“The first place we lose the battle is in our own thinking. If you think it’s permanent then it’s permanent. If you think you’ve reached your limits then you have. If you think you’ll never get well then you won’t. You have to change your thinking. You need to see everything that’s holding you back, every obstacle, every limitation as only temporary.”
I first saw these words scribbled on a thin sheet of ivory paper along with several bible quotes that had been left behind on a wobbly, coffee stained table at my local Starbucks. I had just finished my first 10K the week prior and nothing about those words bleeding through the thin paper barrier applied to me, so I crumpled them up and tossed the words aside. Several weeks ago I saw the words again, on a friend’s Facebook page, from a well known mega evangelical preacher, which to be honest most of the time leads to an eye roll and immediate dismissal on my part. One by one those words would stubbornly clang along my rails making the slow, creeping climb to the back of my mind where they would eventually come to a slow, thoughtful stop. I read the words again to myself, then I read them aloud, twice. I went to the kitchen just off of my office at work and I tore the napkin from a new roll perched on the counter top, and carefully took the sheet back to my desk. Not completely sure why I chose the frail napkin, I wrote the words as if Mrs. Hornsby, my third grade teacher, would be grading how neatly I was able to manage my letters. I carefully folded the makeshift paper up tucking it into the back pocket of my trousers like a big, bold secret.
Several weeks would pass until I found myself in the middle of the greenest grass I could find, a place where the ground felt sturdy and safe, surrounded by arms of the earth, I starred at the napkin a long while. Skipping the first sentence, I spoke the words. I let them linger in the soft spot of my desperation, releasing them only when they had left a scar, a reminder, a permanence. This is what I wanted to hear, and not from someone else, this is what I longed to tell myself, and what I honestly needed to believe. It was time to quench my thirst from this free fall by drinking my own epic kool-aid laced pep talk.
Let’s back up a minute. July proved to be filled with just as much pandemonium as always, my work schedule was relentless and I made the choice to take myself off my RA meds for the month. Getting sick after the injections and walking around barely able to function for two or three days out of the week, seemed like an impossible feat when we were so busy. I don’t regret that decision though, because for the first time in awhile I forgot I was sick. I didn’t feel the sludge of methotrexate coursing through my body, leaving behind, the discarded, nauseous wreckage of a metallic tasting, tongue tied mess. A spree of the moment road trip to Louisville for the day would prove to me that I was still alive inside, still able to walk my path carefree, drinking up the intoxicating laughter like sweet tea in the salty south, it was indeed lovely, and a gift. I continued fighting fatigue and pain but the haze of the narcotic meds certainly added a dreamy buffer to the landing when breaking my fall from grace…it didn’t take too long until my body rejected the idea of a vacation from the RA meds.
August triumphantly arrived announcing my three week vacation from work. Three weeks is a long time. A long time to think about folded up words, about what you really want, and plenty of time to fall completely apart, hitting the seemingly endless bottom of your days. Then out of pure intoxicating defiance, raging vehemently against the idea that there is no more of your story left to tell.
I forced myself to answer the questions by actions and commitments to change, which seemed to lead me to the starting line for what is next. After months of struggling to write, it seems I have found my voice again, and it has changed everything.
If you think it’s permanent then it’s permanent.– I wake up each day and assess the parts of my body that are not in pain, I say a simple “thank you” out loud reminding myself that no matter now good or bad that day particular day turns out to be, tomorrow brings with it a new hope for better understanding and change.
If you think you’ve reached your limits then you have.-The doctors told me I could not run any longer, I took those words with total acceptance, never bothering at first to seek out another solution, but with the help of my ortho doc, I found one. I joined a new gym three weeks ago and now I run almost every day, in the pool. Sometimes I wear my running clothes and water shoes in the pool, I move through the water just like I was pounding the pavement. I close my eyes and run through the hills of Eden Park, the tree lined streets of Ashville, NC passing the other runners training for races along the way. My favorite moment is when someone else is swimming in the lane next to me, I close my eyes when they splash by me and I am suddenly running in the rain on Florida Avenue with Tristan right beside me. Oh, you bet your sweet ass I run.
If you think you’ll never get well then you won’t.– I simply will not live my life letting a chronic illness dictate my happiness, even when I am sick or feel awful.
You have to change your thinking. – With every step, every word, and every opportunity I am committing to see the world in a way I have yet to experience it good and bad.
You need to see everything that’s holding you back- as a challenge, an opportunity, a way to be a better person.-acknowledging my overwhelming fear of the unknown, and bravely taking one small step at a time.
, every obstacle– I will acknowledge.
, every limitation-I will embrace with dignity and do my best to not let it define me or the mark I leave on this world.
You see I have two choices, I can certainly complain relentlessly and give up the fight, staying in the same sorrow soaked pool of lament I have been in for the last year struggling with all my might just to tread water, waiting, as I let my self-pity and bitterness get the best of me. Or I can do something else. I am choosing to do something else.
What is that something else you ask?