Chronic Snarkopolist: The Tidal Wave
Hello my loves!
Thank you so much for your generous spirits and kind words! I’m completely smitten by you. This week I took time to reflect and sit around in my pj’s a great deal. OK FINE – I also played online a bit and sulked around. I’ve felt the great storm coming so I’ve taken some preventive measures. I got hooked up with physical therapists and started massage. I’m going to a new acupuncturist this week too! I’m on top of things BECAUSE I can feel the oppressive battle of overwhelm begin.
The only answer I have to this is to live my best life. If I can – volunteer. If I cannot – accept the grace of other people being kind to me. Compassion in all areas is the only answer I know. But I know that when you feel the tidal wave coming – HOLD ON- BRACE FOR IT – strap in – and don’t grab on to anyone else around you – because you will drag them under. The cushions under you can be used as a floatation device.
I also went to my new doctor and she yelled at me because I now live in small town Ohio where the old physical therapist told her I dropped the f-bomb and she got huffy and told me my language was not appropriate. So there’s that. How did she even know I went to a different PT and not to them? She wasn’t the prescribing doctor! Is this town THAT SMALL? Ugh. I made NO APOLOGY FOR MY LANGUAGE. I made none. BECAUSE I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO. FUCK THEM. Really. I told her so and she backed down because she realized that it was NONE of her business.
Meanwhile- I was beginning to hate life. HATE IT. Revile it. Poke the face of life with sharp sticks and taunt it – begging it to snap my up in its gaping maw. Fie- fie on you life.
I sat in my doctor’s office and looked at her – determined not to break. I said to her, “Chronic illness is like a tidal wave.” It was then that she looked at me. “You haven’t had time to come up for air yet?” She asks– just a few moments after paternalistically scolding me as if I am an unruly five year-old child.
“I am trying not to pull everyone down with me and remind myself that it will pass- it always does. And if it does not – it will take me and there is nothing I can do – like a tidal wave.”
I clench my jaw around the words. I’m doing my best. This is it. The tears want to come – I hold them back with my iron will. She hardly knows me. I MISS MY OLD DOCTORS. I miss my old city. I miss my cat. I miss everything about my old life, my health, my sanity, my abilities, my friends. I MISS MELISSA LIVING HER BEST LIFE WITHOUT MAKING FUSSES UNLESS SHE WANTS TO MAKE A FUSS. I miss being liked – because sick people are not well liked.
When was the last time anyone with a simple flu was easy to love? Amplify that by every waking moment of every single day and walk around feeling prickly and SMILE ANYWAY – choking on the knowledge that chronically ill people have to go the extra mile in EVERY RELATIONSHIP because WE are the harder people to love. We are the feared and worse, the invisible. HUG PEOPLE ANYWAY.
Chronic illness plays no favorites. It overwhelms us. And when it does – too often it comes with the sickness of our friends and family- who get sicker still. With financial hardship, creditors, mean spirited people, emotional pain, worry, clingy friends, self-sabotage, psychic vampires. ALL AT ONCE. It will hit and hit and hit – wave after wave.
People want love. We all do. Yet – for me when the tidal wave is breaking over my head – people don’t realize it. And I try so hard not to grab on to them and pull them under with me. Many times they react by running far away from me. This is painful – but it sends a powerful message to me that I am in RED ALERT- CRISIS MODE. I am master at my own illness – and I have no way of dealing with THE TIDAL WAVE EITHER. It takes us all by surprise every time.
No matter how good we are at dealing with our chronic illnesses – the TIDAL WAVE is always a surprise. It is a sneaky bastard. It comes with intensity and blindsides us.
When we reach out to hold on to someone – it feels as though we either bring them down with us – or worse, nothing is there because it is already gone in the storm. This is what sucks most about being chronically ill.
It is why I tell people to surround ourselves with strong support systems, and be kind to each other, get and give love where we can. Because it happens. IT HAPPENS TO THE BEST OF US. More than we want. And when it does we will do this on our own. Even when we are supported on all sides – The WORK of coming through it is OUR OWN.
It feels horrific. It is a darkness. I cannot tell you anything joyous or positive about it other than IT RECEDES. There is a wave and a crash and then it recedes. And we will breathe again. And life will stabilize. We will look around – angry perhaps, sad, frightened, feeling as though we have been mortally wounded. Life will have a clearly defined picture of where we are and where we must continue. It may not be the life we WANTED- but it will be OUR LIFE.
Again and again, I remind myself not to waste energy mourning what life I do not have but spend it investing it what I do have. I continually invest myself in what I can do NOW. It is hard not to dream too much or look too much in the past. Being chronically ill is a constant reminder that LOSS will happen.
All life is loss. It is a reminder that we are precious – life is precious. What we do and say is IMPORTANT. Every little thing matters. On my most horrific nights last week I got two important beautiful phone calls from people WHO MATTER to me. They have no idea how much. I tried to tell them – but they have NO IDEA. They were simply being FRIENDS.
People matter. We matter. We can hold on through the tidal waves when the times are difficult. Sometimes there are no explanations for the tragedies or losses we endure. There are no reasons why we go through this shit. We just do. It is NOT to makes us better people or give us strength. IT JUST IS. It is like nature – rain or sun or snow, a storm. No one looks up and questions the clouds unless they are not there for more than a season. Same thing with our health.
I have stopped trying to find meaning in all of this and decided to MAKE MY OWN MEANING. And when that fails – and it often does – I have decided to let other people’s kindness be enough. There is compassion and kindness. And sometimes there is just holding on until it passes – asking for help when we need it. Asking for a hug – giving a hug. Picking up a phone and being the person on the other end of the line when someone most needs it.
The tidal wave comes during chronic illness. Hospitalizations, financial devastation, breakups, life changes, moves, crisis, death, the stuff of life, family illness, friendships end, our own health deteriorates. Waves crash- ruining everything, leaving us to clean up – cry over it, mourn more losses. And later move on when we are able.
What about you? Have you experienced the tidal wave? How do you handle it? Can you prepare? Are you ever ready for it? What does it look like when it is over? What is life like before and after? Tell me how you handle it. I want to know! How do you deal with resulting changes. What are your tidal wave strategies and support techniques?
I’ll see you same place next week! Kiss kiss!