Monday, July 18, 2016

Resentment and Untouchable Dreams

Beach Day: February 19th, 2016

In my latest posts, I've been exploring the emotions that have surfaced as I go from illness to wellness. In addition to trying to re-frame what it means to rest, I acknowledged that I'm still chronically ill (and not going to work!).

In moments of rage last week, I screamed: 

I RESENT the illness.

I RESENT the illness.

I've been doing this for 18 years and I am SO done with this. I just want to be all better and get on with my life.

When I blurted out these words, I shocked myself. I had no idea that I felt anything but joy around my improving health. I felt confused that I would be resentful when I am doing so well compared to anything I have known for 18 years.

How ungrateful of me not to just relish in what I have.

I'm not sure anything I'm feeling is particularly unusual. Even those of us who are healthy want it all and we want it all NOW. The reality for everyone is that we can't ever have it all. Not all at one time.

But there's still a part of us that is screaming: "Wahhhhhh! Why not?!"

What is that I want so badly? Why is it that I am so resentful of my illness now, when before that was not a word that I used?

When I was at acupuncture last week, a nurse practitioner student was shadowing my acupuncturist. I looked at her and thought: "You have the life I wanted. That was supposed to be my life."

When I got home I cried.

When I saw that young woman with two children, who was going back to school to become a nurse practitioner after having been a nurse for about five years, I felt the sting of how much the illness is still a part of my life, how much it has taken away from me, how much is still out of reach, and how much I'm ready to stop having so many limitations on my dreams.

Even Facebook has become increasingly difficult for me lately. A friend posted a photo of her family in front of their new house. From Facebook-land it was the picture perfect family with the picture perfect children and the picture perfect home.

I will never ever have that life.

That life (which I know in my head is not picture perfect) will never be mine.

My life, however it unfolds and even with my improving health, will always require compromises and different decisions than someone who is 1. healthy and 2. hasn't missed 18 years of the most important years of becoming an adult.

Live Horseshoe Crab!

The dreams are becoming more possible. But they are still untouchable. 

That makes me sad and resentful.

When I was very sick, I didn't have any expectations of driving a car, owning a car, falling in love, of possibly getting married, and even of having or adopting a child. When there are no expectations, there is so much less room for disappointment.

As soon as we begin to have expectations, the opportunity to be disappointed sneaks in.

Mom used her sociology background to give me the following analogy: in poor countries, people have very little expectations because of how bad things are. But when things begin to change, the change doesn't happen fast enough. Expectations rise. Discontent rises. People want more change and they want it faster. They want it NOW. 

My expectations of myself and of life are increasing more quickly than my actual reality. 

 I want everything. And I want it now.

And guess what? 

I can't have it.

There comes that "Waaahhhh" again.

I can never get those 18 years back.

And my life is still constrained in many many ways.

My life will never be a big, busy, bustling one. My dreams of marriage, career AND family will always remain untouchable.

What's most difficult now is that those dreams feel *almost* touchable, which is almost more difficult than having them be completely unrealistic.

Whatever choices I make moving forward and whatever dreams I am able to realize, they will be different from those of a healthy person. They will require a lot more compromise and a lot more sacrifice than if I was healthy.

And as my health improves, it's important to remember that I'm already 40. I'm facing major life changes and choices that most of us do gradually over a period of many years of growing up and becoming adults.

I'm looking at having to make decisions--like those about marriage and a child--at warp speed.

This is very stressful and anxiety provoking.

The timeline to have a career or a baby or other life dreams has closing doors and ticking clocks, whether I like it or not.

I know that so many dreams I never imagined would be possible are opening up to me. I know that I will find a way to make my life meaningful even if I cannot have the dreams I want so much.

But that doesn't mean it will be easy or that I will like the choices that have been taken from me.

It doesn't mean I won't scream and yell and cry about what has been taken from me, even in light of what has been given to me.

I'm sad that as time goes by more dreams are lost, most are still untouchable, and so many decisions have to be made more quickly than if I was healthy.

I am truly grieving what those 18 years took away from me. I resent that I'm still sick. I am sad for those unrealized dreams and that person who never got her dreams.




Ellen said...

I've been writing a blog post that is about so many of the exact same things. I relate. Xoxo

Marjie said...

I am so heartbroken for you. with these changes comes even more difficult choices. it's OK to feel resentment AND be thankful. It's OK to be angry AND happy. angry at what you've lost these past 18 years and happy how far you've come. you're human. it's OK to let yourself feel both. to grieve for what you lost, and to feel blessed for what you've gained. I am so sorry you're in so much pain.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful and thoughtful post! There is a time of mourning that can appear at different times during a chronic illness. You mourn your healthy self, the self that once was. You mourn your dreams and the life that you wanted and planned for yourself. The grieving process is difficult yet necessary, and we must accept it, no matter how difficult it is. There is also a time for improved health, new energy that can be used in various ways, new opportunities, new experiences and new joy. We make the best of what's given to us. There are people who do "have it all", the "all" that can last a short while or a lifetime. It's OK to feel envious of those people as long as the envy doesn't become an obsession or a major focus of your days. The most important thing is to focus on "right now." You have been blessed with improved health, and it's a great gift. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

emily said...

Your comments are absolutely beautiful and I appreciate them so much. I feel like I should know who is leaving this comments anonymously but I don't. Do I know you? I would love to know who it is that is writing such beautiful words! Thank you for this comment...so perfectly stated and validating.