If you have ever read my blog, and you would have to go a ways back, you would see that each year around the end of that year, I take stock. I look at my life in technicolor. I look at the past, I look at the present, and I try to see what my future will form. I am never good at actually predicting the future, it takes me months to look seriously into my present, and my past is a mixture of lost memories and made up understandings. It isn’t always productive to look at your life, although coaches around the world would disagree, but it can give you a moment to feel as if your trying.
I have been looking through my life for most of my life. Even when I was young I was always looking inward; of course, back at the beginning the surfaces were much shinier than now. Like all my years since the moment I turned nineteen and I was diagnosed with this horrible mental disease, this past year has more bad memories than good. There is more stress when I look back or look into the mirror today than there ever was prior to the onset of this disease. It is simply a note, a truth, a fact that can’t be dirtied by my own hopes and dreams.
One of the things that I noticed about this last year was that for a good portion of it I was sick. I don’t mean mentally ill but physically ill. Stomach aches, migraines, lethargy, cramps, etc. etc. I have run fevers and lost weight. There was a period of about two months at the end of summer that I couldn’t even get out of my chair. I literally lived in it and everything from the state of my house to my children suffered because of it. There is no escaping that today I am taking more pills than ever before. There is no mistaking the knowledge that I have in my arsenal of pills “emergency” pills to immediately try and make me feel better. And although I am only supposed to take “emergency” pills when I desperately need them, I have found that taking them has become a daily habit.
This next paragraph will sound strange to you but it is nothing but the truth. Maybe a truth I should have seen a long time ago but one that is planted as firm as those impressive red oaks. The truth is most of my physical ailments, and you can’t fake a migraine or cramps, are caused solely by stress. Maybe because I am mentally ill the stress that I experience is more insidious than for those who live normal lives. Maybe because I am mentally ill the stress can be eradicated with simple diet changes or exercising. Maybe the stress is simply a manifest of the disease and not the world in which I live. But it really doesn’t matter, because whether I like it or not the stress is what is destroying the physical health that I can’t take for granted.
I don’t want to be sick anymore. I want to figure out what it is, or probably who it is, that is causing my level of stress to go so high that I need actual prescriptions to combat it. People have always been a major source of stress for me. On one level, I don’t understand stupidity. One the other level, I don’t understand why people, people who profess to love me, find it so easy to take advantage of my inability to be strong to do their bidding. On another level, I don’t understand why people lie. I don’t understand why people can’t see me and understand not what I am suffering, but the very fact that I do suffer.
My husband, who can and will be a great support to me, can also seem to forget about me. Maybe he is just tired of dealing with me, but there are times when I am literally crying my eyes out but my husband doesn’t even see. He can be kind and wonderful and he can easily turn into the one person with the most knives to throw. I don’t understand that. My mother can not give me the encouragement or at least the minuscule amount of relief that I have always wished she could. She can not give me tangibles when it is the only thing that I can actually trust. I don’t understand that. My father can’t give me time. It is beyond him to find within me something good. I don’t understand that. Strangely enough, it is my sister who repeatedly does the one thing no one else in my life can: she never treats me like I have a disease. Don’t get me wrong we only talk to one another every couple of months and can go two years without seeing on another. Maybe because she doesn’t have to deal with me, she can see me which can give me a sense of love that others don’t. I have love in my family. I have love from my family. But not one of them can give me the rest and safe place that I have searched for years. And while I can acknowledge that this is partly my fault for not communicating and assuming they will just guess, another side of this contains the wishes and dreams that I guess for me just can’t come true. I even know what the reaction of each of the members of my immediate family are going to have the moment this because public. I know how my husband will roll his eyes. I know how my husband will blame me, shame me, and basically make me once again fight my own hell. I know my mother will shut down and shut me out. And I know that my father will simply and completely not hear and just begin shining the light on himself. And yet, if we are honest about those closest to me, than this becomes the greatest stress and therefore, the greatest disease that I have to fight.
I have come to realization lately that my biggest weakness is my inability to truly communicate what it is that I need and what it is that I want. I can blame my family until kingdom come, but the truth is until I get the guts to literally teach those I love what I need, I will continue to live just as I am. And it is more than saying no. It is more than screaming my frustrations out. It is primarily about realizing that those I adore can’t give me what I need, because I can’t give them what they need.
When I was talking about this to my therapist, (a topic which she reminded me that she has been trying to get me to see for years) she brought up a good point: damage. Because all change creates damage. All change creates a new and different dialogue which if we are honest, damages. Figuring out what matters to me, what I need, and how to communicate those things will severely damage the relationships I have; at least if I do it right. So what kind of damage am I willing to sustain in order to find that elusive comfort that I, like everyone else, deserves? What am I willing to give up in order to be the person who can not only be healthy but find the necessary places in this world that makes it easier to breathe? What am I willing to do to be able to feel that I can breathe without the shame of taking someone else’s air?
I am not a person that can stand up for herself, yet at the age I am I should absolutely be able to do just that. I am not a person that handles confrontation in a healthy manner, but at this age I damn well better start figuring it out. I don’t like change, I don’t like traveling outside my comfort zone; but at this age it’s time I did.
I am sitting here, taking a big sigh, while I realize that no matter what I do to find that lessening of stress the odds are against me. My ability to lessen the stress in my life and find a more healthy physical self is not guaranteed, certainly not when we are talking about the truth of me. My ability to finally discover that one place that I can truly relax and trust in its existence is like finding a polar bear in the rain forest; possible but not likely. And as far as new year’s revelations go, that last one is probably the real truth. I will never in this life find that comfort and haven that I am looking for; but maybe I can learn to find my own world to live in. And in that world maybe I can learn to communicate and I can learn that stress can be curbed before it ever jumps the wall