Today is the first day of the rest of my life.
I am going to come right out and say that I have been struggling. Recovery from my tonsillectomy was much more difficult than I had imagined it would be. Progress was extremely slow-moving and in very small increments. I had expected recovery to progress quicker and in larger increments.
I had great difficulty in being patient. Of course, I wanted to feel better right away. It was excruciating to allow myself to just be where I was – in my recovery and in a broader sense.
It has felt like I have struggled my entire life. Never seeming to “get” what I had expected. Always looking ahead to where I wanted to be. And always letting pieces of the past seep into where I currently was.
In many ways, it was easier that way. By always living in the past and the future I didn’t have to confront and deal with what was happening in the present. Avoidance is one of the oldest tricks of continued struggling.
For the past two weeks I have been in an outpatient hospitalization program. Perhaps in previous times I would feel embarrassed or ashamed by this admittance but, as I have grown wiser and gotten further in my self-progress, I can view this only in a positive light.
I knew that I was struggling and heading into a very dark place. I also knew where, historically, that could take me and it isn’t a place I’d ever like to visit again. I referred myself to the program, planning my attendance around a time of increased struggle for myself (my father’s second birthday since he passed away).
I recognized that I was in a place where I needed help – and I sought it out. Asking for help is one of the most difficult things any of us can do. We often view it as admitting weakness and exposing vulnerabilities. And yes, often when we are in a place of struggling we are vulnerable but asking for help is never weak. In fact, it’s one of the strongest things we can do. To identify that we are in a bad place and to ask/receive help is an incredibly mature and amazing thing to do.
I truly try to do the best that I can with the knowledge and resources (tools) I presently have. Most often my struggling isn’t because I’m not “trying hard enough”. It’s because I need additional knowledge and resources to help me more forward.
Sometimes my struggling isn’t because I don’t have the knowledge and resources that I need or because I’m not trying my best. Sometimes, when we are in a dark place, we can’t see the tools that we possess. It’s difficult to see anything in the darkness. Seeking out help can be a way to “turn on the light” and allow us to recognize and use the tools we had all along.
Life isn’t easy. Keeping constant momentum and living in the present moment isn’t easy either.
We will struggle. We will get caught up in the past and all the “should have, could have, would have” thinking. We will get caught up in the future and worry about what will be. We will face tragedies and heartaches and losses and disappointments. We will work to move forward a step, only to be unexpectantly forced three steps backward.
Sometimes we will be able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue forward. Sometimes we will realize that we are unable to do so and, if we can find the courage, we will ask for help.
I am beginning to accept myself, who I am, and the life that I currently have.
I could spend every second of every day wishing to be things that I am not. Wishing that I didn’t have chronic, life-long illnesses. Wishing for a level playing field. Wishing things happened differently in the past… All that wishing won’t change a thing. I am who I am. I have the body I have and the mind I have.
I have the illnesses I have as well. And fighting against them will never propel me forward nor allow me to become the person I would like to be. I could be in a perpetual state of conflict and anger and darkness, fighting against forces that I have no ability to change.
I ask for help because when I’m in a place of darkness, of struggling, I cannot see any other way than to fight or to submit to the darkness. These past two weeks while I was in the outpatient hospitalization program, a light was shone on me. It was my choice to use that light and allow myself the opportunities to create my own light.
This is who I am. This is what I have. If I want anything to change I have to make that choice. And I am.
It’s quite likely that I will need help again, but I will view it not as a setback or a weakness but instead as an opportunity to grow stronger, to learn more and to make the choice to continue to work on improving myself and my ability to move forward.
If you or someone you know is in an emotional distress or suicidal crisis – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
If you are concerned about your own alcohol or other drug use or that of someone you care about – the NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) hotline 1.800.NCA.CALL (622-2255)
Free. Safe. Confidential. 24 Hours. 7 Days. – RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) National Sexual Assault Hotline 1.800.656.HOPE
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder – the National Eating Disorders Association information line 1.800.931.2237
If you have questions about or are affected by serious mental illness – the NAMI (National Association on Mental Illness) information help line 1.800.950.NAMI (6264)