Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Girl Behind All That Lemonade

Dale Carnegie said: "When fate hands you lemons, make 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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Migrainista said...

Love this post!

Sue said...

It sounds like you just like to be sad.

Diabetes 2 can be cured, just as it was aquired by your unhealthy eating habits and inactivity.

You don't mention which type of dysautonomia you have.

Fibromyalgia is not a real disease. It is a physical manifestation of poor sleep patterns with is often triggered by depression.

People like yourself need to stop saying things like "I have fibromyalgia." or "I have type 2 diabetes." And instead need to say things like "I need to fix my sleeping patterns" and "I need to eat healthy and exercise more"

I recognize that some of your pains have been very real. But you have let them take over your mind and take over your life. Writing a woe-is-me blog isn't helping yourself. You are just perpetuating your situation by sitting at your computer instead of getting outside and finding things to enjoy again.

Go find things to enjoy. A pill and a blog is not going to help your situation. Enjoyment of life needs to come from within you.

Rachel said...


Please - until you try living with chronic illness do not presume to say such untrue and ridiculous things as "Fibromyalgia does not exist".

You don't think that if it was as simple as regulating sleep patterns the thousands and thousands of people this effects would do just that?
Sure - achieving regulated sleep helps, and for many people with Fibro is a major breakthrough in managing their condition - but it is not a miracle cure. To say that "all" Fibro is, is a physical manifesation of poor sleep patterns triggered by depression is beyond belief and just shows your lack of knowledge of the subject. People with Fibro may become depressed, however that is hardly surprising, especially if they have to deal with people such as you attacking them. Your judgmental attitude is, quite frankly, offensive. Chronic illness is not something anyone choses.

You are obviously very selective in your reading, as Selena states that she has joy in her life - this is anything but a "woe-is-me" blog.

Back off and go find some other blog to troll rather than picking on someone who is being honest, open and authenic about their experience of chronic illness. By doing so, she may well help many other people who are struggling with the same issues.

Shannon said...

Let me at those know-it-all bitches (like Sue) who presume to understand what it is like to live with Fibromyalgia. Let her live in my (or your) body on my worst day and see how "real" it really is. I'd like to bitch-slap people who think going outside for some fresh air and exercise is some miraculous cure-all for everything/anything that ails you. Especially when they have the gall to say it to your face.

Selena, thank you for again being so open and honest about how you feel and for sharing your very personal experience with FM/CFS with us. Of course you know better than to let jerks like Sue bring you down. Good on you for posting her presumptuous yet ignorant know-it-all comment. Those that matter know the truth. Much love from your Spoonie friends :)

Nikisaprincess said...

I agree with Shannon. I'd like to invite Sue to kiss my Fibro, CFS and Autonomic dysfunction having a$$. These IGNORANT people need to understand that we are not embracing our illnesses...and yes, they are illnesses, we are just trying to cope. Must be nice to be so perfect, Sue. Walk a mile in my shoes...well actually you couldn't because you'd faint...before you judge. Just obnoxious. Sue deserves to be cursed out from head to toe, and then back up again.

Sheila said...

I'm waiting anxiously for Sue to post the credentials qualifying her to make such statements. It's very easy to spout off advice when one is on the other side of the fence. It would be so sad if she developed one of the health problems she's so quick to dismiss.

Much respect to you Selena!
Love, Sheila
Autoimmune Maven, sick girl & successful health care professional.

Kathy said...

Boy Sue sure did start a sh*t storm, didn't she? But this is a syndrome not a disease UNTIL the CDC NIH and all the rest of the alphabet get off their collective butt and do their FREAKIN homework and figure out what exactly is wrong. Whatever.

Selena I could have written this post, and pretty much did, just not so eloquently, not too long ago.

But I found something to drive me to a purpose and I'm getting lots done on the computer...and out at the meetings as I can. Contributing to a cause I believe in really helps me. I'm doing things I didn't think I could do any longer (multi-tasking...although I don't do it well) and I love the feeling of knowing I'm making a difference.

I'm not going to throw ideas at you. Well yes I am, but just a for instance...what about counseling other people who are ill...online? Making it a business. You have the credentials for it, right? And there are plenty of people that could benefit from your knowledge. I know I certainly have. Just a thought.

But if this were to work like it did for me it would have to be something that it's like you've waited your whole life for and there was suddenly an opening and *boom* there it is :-)

I hope you find it. I just got really, really lucky.

Kathy/FibroDAZE said...

Selena, I am sorry to read Sue's comment. What ignorance. And so hurtful. Take care.

Unknown said...

Thank you all my chronic friends for supporting me. I really appreciate it.

As for you "Sue", I have to say that I am disappointed in your lack of empathy and compassion for those of us living with chronic invisible illnesses like fibromyalgia and type 2 diabetes.

I'll be writing posts soon to correct the misinformation you gave about type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia and depression in your comment. It's clear you don't have accurate information about these illnesses/conditions...

Rachel said...

If it helps, the "moving on" you do with being a chronic illness advocate means so much to me. I know it doesn't pay the bills, but for me, it leaves me a little more fulfilled - and I hope it does you as well.

Jamie said...

Thanks for sharing this, Selena. It resonates with me all too well. Blessings.