A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog about my therapists advice that I walk through the doors. In her wise council she recognized that I have been sitting in a place almost as if I don’t truly want to get away from it. She recognized that I have spent the last couple of years in a world of my own making and revealing in the disease that I could blame it on. I have blamed everything in my world on a diagnosis, that while might be a correct name for the disease I have, doesn’t mark the person that I can be. I have become lazy in the last years and slowly, while my heart remained stagnant and overgrown with those lovely vines we often see. I am just now realizing that maybe I want to blossom into something more.
The first step in any journey is the recognizing of who and what you are today. You can’t change yourself if you don’t know yourself. But how do you see into a cloudy mirror? How do you finally wipe away the thin but powerful layer of grime covering that mirror to see who sits before it? How do you recognize the layers, the dead, the life, the whole, when you can’t see any of the pieces? And while I can hope that my therapist or any friend really can look at me and start to define who and what I am, the truth of the matter is that I am the only one who has to recognize the image in the mirror.
When our friends, doctors, relatives, spouses, claim to know who and what we are a danger emerges. For someone like me, for instance, the person that I am while standing in front of my best friend is not the person that stands in front of her own mother; even when my best friend and mother are in the same space. One of the many dangerous traits, for those who can’t understand who and what they are, is the ability to change faster than a chameleon in front of those we love, those we hate and those we pass in the supermarket. My ability to gain and actually lose characteristics, responses, facial expressions, religious ideologies, even actions is remarkable when one insists that each person within me stands side by side. My mother wouldn’t recognize my life with my friends anymore than my friends would understand my life with my family. I change to suit the person; always have. So who does that leave me to be? Am I only the person who exists within certain friendships? Am I only the person who exists when I am volunteering? Am I only the person who exists at that long Thanksgiving table?
I know the mirror in front of me belongs in some lost attic, in a castle on a hill. I know the mirror in front of me is so damaged that there is a possibility that I won’t be able to truly make sense of the person I am. So the next question has to be, do I spend my time trying to clean a thousand years worth of dirt off a mirror I have never looked into or do I simply began marching in another direction in the hope that what is seen will be felt? I don’t have the answer yet to this question.
Ultimately, the truth remains that I am tired of the person I have become. I am tired of pushing down what makes me secure so that others can find their own blanket. I am tired of blaming my disease for the reality of the life that I am living. I am exhausted from letting all the side effects, some which are created by medications and some which are created in my mind, to have such a hold on me that I can’t enjoy the most basic of pleasures.
I want to watch my children fly with only tears of happiness in my eyes; not sit in an auditorium scared that I am going to get sick and ruin everyone’s night. I want to see new places and take my children on adventures and not be scared that I won’t be able to find a healthy path towards that enjoyment. I want to get out of my head and learn that the happiness out there isn’t reserved for only those who aren’t diseased. I want to know what she knows. I want to know what he knows. I want to find a way to be just like everyone else.
We are taught early in life not to try and be like everyone else. And for years, whenever I answered that I wanted to be normal, most responses resembled, “What’s normal?” People like to cherish and celebrate individuality but they often assume that there is a certain pattern that exists among ordinary people. Most like to believe that those Facebook pictures are real. Most like to believe that projects can be successfully completed within a time frame. Most people like to believe that there is a definition for a good day and a definition for a bad day. Most people have to believe that what one can have, any can have. I, too, have to believe these things.
I have to find a way to not only look in that mirror, walk through that door, but live my life. I don’t need to live it fully or even in some replicated form of a celebrity. I don’t need extras in my life. I don’t need a better love than what I already get to enjoy. What I need is more basic than that. I need to know that when I wake up in the morning there is a possibility that I can define a good day. I need to know desperately that I can define a bad day. And I need them to be separated by more than an hour in a day; I need them to be so excruciating different that I can easily define them. I need to find my good day.
I imagine that finding a good day is subjective; I have never believed that my definition of a good day is like any others that I have known. But I am almost manic in this desire to find out if I could have a good day. Front to end. Hour one to hour twenty-four. I need to know if I can live a life without my health being so present that nothing else fits. I need to know if I can truly establish at least one thing that is mine; my joy, my happiness, my love. I need to know if there are ways to be better than what I have been assuming is all that I get. I need to know if I can grow, change, search and most of all find.
But do I start with that girl in the dirty mirror? Do I use that mirror to try to find out the truth of what I am, what I have become? Do I use that mirror to find a launch pad to what I could actually be? Do I use that mirror to define who I am?
Or do I instead look beyond the mirror to what might be? Do I go behind the image to see the nuts and bolts that are creating this person I so desperately want to change? Do I pretend that the mirror is an accurate version of who I am, or do I simply try to find my way without it?
I am not sure what the answer to these questions are. I don’t know how I am going to ultimately proceed. I don’t even know if I have the ability to do any of the things I am getting excited to learn about. I don’t know if I can find a new path or if I will forever chalk this long moment up to part and parcel of the disease I am trying to erase from my own definition of self. What I do know is the journey ahead of me, if I decided to take even that first step, is a long one. I know that if I can finally search, for the first time in more decades than I care to admit to living, I can change. What if I am destined to continue being nothing but exactly what I am? What if I am destined to live this life as so much less than what I could be? What if I finally lay down and allow the definition of this disease to create the final epithet on my grave?
Mirror or no, path or stagnation, the next months will either define me or show me how truly lazy and complacent I can be. I can either take this ride that seems to be like that beautiful wave every surfer dreams of or I can continue being the nothing that I have turned myself into. Each day will define my path and ultimately each day will determine if that person I hope that I am in the dirty mirror could become clear. It will take time and it will take a power I have never tried to yield. In my life, if Excalibur had been sitting in front of me, I probably would have walked right around it.