I've always been a pusher. Assertive. Goal oriented. Ambitious. Determined to achieve greatness, to help the masses, to be like Oprah, but with art instead of tv. I also want to be rich and skinny and as long as I keep pushing, I'll get all the things I want right? Because I'm a dreamer AND a do-er. Right? I do everything in my power to get there, and the results will follow. Right?
Well, I guess this must be one of those handy and super enjoyable processes of learning a god damn life lesson. Because the answer is not always "right!" like we millennials have all been spoon-fed since birth... "You can do anything you set your mind to!" "If you can dream it, you can do it!" "Hard work pays!" "Practice makes perfect!"
Sometimes, yeah, that's how it works. But sometimes, you put your entire being into something and give it your all, and you don't get the results you wanted, the results you worked so hard for. But the rules say that's not how it should happen! So then.. is it MY fault that I didn't win? Did I not try hard enough? Am I weak? Is something wrong with me? Am I doing things wrong?
No, dude! Sometimes things are really and truly out of your control. *GASP*. I said it.. we can't take credit for everything "good", but we also can't blame ourselves for everything "bad." So maybe, just maybe, we can cut ourselves some slack.
My therapist has been telling me to slow down for months. I took some naps. But I don't think I really "got" it. See, I've been doing everything right for a really long time. Pushing myself as hard as I could. And where has it gotten me? Not to my goals, I can tell you that. In fact, I'm willing to bet that all this pushing hasn't been helping my health.
Yes, I've made progress, but for all my blood, sweat, and copious amounts of tears, I'm nowhere close to where I want to be. I've had issues with chronic fatigue for as long as I can remember, and earlier this year finally got some scientific validation for what I felt in my body. Very very long story short, after western medicine, chinese medicine, and now energy medicine, 5 million appointments, thousands of dollars, dozens of prescriptions, blood tests, weekly IV injections, check ups and countless disappointments, I *STILL* don't feel better. What the fuck, right? I did EVERYTHING possible, I adhered to all the diets, I took every advice, I went above and beyond. And I'm STILL here.. sleeping 12 hours a day, having only enough energy to work 3 hours a day *just* making ends meet, 20+lbs more than I'd care to be, with the acne I had in high school. After putting in the work and not getting my just desserts... I'd never felt more disappointed, frustrated, depressed.
At my breaking point last week, I texted my therapist. Her reply:
You need to find a way to be nice to yourself and maybe not hold yourself to such high expectations. It is not about not living your fullest- it is about accepting that because of your autoimmune illness, that the way you live your life might look different; same as would be for someone else who is vision impaired or has lost a limb- they like you have to find ways to compensate differently, but it doesn't make them less- they just learn new ways of doing things and they set different expectations.
That message did not make me feel good, but it did feel true. I sat with the idea. It felt like giving up, but it also felt incredibly light. A relief. Was it really okay ok to let up on myself? Wouldn't that make me a quitter? To quit pushing.. that makes me a quitter, right? Wrong again, my friend. I have a deep, peaceful feeling that quitting could be the best thing you ever do for yourself and for the people you aim to serve.
So, I quit. I'm not going to push any more. I trust myself to not fall off the wagon.. whatever shit/limitations I've got going on right now, I'm done expecting for it to be temporary and bend to my will. I am not going to give up trying to heal, but I surrender to where i am. I accept the possibility that my condition/limitations may not improve. It feels really good to stop pretending I'm "normal", to allow those who love me to express that love with support and help, knowing/trusting that I will give back/return the love as best I can, when I can. Allowing myself the space and time I need does not make me lazy or selfish. It gives me integrity. I accept me, even though it's not who i planned on being. she is still beautiful, still inspiring, creative, funny, supportive, innovative, enough.
After all, as my first therapist would say: we are human beings, not human doings. Ugh, did I just learn to love *ALL* of me? Barf.
Anyway, here's to naps. And weed.