So I had the stomach bug this weekend. My kids each had it last week and my husband had a taste of it as well. I was the final victim claimed. Best part? I got it Saturday, approximately one hour before all my friends were coming over to celebrate my birthday. My husband had spent hours putting this party together-not to mention spent a good bit of money on it as well. About 5:3opm, I realized what was going on. And from that point forward, I was as sick as I can ever remember being in my life.
So why post about the stomach bug under a label entitled ‘The year of challenging “I can’t”?
In November of 2013, almost a month after my twins turned one, I got my wisdom teeth taken out and suffered a terrible bacterial infection that put me in two different hospitals for over a week. I had two surgeries and ended up with drains installed in my face to remove the bacteria from my body. It was utterly horrible and represents a very dark time to me. I emerged from that experience, however, as a new person. I declared that 2014 would be the year of me challenging “I can’t”.
Let me explain.
Although I consider myself a tough person, someone who has dealt with a lot health-wise, when it’s all said and done, I’m kind of a baby. I enjoy being taken care of and doted on-something that is frowned upon by my family of tough, southern women. When people would ask me to run a 5k with them, I’d reply without a thought “oh, I can’t run more than a mile”. When someone asked me why I don’t cook more I would say “oh, I can’t cook, I just can’t”. It was an automatic response-something that was so inherent in me that I didn’t even think about what I was saying when I said it. When I finished the second surgery in 2013, and felt about as depressed as a person could, I decided that 2014 would be the year I changed-the year I found what I was capable of doing. When I wanted to try something new and felt the “I can’ts” coming up, I said “Why not?” instead. I began running long distances, I started cooking at home and I tried new things whenever they came my way. I did not allow myself to be a victim and I have to say that I felt more empowered and braver than I ever have in my life.
So why the info on the stomach bug?
Somewhere along the way, I lost that voice. I am still running and I am still cooking. But I am also allowing issues with my health to take ownership over who I am. I had something very sad and disappointing happen last fall (2014) and instead of pulling myself up and growing my proverbial balls, I sort of let it defeat me. I found myself sinking into the role of victim again. Whiner again. Needy me again. On Saturday, when I was in the throws of vomit-town, I fully embraced the feel sorry for myself role. My sister told me to buck up and to pull it together-to be tough for my family, and instead I wept like a baby on the floor. It’s not just the stomach bug that had me down. It’s the constant, never stopping neediness of my two year-old twins. It’s an overwhelming, never-ending exhaustion that encompasses my physical and mental being. It’s the fact that I defend my thesis in less than a month and I’m not nearly ready. It’s the fact that after all this school, after all these proclamations that “I am finally in the field I want to be in”, I have no prospect of a job-no idea of what I want to do. It’s the shame I feel around not being who I thought I would be at 32. And so as I sunk my head into the toilet for another round, I sobbed over all the things that have been building up inside me. I let myself be a victim.
March is half-way over. I feel like crap run over today-even two days out of vomit-town. It would be easy to flush 2015 down the toilet (see what I did there?) and focus on 2016 being my year of challenging “I can’t”. But then again, what better day than the day of your birth (tomorrow) to become the person you want to be-the person you know is in there. Because that’s the thing right? Deep down, I know that I am a tough motherfucker. It may seem like a breeze, the stuff I deal with, because it’s been so long. But it isn’t. Dealing with a chronic disease is harder than anyone will ever, ever understand. Everyday is a battle-everyday is another disagreement between you and your body. Everyday is another round of needles and pokes and blood and bruises and depression and doubt and fear. But I do it. I have done it for 21 years. 21 fucking years. So if that doesn’t prove that I have strength and guts and a fire inside of me, then I don’t know what will.
Here’s to my year.