Wednesday, August 2, 2017

No Regret

Sixteen years ago I thought it would be grand to be honeymooning on my twenty-fifth birthday. So I scheduled my wedding to take place five days before I hit that quarter-of-a-century mark. I had visions of taking a fabulous vacation over that anniversary/birthday week for the rest of my life. And for the first few years, everything went as planned. While money may not have allowed us "traipse through the majestic hills of Santorini" type vacations, my husband and I made it a priority to get away for that week of celebration. Wow was life grand.

It stopped on my twenty-ninth birthday. I'd become ill two months prior and had to take a voluntary demotion at work. The last thing on my mind was going on vacation. I was hanging on to life as I knew it with broken fingernails dangling off a cliff. We still celebrated, don't let me portray myself as deprived. But life was different. Over the course of the next year every doctor I visited declared there was nothing wrong with me. Eventually my pain and fatigue got so bad I couldn't get out of bed and had to go on state disability. This meant my doctor was forced to give me a diagnosis: chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

On my thirty-fourth birthday I was in the hospital after having just survived two life-threatening strokes. It was a surreal day, one where the very essence of being alive was all I needed to fill me up with more hope and joy than I'd felt in years. I was also being treated with high-dose steroids, which filled me up with hope and joy before turning me into a raging lunatic.

Life didn't turn out at all like I expected. I didn't anticipate getting sick with chronic illness, losing my career, and almost dying a bunch of times. Most unexpected, however, is that I'm still standing here trying to forge ahead. It took me eight years to get my fibro truly managed, and I lost it in a gigantic relapse two years ago. Last year I was so panicked about turning forty, the regret over my lost life was oozing out of me like a bleeding wound. My birthday was more about damage control than a celebration.

Yesterday was my forty-first birthday. It's been a trying year, but I am coming out of my relapse slowly but surely. Between my sixteenth wedding anniversary last Thursday and yesterday's celebration, I'm a cooked little cookie. Nobody's more surprised than me to discover I'm not mad about how depleted I feel. I'm not even upset about the gigantic flare starting to settle in. I'm not regretting my lost thirties, or getting mad that I'm being punished for trying to enjoy life, or giving one more moment of my life away to remorse. I can't spend time in my past; it's too awful back there. No, I'm far more interested in what the future is going to bring me than what the past has already brought.

Thanks for joining,