked the beautiful hills near my home, hung out with my family, did some traveling, and then returned last fall to my job as a kindergarten aide. Every so often I considered posting an update on how I was doing, but I was reluctant to return to the scene of the crime (so to speak), even if it was just to reflect on how far I’d come. I wanted to put that chapter of my life behind me and never look back. I wasn’t sure I would continue writing at all as it felt connected to such a challenging and demoralizing time in my life. I needed to believe that I had completely moved on. At some point along the way I forgot that chronic illness is called chronic for a reason. It can go into remission, but it can also flare up again multiple times over the course of a lifetime. And eventually it flared for me. In early winter I started catching virus after virus. By February I was feeling unwell a lot of the time, but it no longer felt viral. At first I was in complete denial. I couldn’t face the possibility that my health was in a decline, and because of this my moods became volatile. I alternated between weepiness and panic for several weeks. I felt like there was something wrong with my brain until Harlan, bless him, got me to admit that my health was simply not as robust as it had been for many months.
At first it felt like I was moving backwards when I all I wanted was to keep going forward. I didn’t want to slow down or recommit to becoming more conscious and aware. But I have been invited once again on this journey of presence. I can reject or accept the invitation. And I’m choosing to accept it.
To be clear, I’m not sick like I was before. I often feel run down and achy, and I’ve had to occasionally cancel on friends or miss work. But I’m not in bed. I still have a job, I get my kids where they need to go, and I’m singing with my chorus again. I just have to carefully manage my energy and my output and avoid pushing myself beyond my limits. And right now, I’m OK with that.
I could have worked through this turn of events privately, but I decided to share my journey once again. I’m aware that it might seem self-indulgent to write about myself and then publish it for others to read. But writing for a potential audience is a lot more fun than writing in a journal. It energizes me and motivates me to stay focused on what I’m trying to learn. It provides clarity as I process what I’m going through. And I believe that sharing our vulnerabilities is important. We often keep our most discouraging experiences to ourselves and then wonder why we feel so alone. I want to be open and honest about my highs and my lows. Life is challenging. And the more we can share our difficulties with others, openly and without shame, the more connected we will hopefully feel.