We got our marriage license today. Now it's starting to feel official! It's hanging on our fridge, just waiting for the big day to come...

I tell you, it still bemuses me a bit how this man can look at me and see past the pain, past the limitations, past the coping mechanisms I've shrouded myself with, right to the core of me... and want to link himself to that for the rest of his life.

We're only nine days out, and I've got cold feet.

Not about marrying C, not at all! It's the thought of "forever" that freaks me out. The thought of, "I can never ever just pick up and leave again."

But then again, there are other, bigger thoughts that crowd those out... like the thought of, "This man has supported me through my lowest lows, has seen me sobbing and disheveled, has borne the brunt of my impatience and insecurity... everything. He's taken everything I and my crazy life/past have thrown at him, and he's still just here. Patient. Unendingly loving and wise. Not going anywhere."

And that's enough to quell the panic that rises inside me. Sure, maybe I'm voluntarily turning myself into a caged bird, but it's that very cage that will hold me up when I fall off my perch, dizzy with fatigue and shaking with pain.

You know, an interesting though struck me the other day... See, I've only just started to identify with the "chronic illness community" because of the fibro, and the disruption in my life makes me crave community and support. I realized, though, that I've had chronic illnesses for quite some time. I mean, the food allergies? Totally a chronic illness. The hypothyroid? Yep. Adrenal insufficiency? For sure.

They limited me in many ways, especially the food allergies. The fatigue was a big problem I had to contend with, but it was nothing like it is now. I just never considered myself as much less than normal, because I could still keep up with the big dogs if I pushed myself enough.

There's really no point to that observation, it was just a small "aha!" moment of mine. No moral to the story, sorry.

Mom and I talked for a good 3 hours the other day! It was really nice to connect with her again... she and I have both been busy, kind of overwhelmed with the stuff going on in our lives... She's got a ton going on, and I believe she's struggling with depression still, and definitely with fatigue. She has discovered that working out consistently and changing some of her eating habits is helping her with that, though, and I'm very glad to hear it.

I told her what happened with BJ, just an overview, but I did mention what was brought up about my having fibro because I left God, allegedly. She thought that I said "because I love God", and she was like, "Oh, I totally agree!"

I was shocked, because I thought she was agreeing with what I said, not what she heard. Rather than just shrug it off, I addressed it, saying, "Ouch, Mom! That is a hurtful statement. Do you really feel that way?"

Of course, she was confused, which led to clarification of what I had actually said, which led to her vehemently opposing the idea. She believes that, basically, I'm being attacked by Satan because I'm a threat. From there, she went on to give me this really, really affirming talk about how she's always felt that I am meant for something great, like I have a big destiny, that I was meant to live a big life.

She felt for a while that, in marrying and settling down with C here in this little town, I was basically settling. Now, though, she really feels that it is the best thing I could be doing, because it gives me the stability and support that I need to really flourish and blossom. She said that no matter where I go or what I do, I'm going to influence people and make an impact, and live a big life. She also pointed out that the fibro has only slowed me down, not stopped me. She said that nothing has or can stop me. Basically, she told me that I was an amazing person who has this incredible power to inspire others, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, and that the bad things that have happened to me really only serve to inspire others more, because they just can't get me down! It was, as I said before, very affirming. Very filling. Incredibly encouraging. I was happy. (Still am!)

When I told C about what Mom said, especially the part where she said that marrying C is the best thing I could be doing with my life, I could tell that it really pleased and affirmed him, too.

I shared with Mom how my perspective on my chronic illnesses is changing. It's much like how my perspective on being abused has shifted over the years. At first, when I was first coming to terms with it, it was devastating. I still have a tough time with it on some days, because the state of illness that I'm in has fundamentally altered my life in many ways. I didn't exactly want my life fundamentally altered, thankyouverymuch! As I've come to grips with it, though, I am starting to view it more through the lens of optimism.

Sure, it's been tough. Very tough. This last flare did not make me happy at all. Living life in constant, intense pain is wearing. I don't like it, and I wouldn't choose it. The sheer exhaustion that comes after doing basic daily tasks that I used to take for granted (even with the fatigue that I experienced previously limiting some activities) is incredibly frustrating, and I would only wish it upon my enemies.

That being said, I have gained so, so much from this experience. I have connected with communities of chronic illness survivors and made some really incredible new friends. We are developing a rich connection that wouldn't be possible if we didn't share something so intimate and difficult as chronic pain and frustrating health conditions. It's like the ladies in my support group-- we are all there for similar reasons, and we can bond because of our pain and our shared will to survive and conquer.

My relationship with C has been strengthened, I think. I know now beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will never waver in his commitment to me. His character and loyalty have been very much tested, and he has proven to be solid gold.

My desire to live an intentional, authentic life has been honed and sharpened. I only have so much energy, so where am I going to put it? What is important to me? My priorities have been refined.

This woman, Stacey Kramer, sums it up beautifully. She survived something incredible (no spoilers here! ^_^), but she can now see it as a gift. That's kind of how I see this debilitating, chronic illness now. It's a gift. A terrible, wonderful gift.

I may have days when I totally don't feel that way, and that's okay, because in the big, grand scheme of things, I really am grateful for the life that I'm living. I am blessed. I love my life, and I am very content. I can say in all honesty that I am the happiest, healthiest (yes, really!) and most authentic that I've ever been.

I talked about that today when I spoke at a domestic violence prevention training. I've survived a ton of crap, but I'm such an awesome person now... how can I not see it as a terrible, wonderful gift? Would I rather not have had to go through it? Hell yes! I would rather NOT have been abused, molested, neglected, and rejected. I would really prefer to live my life without pain hounding my every footstep. (Or foot-shuffle, as the case may be...)

But would I be the person that I am right now if I skipped all those things? Probably not. And I love who I am. I love the life I'm living.

So I choose acceptance. And I choose gratitude. And I choose to accept the gift and make the most of it, in all its terrible, wonderful complexity.

2 thoughts:

  • Toni | March 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Hi, I was touched by your comment about cold feet and never being able to just pick and up leave again. I felt the same way and I was really overjoyed when I found that I can just pick up and leave anytime I really want to and I get to bring my best friend with me. Its cool!

  • Optimistic Existentialist | March 25, 2013 at 6:06 AM

    As someone who was also a victim of childhood abuse, I think I would not change what happened at all because it gave me a very unique perspective on life...

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