Here is a list of actual questions I have been asked this week:
How are you feeling?
How do you do it?
How do you live with all your... stuff?
How are you still standing?
Here are the answers:
I'm fine. Physically, I am tired, but I am fine. (It seems that tired is the new normal, so I should probably stop talking about it. But I live in hope that I won't always be this tired - and I live in fear that people will forget that I'm tired if I stop talking about it, and expect me to do stuff like hand out water at a marathon (you'd better know I wouldn't be one of the runners!) or clean the church or something - so I can't help but mention it every once in a while, just to keep myself un-involved in local service projects.) Emotionally, I am also, as luck would have it, a little bit tired, but I am fine, there, too. The reality is, I have much (MUCH!) more emotional strength and stamina than I have physical, and for that, I am very (VERY!) grateful. I can't imagine living a life where I had the physical wherewithal to do a million and one things, but didn't have the emotional ability to keep going. I'll take the flip side of that any day, thanks. (Which is lucky, since that's what I have.)
I just do it. We all do. We do what we have to do. We live with what we have to live with. ... What I have to live with is more public than what a lot of my friends/family live with (esp since I... uh... blog about it on a regular basis). A history of cancer, and the possibility of new growth is scary, I know. Cancer is an ugly word. I get that. I do. ... But the reality is, we all have something (and most of us have many things) that we just have to live with. This is what I live with, and how I do that is by getting up every morning, day after day, determined to not let my creaky body dictate how I'm going to feel, and who I'm going to be.
This is where my being a stubborn mule of a woman has served me well: I refuse to let my ... uh ... stuff define me. I am, by nature, a control freak. Not in the way that I feel I need to control anyone else (I promise that I'm not still single at 38 because I have tried to control every man who's ever been in my life - it has a lot more to do with the facts that I am particular about grammar/sentence structure and do not wash my face at night before I go to bed), but I am a girl who likes to have a plan. I like order and stability. I like things to make sense, and for things to be done in the proper order. In those ways, I am a control freak. ... Here's what I have learned in the last few years: I have no actual control in my life. I mean, I have some input. I get to make choices. It's not like I think I am on a date with destiny and there's nothing I can do but go along for the ride in life... But the reality is most of the choices that I get to make are in how I'm going to react to circumstances that are beyond my own personal control. Assuming my friend who asked about my "stuff" was asking about my health, the only answer I have is that I live with it, because I want to live. That is, I want to truly live, not just be alive. The one choice I have had in all of this has been how I choose to react emotionally to what has happened physically. ... Call me crazy, but I'm not about to sell the one solid choice I have had down the river and let this beat me, emotionally. Life is hard. (It's also awesome, but it can be hard. I'm just keepin' it real.) I believe in controlling what I can control, and I can control my ability to be happy in my life. I choose to be happy. It's an active choice, and I firmly believe that that choice is what has given me the ability to handle stuff.
Look closely, and I'm pretty sure you'll see that I'm not actually standing. I'm leaning against a wall, a counter, a desk, a table, a podium, a door frame, a copier or a car. I also lean on other people, and I lean on the Lord. I lean, literally, and I lean figuratively/spiritually. Between objects that are sturdy enough to support my physical weight and the incredible people and God in my life who love me and are strong enough to hold my emotional weight, I am able to make it look like I have the physical strength to do this. I have help. A lot of help. That is how I am (both figuratively and literally) "still standing".
I love it when people ask me questions, specifically questions about my health and the waiting game that I am (once again) playing in my life, because it gives me an opportunity to think and feel my way through an answer.
Again, I'm so grateful for the clarity that having had poor health has given me. I love that my relationships with the Lord and the key players in my life have deepened. I'm so incredibly grateful for the peace that I feel in my life now that I've learned to (mostly) let go of trying to control things that are beyond my control. I love all of the ... well ... love that I feel, all the time, from and for so very many people. I may have had a bad run of health in the past few years, but my life is more awesome than it ever has been (and it's always been pretty great). George Bailey is SO not the only one out there who's had a wonderful life. Thank you, all, for having been part of mine.