I guess she’s not really new, this new normal. She’s been hanging around for a while but made a poor first impression on me. And you know, first impressions are everything when making friends. There’s just something about her that rubs me the wrong way. Like how she’ll smile at you and make you feel significant, then when one thing doesn’t go her way she isn’t the least bit shy about making your life a living hell for a few days – or weeks. She’s chaotic and unpredictable. She’s so fucking crazy I finally decided if she’s going to be around I need to learn to live with her. It doesn’t matter how I want things to go, I don’t have much say in anything. And although I think she’s absolutely insane and half the time I can’t stand her – she’s my greatest teacher. She may not be the typical type of friend I choose, but I am tired – no exhausted – of pushing her away. I just hope that one day, like family, I can learn to love her.
I’ve reached a point in my journey with chronic illness where I have done almost everything possible to improve my quality of life. Multiple surgeries, physical therapy, acupuncture, counseling, diet changes, medication, supplements – it’s all helped, but my pain isn’t gone and things aren’t back to the way they were before chronic illness. For a long while I have been reaching for the stars, pushing to regain the perfectly healthy body I lived in for 20 years. I am not giving up hope, but I am letting go a little. It’s time to breathe into this new normal and stop waiting around to feel perfect. It’s so hard. The hardest thing I have ever done. But I am so tired of falling short. I am tired of surgeries that keep causing new problems & pain after resolving the old ones. I am tired of crying. I am tired of fighting my painful life and pushing it away.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if my pain is better or if I’ve just become better at living in pain. Wow, I’ve said pain a lot. Although there are things I can do now that I couldn’t before, some things that were once easy have become more difficult. I’m still at the doctors just as much, which I hate. I still miss out on plans with friends because of emergency room visits. I still spend vacations in bed with pain, like I did on my honeymoon. I still get too excited on no pain days, indulge in normal activities then pay the price and get depressed.
But I’m working again, even if just a few days a week. That’s something I haven’t done in two years. Every morning before work takes courage. Courage to trust that my body will behave. Courage to trust that I can handle if it doesn’t. Courage to tell myself that I am capable and strong, whether I believe it or not.
I get to work and focus on the flowers and the beauty in front of me. I appreciate my healthy hands as I prep stems and tape blooms for a bride. I relish in the fact that I get to talk to new people and be out of the house. Even though the sitting, bending and lifting hurts, it’s worth it because it gives me worth.
My new normal is unpredictable. It doesn’t include spontaneous trips, long runs, drinks with friends and the freedom to do with my body whatever my mind wants. In a lot of ways this new normal sucks, so I am slowly peeling away any sucky parts of life that I can control. Like desk jobs, terrible bosses, and doing things with my time that don’t serve me. I’d say not many people in this world have the guts to do that. This new normal has pushed me to improve my life in ways I probably never would have before. And if she keeps it up, we might actually become friends.
This piece is also featured on Gather for Women