“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King
Disappointments have been intensely magnified over the past few months; they are lurking everywhere. I have waited so long to hear good news that my expectations following good news can be too high. I complained about my head being too muddled to process discussions and write eloquently and concisely. Now that I have run out of pain medications until my first appointment with a pain management specialist in Houston on Oct. 19th, I cannot even begin assignments because I simply cannot overcome the pain. And suddenly I am reminded of a reading for class that made me sob.
I cry a lot these days. I shed tears in front of an entire class when one of our readings discussed the motivations of safety (pain). I cried today listening to a rap song. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, but I can’t help but wonder how I got to this strange, depressing, and sometimes exhilarating-beyond-belief world.
“Or for anyone who’s been through shit in their lives ‘Til they sit and they cry at night wishin’ they’d die ‘Til they throw on a rap record and they sit, and they vibe” – Eminem, “Sing for the Moment“
After ten months, I was finally given doctor’s approval to take a shower again. I imagined this glorious experience, where washing my hair would suddenly become so much easier. Unfortunately, it caused a flare-up of the CRPS and seems to have become a pattern. This is simply not the way life was supposed to be…but is it ever?
I live two separate worlds, and there are times all I want is to merge them. In public, I expend all of my energy assuring others that life is better. I have learned life lessons beyond any expectation. I’ve learned how un-wheelchair friendly some places of businesses are, including a major casino in Las Vegas. I have learned to re-frame how I think about the environment around me and the way in which I complain about an aspect of life because I have experienced the devastation that can be caused by a poorly timed complaint by a stranger. I thought I knew compassion before last December, but I learned that I have so much more to grow. But by the time I return home, I cannot muster any further positivity. I am not certain my husband has ever had the opportunity to hear me discuss the positives because I need someone who loves me unconditionally, no matter how irrational my feelings may be, no matter how dark my thoughts can be, to listen – not necessarily to know what to say but to simply listen. At home I crawl into bed and just cry. I cut my husband off the moment he tries to encourage me because by this point I simply feel as if I no longer have the strength to succeed at all I do.
Strength. It’s the one attribute I never saw in myself…until I look back at this past year and those years that I spent with my mother after her cancer diagnosis. I’ll never forget the smell of hospitals or waking at all hours of the night to change my mother’s IVs and then to turn around and do the same for myself in recent months. More than anything, I’ll never forget everyone who helped me be strong from my supportive family, to a few loving doctors, to the professors that offered me the opportunities I needed to continue to succeed no matter how sick I was, to my supervisor who continually fought me to stay off of work as long as the university would allow, and to my friends who remind me that these hardships did not change the person I have always been.
It has been the disappointments in life that have made me realize the strength that has always laid within. I have realized that these hardships we face, the ones we pray never come to existence, they bring out the best and the worst in us. It is up to us to choose which will take precedence. It is indescribably more difficult to choose the best, to choose optimism, to choose to believe that it will get better and there are important life lessons lurking within these hardships. We may not understand why they come into our lives, but they are not setbacks. They are opportunities to gain strength and understanding, to gain compassion. I will always question why I had to choose the surgery that has resulted in so many complications, but I am incredibly stronger than I ever believed.
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and fear. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.” – August Wilson