Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The Girl Behind All That Lemonade
Sure, there are a bazillion other versions of this quote. The most memorable one that comes to my mind at the moment is: "When life gives you lemons, hand them back and ask for chocolate instead."
But let's not kid ourselves here: the lemons life sticks us with are not exchangeable or returnable. Period.
And we might all get them, but certainly not in any sort of equitable distribution. Which probably accounts for the mountains of them that have shown up on my doorstep so far in my lifetime.
So what do I do with all those lemons? I have made lemonade of course: lots and lots of delicious lemonade.
I've learned to cope, adapt and change. I've learned to smile through my pain and hide my tears when life feels more like a punishment than a blessing. To deal with all those lemons, I've transformed myself into the ultimate super trooper. Heck I've even adopted the motto "Life is not in having and getting, but in being and becoming." (Matthew Arnold)
This is all fine and dandy, but it also begs the question, 'Who is that girl behind all that lemonade?' I mean, I don't walk around 24/7/365 with moonbeams sparkling in my eyes, rainbows shooting out of my ears and a glass of lemonade in my hand. I'm not always smiling and putting a on happy face...and some of those lemons do wind up smashed on the kitchen floor (among other places.)
So let me get real. Here is a peek behind the lemonade stand at three of the more grittier themes that are also a part of my life.
If I am going to be really honest, one the first things I need to admit is that I feel disappointed. I'm not living the life of my dreams and that is quite a letdown.
At the moment, I've kind of put dreaming on hold because it brings me even more disappointment, and who needs that, right? I'm strictly living life one day at a time, because it sometimes gets too overwhelming to think about life with chronic illness in bigger chunks that that.
Sure, life disappoints all of us on some level. But my main concern is that I am not going to be the one things I always wanted to be--a mom. Between infertility and chronic illness, life really has made this next to impossible (despite all the spam comments to the contrary every time I write about this painful subject.)
I'm at the point where disappointment is turning into regret...
When you have a lot of bad things happen to you, you can't help but feel the loss, disappointment and unfairness of it all. It hurts like crazy! And who wants to have to feel like that, right?
Sure, you can ignore it, distract yourself from it, even try to deny it. But sooner or later it catches up to you. Then you must decide if you will allow it to take you down into a black, bottomless abyss or chose to face it, feel it and figure out a way to keep living your life anyway.
When I say I am sad, what I am really feeling is sorrow. Sorrow is a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or misfortune. Sorrow has become part of who I am fundamentally. It's all those scars while I've been living my life anyway.
By the way, just because sorrow is a part of my life doesn't mean I don't also feel joy too. In fact, philosophically speaking, one might say that to experience true joy one must also experience sorrow. Either way, being sad is not the same as being clinically depressed, which by definition means you can't feel joy.
So don't send me referrals to shrinks or leave me recommendations for antidepressant medications. Well, at least not yet...
I haven't worked in seven years and, wow, that is a really long time. Boy do I miss it too.
When I was working I felt like I was on a path filled with accomplishments. I had a career mission, complete with all kinds of objectives and goals. I was getting things done every day, week, month and year and I had something that was tangible proof of it too: my resume.
In the last seven years I really don't feel like I have accomplished much. Sure, I have been taking care of myself day in and day out. I've developed some expertise in the self-help techniques I use to do just that too. But it's been an exercise in repeating the same goals and objectives over and over again. Sounds pretty boring to me. Plus I'd be hard pressed to create a resume with that kind of experience.
Most of all, I feel like I am floundering. Or maybe it's more accurate to say I currently feel like I'm squandering my time here on Earth. I mean, I believe that we all have some kind of purpose here and I am definitely feeling like my mission has run into some serious health-related roadblocks that are preventing me from fulfilling mine, whatever exactly that is.
Which leads me to my next point--I'm not sure what my purpose is anymore. Or perhaps I just haven't been able to figure it out because I have been so darn busy just trying to take care of myself. Talk about the daily grind...
Some Final Thoughts
Another truth is that I have been living with serious illness and its aftermath since 1988. That's 23 years. That's a lot of time...
Some of this time was spent sitting in therapists' offices talking (and talking and talking) about all the crap that has happened to me. I've had a lot of time to process these issues. Along the way I have been in denial, angry, freaked out, livid, heartbroken, anxiety-ridden, enraged, devastated and, yes, even clinically depressed.
Yes, I've had a lot of time to get down to the root of what bothers me the most and I think that disappointment, sadness and feeling unfulfilled pretty much sum it up. They also, ironically, are the things that motivate me to keep moving on. I haven't given up yet on creating a life that resembles some of my reality-tempered aspirations, contains a balance of joys and sorrows and helps me discover my true purpose and ways to fulfill it.
Funny how life works, isn't it?
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