Hello, blank page.
I know, it’s been awhile.
I have both desperately craved and strictly avoided you, knowing I needed to write and terrified of what may come out.
What if it’s all the same? What do I do if I come here to write only to acknowledge that nothing has changed at all?
What happens then?
Fall used to mean new shoes and pencils and shiny, happy students.
Somehow it has morphed into surprise surgeries, never ending GI treatments, and heart-lurching loneliness…and every year, it surprises me.
What if the world knew that while there are people frolicking through apple orchards in flannel shirts and happily gulping down pumpkin-spice-everything with wild abandon, all I can think is “please please let’s just get this over with before something else breaks?”
What if they knew that every year is harder, not easier, and that with every year of lasting permanence, it becomes more difficult and bitter to swallow?
And why, why, WHY for the love of cinnamon buns and ponies, can’t I just get over it?
Every year as the march towards September soldiers on, the dread settles upon me like a lead blanket. I am unable to hold my generally emotionally-stable self together. I don’t even know this person, and I certainly don’t like her.
What if people knew? What would they think of me?
What if they knew that when they ask how I am and I say that I’m okay, I really mean that I’m not really good, but I’m certainly not bad and I’m just stuck, forever stuck, in the in-between of “just okay?”
What if I am always here? In this place where some days I can’t get off the couch and other days I go for a walk in the sunshine, and some days I am stuck in the bathroom and others I read a book and miraculously remember it, and most days I hold myself together just long enough to get to every item on the calendar before I fall apart into a heap.
What if…that’s it?
What if being okay is all there is for me?
Can I be happy in the okay? Can I be content to just keep swimming and hold my head above water?
Is being just okay…okay?
Having an invisible chronic illness is like living your life permanently on the sidelines. You look fine, you act fine, you generally show up to normal life-in-your-30’s events, but thats’s all — you’re just kinda there. You have little to talk about, not much to contribute, no race to run — or at the very least, that’s what it feels like.
It’s like being benched at the game you have waited your whole life to play.
For six long years I have swum upstream against the ever-changing current of the in-between, trying desperately to get around the river bend.
(Note to self: just how DID Pocahontas do it?)
I have watched the world continue to turn around me, as I remain in one place, one foot stuck in the mud as everyone goes about their lives.
The doors shut, the cars drive away, the bus rumbles down the street, and then…nothing. The stark, slap you in the face, deafening silence.
Nothing screams louder than silence.
What if people knew that I both need and am petrified of silence?
When it is silent, there is nothing to crowd out the blaring cacophony of my mind.
In August, Mr. RestartingMyHardDrive and I welcomed our first puppy.
(Yes you read that right. The same puppy I have been working on for all ELEVEN years of our relationship…and they say New Englanders are the stubborn ones.)
Alfie is a ball of fluffy happiness, and the most loyal and constantly exuberant companion. He gets me out of the house and into the world, and is the very best little fur-child (even when he is chewing on the wall…and my shoes…and the file cabinet…). He is exhausting and wonderful and makes us laugh every day.
So…why do I still feel…behind?
Can I be both intensely grateful for the incredible gifts of my life, and at the same time…just okay?
(No but really, he will stop chewing someday…right?)
It feels so complicated to be simultaneously the person who shoves iPhone photos of her dog in peoples’ faces without them asking (sorrynotsorry) and the person who eats lunch alone everyday, reading a cooking magazine propped up on a cookbook stand to fill the empty void.
Am I just one big paradox?
Motivated but distracted.
Restless but exhausted.
Together but alone.
Head in the stars, but feet stuck in the mud.
You can see now, semi-blank page, why I’ve stayed away.
I have so many questions, and so few answers.
Do you think my lack of answers, is the answer?
Is it that I just need to keep asking these questions, and swimming swimming swimming in search of more than “just okay?”
Aren’t I far too much of a dreamer to believe that this is it, that I just stay here in the same spot and let everything pass me by?
And furthermore, don’t I get to choose?
Is this all a grand invitation from the universe to face down my demons and dig deeper and allow the next phase of my life to show up?
What if I put it out there into the universe that I’m ready for a change??
What would happen?
I know…I KNOW.
The relentless monkey chatter of my mind has extensive opinions on the matter.
But this choice is mine, and does not belong to those monkeys. I owe nothing to the monkeys.
Aren’t I wasting the gift of life if I believe and accept that “just okay” is it?
I am not willing to wave the white flag.
I am not willing to forever and ever be “just okay.”
I know…I think I’ve always known. It just feels awfully bare and vulnerable out there in the open.
It may be days and it may be years and it may take many more pumpkin-spice themed Octobers of deafening silence.
But when the time is right, I will be here on the sidelines. I will be ready.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep swimming.