Life, Love, Personal Development

Of Gratitude and Promises

 

 

Yesterday was a huge day for me — not just for the launch of the Kickstarter fundraising campaign as I pursue a dream of publishing my book, but also because I’ve managed to let go of a fear I’ve held onto for almost all of my life: A fear that I was never good enough, a fear that I was never worthy of anything at all…

I believed that once.

I could go on and try to figure out why that is and explain how I understand just how messed up and damaging that way of thinking is. I could tell you how that is slowly beginning to change as I begin to change — as I heal from this illness in both body and spirit and as I imagine a future that maybe doesn’t have to reside only in dreams.

I could promise you that I’m learning — that I’m beginning to see that we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished and who we are and what we’ve worked so hard for while still remaining humble and modest and recognizing those who have guided us along the way.

I could tell you how I’m starting to believe in myself and how I can finally begin to accept that love and support that is so graciously offered when for so long I believed I was so undeserving of it. When even now I question myself and my worth, but never your friendship.

I could list all the ways I’m grateful for you; I could try to write of all the gratitude that fills my heart when I think of every road you’ve been down with me — every fall of tears, every bout of fear and uncertainty, every happiness, and every smile.

I could try.

But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express just how genuine these words are and just how deep that gratitude goes.

Instead, I’ll leave — for now — with something that encompasses all of these things and so much more, that overwhelms my heart and keeps me holding to this present and hoping for the future, something that binds my love to you…

Thank you for believing in me.

 

 

Career Development, Chronicles, Life, Personal Development

Dream Until Your Dreams Come True

Dream on…
Dream until your dreams come true.
-Aerosmith, “Dream On”

 

 

I cried every single day when I was first diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Every. Single. Day.

Some of the tears were those of relief at finally being able to put a name to this disease — this enemy — that has invaded my body over the course of 15+ years. Some of the tears were those of fear in knowing how long and difficult a road to recovery this would be — the herx reactions alone, that necessary evil wherein the antibiotics kill off the germ, then the die-off releases toxins that make you feel worse before you get better, would be a struggle in and of itself.

How can I get through that? I asked myself. How can I possibly survive feeling worse than I already do?

But I did survive. Somehow, it got worse and somehow, I survived.

During the worst of  it, I slept 18 hours a day, barely able to lift my head from the pillow long enough to glance at the clock and see that another couple of hours had blessedly passed. The pain traveled into my legs making it difficult to walk, even difficult to lay still, so that when sleep did come, it was a welcomed relief.

I was unable to go to work, unable to socialize, barely able to leave my house except for doctor’s visits and stays with my parents so they could take care of me when I was unable to take care of myself.

It was easy to cry, to fall into that depression, that despair. It was the source of most of those tears as I thought I was about to lose everything I’d worked so hard for. I could see it slipping through my fingers– every tomorrow seemed questionable, and what was once a bright future, so close at hand, now seemed dark and empty.

I began to wonder if I even had a future at all.

In these darkest moments of doubt, I searched for hope and found the unconditional love and devotion of my family, I found the whispers of support and cheers of encouragement from dear friends, and I found grace in a dog who has saved my life as much as I may have saved his.

These were my reasons for being, for fighting.

But it was then, on one nondescript morning, that I found my future.

I found my strength, I found my spirit, I found my dream, waiting and beckoning, giving me a reason to push through the pain and fog and fatigue and keep on with this recovery.

Back in February and March, before the symptoms sent me into a fast decline, I had made great strides in making a lifelong dream become a reality. I fought to keep this dream alive even as spring emerged and my health worsened. Then, for months as I sought a diagnosis and began treatment, my symptoms intensifying with the herx reactions and the fatigue, fog, and pain barely tolerable, I set that dream aside, forgotten.

Until that morning. That morning when I woke up in pain, barely able to walk, and instead of watching another movie or reading another book, I pulled my computer onto my lap and began to write, began to plan.

I began to dream again.

I haven’t stopped since.

The original goal was to push this project through and launch in the summer, and maybe I could have continued to pursue it through this disability, this disease, but my health became more of a concern and the timing never seemed right. I trust my intuition, and intuition said to wait, heal, dream a little while longer…

Little did I know how  much I needed this project to remain incomplete through the worst of this summer. Little did I know that it would be this dream that would awaken my spirit and bring me back to life again.

Little did I know how this dream would give me a purpose, a reason to look forward to every new tomorrow.

When you hold onto and begin to pursue a dream, it means you have a future in mind. And when you’re battling for your life, fighting a disease that seems to strip you of that future, you find whatever you can in order to hold onto that promise of something better, of another tomorrow, so that it remains real, so that it stays possible.

The irony is, in feeling like I was losing everything, I gained so much  more than I could ever imagine — an unrelenting strength, an awareness of self, and the courage to pursue a dream I’ve been holding on for a lifetime to its fullest potential, even among my darkest days, even now, among the healing.

And now, when I shed tears, they are tears of gratitude:

Gratitude for this healing, in every possible way.

Gratitude for tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that, and the tomorrow after that.

Gratitude for those who have stood by and supported  me through the darkest times so that I can be here to share with you the good.

I’m ready…

Are you ready with me?

 

Stay tuned to this space TOMORROW as I get set for the official announcement across the interwebs.
I’m excited. I’m terrified.

And, as always, I’m grateful for it all.

