I was watching a TV show the other day, one of the main characters had recently had a heart attack and his partner was hovering around him and driving him a little crazy. So he asked someone to take his partner to lunch so that he could have one day to himself before he went back to work. He spent the day cooking a meal for his partner, to celebrate that the worrying was over.
I was in tears watching the scene as he described that the heart attack and surgery were over and it was time to put the worry away and live life again. After the episode finished, I cried a lot. I started to ask myself why?
Food is a big trigger for me, feeling uncomfortable eating out, being wary of trying "new" foods again, and no longer feeling a passion for food or even eating. I grew up in a family where food was associated with celebrations, with gathering, with connection, significance and because of that I learned to cook. It is an extremely valuable skill when you get to change everything about how you eat and approach food. It is also a double edged sword, because the experimentation, part of the creation process has been stifled. I have limited ingredients and sometimes the very idea of trying or changing makes me feel sick.
So what happened? What happened to the girl that sat in that doctor's office and said "I can do this." That listened to cautions, that did my own research, that talked to eastern doctors and was excited about having the ability to take control over my health again. The one that was perfectly willing to accept that I had to take a break from teaching, of volunteering, that I was tired and exhausted most of the time. The one that was determined to "beat" this illness, to be in that category of "cured."
I am not sure, she grew frustrated, impatient and finally started to realize that there was no going "back." She made plans and most of the time canceled them, she stopped seeing the choices I was making as a benefit and it started to feel like a prison. It became harder and harder to relate to people, I was focused on the hours of exercises, grocery shopping, farmer's markets, and food preparation. My calendar was filled with medical related appointments and I longed to have a respite from being "sick." I felt horrible talking to people, everyone had their own suggestions on what would "work." I felt ashamed of being sick, like it was a mark of failure on my part, and I did not know how to communicate.
I am still determined, I am still determined to figure out how to take care of myself. Not to fight this disease, to figure out how to connect again. I want to put the worry away, I know things that help, I know things that make it worse and it is going to be a long journey to expand and grow with this illness.
I continuously think of myself as lucky and blessed that I have the resources and support that I have on this journey, that I know so many people that are currently or have gone through worse. I may not be willing to drink orange juice but I can still smell oranges. Honestly there are days that I want to stop, there are days I wish I didn't spend five hours doing stretches and exercises just to be able to get the pain to a level where I can breathe. I still get up on those days, I still continue to move and learn and some days I take long naps in the afternoon.
It is time to put the worry down, and move forward. It is time to climb the mountain instead of carrying it. It is time to figure out how to make food enjoyable and part of the celebration that is my life. Because no matter how bland the diet, or repetitive there is no reason for me to put myself in a prison.
Question of the day: What is your favorite food?