Monday, March 11, 2013

Smile and Wave

Do you remember the song Smile and Wave by the Headstones? I thought about it after visiting with some friends a while back. I know this sounds odd, but stay with me...

I was already tired when they came over, but we really enjoy their company so I didn't want to cut their visit short. After about an hour of talking and laughing it happened. It started off subtly but suddenly it was like I walked in to a brick wall. My fatigue and pain spiked and almost caught my breath. But, I continued to talk and laugh and no one was the wiser. They even commented at how much better I looked! My husband could probably tell though. He recognizes the signs - most of the time.

I am becoming more adept at hiding my pain and fatigue in certain situations. As the song goes -
I smile and wave
Another part of the song talks about this couple who -
"Together they have built a world, a lot of it is real. And we are here to ease them through the parts they can't conceal."

Are you trying to conceal your world?

Just as I try to conceal my bad days from my husband and friends, what kind of a world am I building for myself? While I certainly don't condone moaning and complaining to anyone who will listen, we can go too far the other way. Living in denial is not the same as being positive. I know people who are going through awful things, but they remain positive. They are not in denial about their situation, but they are choosing not to make it the focus of their life. They are doing whatever they can to help themselves and staying optimistic through it all. However, being in denial means you are ignoring a problem to your detriment and maybe to the detriment of those around you. I can push through my pain and fatigue and pretend I'm fine, but I will pay for it later and that affects those around me as well.

Truthful, hopeful and (yes) thankful

I admit that I have not been very positive through most of my pain and fatigue journey. I spent the first two years in denial and doctor chasing instead of accepting my doctor's diagnosis and getting proper treatment. I am pretty sure I did myself more harm than good. I was terrified of the pain and the impact it was having on my life. I wish I could say that my attitude is dramatically different now, but then I would be in denial.

One of the challenges with chronic illness is that it seems to be ever changing! My symptoms change daily and sometimes hourly. Just when I had victory of my fear of the pain, I was slammed with chronic fatigue and back in to the fear and denial loop. I am still learning how to be truthful about my struggles without slipping in to victim mode. It has been two years, but I'm finally getting to the place where the fatigue doesn't terrify me. I am learning to be hopeful.

I am also learning to be thankful. No, I haven't lost my mind (not yet anyway). Once I was able to admit that I was in victim mode, I started taking action. My faith has been my cornerstone and has allowed me to get to a place of thankfulness. These past five years have made me a better person and deepened my faith.  Another serendipitous benefit has been that I am learning to -
find joy in the smallest things!

Playing with my cats, a moment of pain relief, the sun shining on the hillside, holding hands with my husband, even doing my nails - these things and more have become incredibly important to me! I know that I am finding joy in things I may not have even noticed before. But, it's a choice. Some days, I have to really try hard to find it, but I do my best to make sure I find something that brings me joy every single day, even if just for a few minutes. It is in those minutes where I forget about my pain and fatigue and simply enjoy the joy!

What Brings You Joy?


What things are happening in your world right now bring you joy? Will you will share them with us? Who knows, maybe your joy can bring joy to someone else.

Yours in health and joy,