Facing One of 'Those Mornings' When the Emotions of Your Illness Hit You
I see myself, in slow motion, as I turn my head to the past. Hot, salty tears begin to streak down my empty cheeks. I see her… she’s so young and happy. She’s in love, another promotion slides her way as she climbs into her beloved sports car. She is so independent. So beautiful, this mother of two. Her auburn wavy hair coils around her Audrey Hepburn-like face that becomes luminous as the sun washes over her, her melted dark chocolate eyes are laughing, her body, toned and tanned… she is confident and graceful. I wish I was her.
Wait, oh yeah, I am her, the 20-years-older version of her… really? The reality of it slams me back to the present with a sickening thud. My eyes open against the morning. Oh no, it’s one of “those mornings.” I slump out of bed to the bathroom, while the pain and anguish are stuck to me like a rouge octopus. Ruby and Lulu, my two sweet kitties, twirl adoringly around my feet. Damn, I love them. I slink back to my bed, rumpled and grumpy. I slam my eyes shut against that way too sunshiny morning.
On “those mornings” I really hate that perfect world. The one that is so bright and full of hope… you know what I mean. The more my chronic illness and pain close off my world, the older I get, the more invisible I become. We all know this feeling is part of the invisible illness package with a big side of depression and/or anxiety. The kind that fractures my heart into a million pieces and I don’t have the energy to find them all… they are stuck between the physical pain and the emotional nightmare of having to live this life with so much uncertainty. Never knowing if I can do life today or not, taking into account all my spoons that are haphazardly strewn about the floor.
On most mornings, I can deal. If I get a whiff of one of “those mornings” coming on, I literally make myself be thankful for all that I do have: food, shelter, clothing. I go very basic as I try to fight off the oncoming landslide of emotion. Unfortunately, I don’t always get to my head fast enough. When I do, I try to champion my witty self. I envision my body as a sort of a mystical fishing net, hoping to catch any positive energy that might be randomly floating about. I know I’ll make it back. I always do, but the road on “those mornings” is full of jagged potholes which I inevitably fall into again and again. On “those mornings” I hear my neighborhood rise and shine, greeting each other with little waves that are big on happiness. I love where I live but on “those mornings” I could be in paradise and I’d still want to crawl back into my bed.
Those of us who live with invisible illnesses and depression really get this. Sharing your lifetime with a cantankerous old beast of an illness is no picnic. But here’s where the joy quietly seeps in. After I have grumped and frumped through the morning, I pour all the trash in my head out into the pages of my treasured journal. Eventually, my writing empties all the junk out of my head freeing up space for acceptance and peace. Kind of like a hot air balloon, slowly getting off the ground and into fresh air. The morning morphs from one of “those mornings” into just a morning.
It may not be a sensational morning, a shout-it-out-to-the-rooftops kind of morning, but it becomes a manageable morning where I return the affection of my kitties, wave back at my neighbors and actually brush my hair. I gaze at my face with empathy and say, “Hey you, it’s OK to let yourself sink every once in a while. We’re glad you’re back because you really are a kickass, beautiful woman warrior. Yep, you’ve been through hell and a few of those wrinkles tell the tale but girlfriend, do not lose sight of who you are: beautiful, broken, full of hard-won wisdom and a ginormous heart on top of it all.”
We do need to give ourselves permission to sink at times and not beat ourselves up for it. To allow yourself to sink sometimes does not mean you are “weak.” Actually, you are seriously courageous. And yes, we do need to be our own cheerleader, pom poms and all. It is hard to be sick every. darned. day. Life for us is not all pretty with matchy-poo bows and curly ribbon. We are all warriors that get “those mornings.” Gotta go in to find out, and when you do, like that hot air balloon, you’ll get lift off and you may even get all glowy and stuff. I promise, really I do, been there, done that. I know I will get another one of “those mornings,” but I’ll be back… because I am a warrior, a beautiful 60-year-old warrior.