About a week ago a friend came over to drop off her daughter for a play-date with my daughter. She remarked that the me in real life doesn’t seem like the me she reads about on the blog, and that she always kind of expects to see a haggard sickly person looking super sick, but instead I just seem like regular me. I told her that was interesting based on some recent conversations I had been having with my kids (who see things behind the scenes) about how devastated they are about how sickly I actually am on a regular basis. It was also worth noting that, when this friend sees me, I am obviously up and around, rather than laying in bed having a bad day. But it was somewhat encouraging too, that at least when I am up and around I am doing maybe better than I think I am.
So, it was good to have this in my mind when, a few days ago, I woke up yet again, to such crippling nausea I could barely stand it. I literally just laid in bed and begged God, “Please, don’t give me another one of these days. I really can’t manage. I know you think I can, but I can’t. I just can’t do this again. You have to take this away. I can’t stand this for another day. I’m at the end of my rope with feeling like this. I’m out of coping strategies. I really can’t feel this way any more…” And on and on it went…
I had just had a long conversation with one of my children about how we don’t get to choose our challenges, but that there is always wisdom in them, even if we can’t see it at the time. I told her that even when I feel awful (a majority of the time), I know intellectually that this is my lot in life for now, so there is no purpose in fighting it. I told her the following:
Let’s say you are supposed to go on a skiing trip with your friends and you break your leg the day before. You have to lay on the couch in a huge cast with your leg propped up, while they all go on the trip that you were so much looking forward to. You could spend the weekend imagining them having so much fun on the slopes without you. You could picture them in your mind drinking hot cocoa around the fire, and wonder every minute what they are doing that you are missing out on. Or you can realize that the ski trip isn’t your life right now. You can try to make the best plan you can for what is your life. So you can have your parents get you yummy snacks and rent you your favorite movies and get you some great books from the library. Maybe you even invite over some friends who didn’t go on the ski trip to hang out with you. Those 48 hours pass either way- the only question is whether they pass in mourning what you don’t have or enjoying what you have left.
But. Here I was in bed hating my lot in life. I was just so done with feeling ill. Pain I find mostly manageable, even when it’s debilitating, but nausea and/or dizziness are so much harder for me. they are so much harder to distract from. As a consequence, I spend lots of time in bed. My house suffers, *h suffers, and my kids suffer.
And yet. I have times where I can get dressed and apparently seem pretty normal to the outside world. *h and I went to an appointment last week and I was so nauseated by the time we arrived (the place is about 5 minutes away from our house, but I wasn’t feeling great when we left) that I went straight to the bathroom to throw up. When I walked into the actual office (next door to the bathroom. Of course.), the man asked with concern, “Um, do you need to reschedule?” And *h just kind of laughed and said, “No, it’s fine. She does this all the time…” The guy was a little incredulous and we had to remember that it isn’t a normal thing for people to just go around throwing up all the time. But I really did feel better enough to have the appointment…
So, this is my life, Charlie Brown.
In order to eke out a life, I need to push past feeling cruddy to get things done, but I also need to spend most of my time in bed. In order to have the energy to do the bare minimum for my family, I need to say no to most extra things, and that’s not easy when I look okay to people on the outside. In other words, in order to do anything, I mostly do nothing- or at least I feel like that’s how it looks a lot of the time.
One of my daughters was very very sad the other night. “What if you NEVER get better?” she wanted to know. So I said, “You’re right, that’s hard. But what if this is as good as it gets? Let’s say I’m as well as I will ever be right this minute. There is still a lot I can do: I can talk to you, cook for you, interact with you, love you, support you, give you direction, and be here for you from my bed unless I am super super sick. There are lots of ways it could be worse than it is. So if you only have 50% of the mother you would wish for, can you enjoy the 50%? I may not be a ski trip, but maybe I can be your favorite movie and an awesome candy bar…”
I told her what I believe to be absolutely true: that God always answers our prayers, but sometimes the answer is “Not yet.”
And for right now, that’s the best I can do.