 

* * * * *

Want to know more about my journey with Lyme Disease? Check out Lyme Chronicles, a new featured section here on twenty(or)something: read my story, browse the archive of Lyme-related posts, and find educational and awareness resources including non-profit organizations, support forums, and survivor blogs.

 

 

Chronicles, Life, Personal Development

The Sun Will Rise

I’ve been stuck in the storm before
Felt the wind raging at my door
Couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe,
Couldn’t find a way out…

 I visited my doctor last week for my six-month check up. Six months. I can hardly believe that so much time has passed already. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what it was like a few months ago, in those hours of pain and fog, when time seemed suspended, like I was living in limbo with a past and an unstable present but certainly no future to which to cling.

I can see my future now — there’s a dream reborn.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what it was like just a few short weeks ago, when the depression of this disease plunged me to a depth where even the love of a dog — Riley, who has been my saving grace and one of the few hopes I’ve held onto through all of this — couldn’t reach me.

Now, I have so many more reasons for holding on than I’ve ever had for letting go.

Time has a funny way of healing — anesthetizing memories and experiences and infusing you with a strength that urges you always onward. And while I can question this suffering, while I can doubt these (many exhausting) lessons as necessary, I know in my heart that what I’ve been healing from is far more important than an insidious disease of the body. And I can finally understand how it took this healing of my body to heal myself…

My mind, my heart, my very soul.

 

And though you can’t see it,
So hard to believe it,
Sometimes you just need a little faith.
There’s an answer to your prayer
And I swear that there’ll come a day…

 

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to understand when or how or why it happened. Nearly 300 posts on this blog and I’m still no closer to figuring that part of it out. But somewhere along the way, or maybe even since the beginning, I began to believe that I was undeserving, that I was unworthy of this world and any of its joys.

I began to believe I was unloved. I began to believe I wasn’t special.

And while I’ve always seen the world as beautiful, as magical, as full of life and love and hope, I never believed that those things were meant for me.

Those thoughts seeped into my heart like a poison where they remained, festering for years. And no affirmations, no compliments, no prayers or mantras and certainly no one could draw that poison back out.

We are our own worst enemy on our darkest days. But only when we’ve had enough — when the heart has been wounded for the last time, when we finally see the truth reflected in the mirror, when we stop hiding from ourselves — can we be our own fierce warrior.

Beneath the heavy curtain of long, cold nights, I cried out for purpose. In the clarity of morning, I’ve found reason.

I’m beginning to recognize the beauty in myself again — both body and soul.

I’m beginning to feel the fire in my belly, once reduced to mere embers, now burn with a passion for dreams and people and even life itself, fueled with intent and propelling me towards a future that I never believed was meant for me. A future that could have been reduced to ashes if I had let it.

I wouldn’t let it.

I’m beginning to find confidence that I had once buried in exchange for modesty, erroneously rejecting that confidence, mistaking it too easily for ego.

I’m believing now. I’m believing in me.

And I’m finding the joy of vulnerability, that there is love in the mending…

And there is strength in a once-fragile heart.

The sun will rise.

– Kelly Clarkson, “The Sun Will Rise” –

 

Chronicles, Life

29 and Alive

‘You were a million years of work,’
Said God and His angels, with needle and thread.
They kissed your head and said,
‘You’re a good kid and you make us proud.
So just give your best and the rest will come,
And we’ll see you soon.’
Sleeping At Last, “Needle and Thread”



Today is my 29th birthday.

I’m alive.

These are the two thoughts that kept resonating in my mind all day, and although it sounds melodramatic when stated so boldly, when I look back at all that has happened this past year, it feels little less than a miracle. Barely two months ago, I was unable to walk a few yards on my own, the pain so excruciating, the fog so overwhelming, and the fatigue so great that I couldn’t lift my head from my pillow for more than an hour at a time.

There were days when I wanted to give up and give in, so weary and worn from this fight that I began to wonder if it was worth it after all. Every new day became another new battle against this disease that had invaded and assaulted my body; every day I was haunted by memories of my so-called former life, of  what it was to be “normal,” of who I used to be and the Susan I longed to be again. Every day, it seemed, I was in conflict without and within — at war with those who questioned this disease and my character, at war with my own feelings of self-worth and deserving, and at war with my own will.

But I couldn’t give up.

You wouldn’t let me.

Every day, while that internal battle waged, you urged me to keep holding on, to trust and find my faith…

To be brave.

You, my Mom and Dad and brothers and family — you lent me your strength and love when I feared I had little left;  I owe this life to you, my walking angels.  And you, my dear friends and soulmates– you brought inspiration and laughter into my life again when laughter was hard to come by; every smile since has been because of you.

And, I’ve since realized, I wouldn’t have let myself give up, either. Because while I was at my weakest physically and sometimes emotionally, there existed in me a strength — a power, a fighting spirit — like I’ve never before known that urged me onward, that struck a fire in the deepest parts of my soul, that whispered in my darkest moments,

“You are a survivor.”

So when I say I’m alive, I mean it without melodramatics and over-sentimentality, but instead, with purpose. Because I know how easy it would be to take those two simple words for granted; I know that I almost did. But I know just how much meaning those words hold now, how just that simple affirmation can fill the soul once again with hope and promise.

And so I sing those words with every ounce of gratitude that resides within my heart.

I’m alive.

I’m alive.

I’m alive…