Forgiveness

forgiveness

This past weekend, was Yom Kippur, which is a solemn, reflective day to all Jewish people.  Everyone thinks back over the past year and reflects on things that have happened, people that have passed and the deeds they have done.

On this holiday, it is believed, everyone’s fate is sealed for the next year.  We atone for our sins today and tomorrow we start the new year with a clean slate.  It’s a new beginning, with new possibilities for us all.  In the spirit of the holiday, I have forgiven someone close to me who has hurt me tremendously, on several occasions.

I have been carrying around this hurt and annoyance and it was weighing me down.  I decided that forgivenss was the kindest gift I could give myself to lift my spirit and I also felt it was a gift to the person I was forgiving.  The person was very appreciative and apologized for the hurt and said that for me to forgive them, really shows that I am a special and understanding person.

It felt good to forgive someone, really forgive someone for something big.  We are always forgiving people for running 10 minutes late or for misunderstanding something we said or forgetting to wish us “Good Luck” on an important occasion.  These are little things, that in the scheme of life are unimportant.  But I felt like it was a cleansing to forgive on a greater scale.  Forgiveness brought me peace of mind.  So for now, I have let go of the deeply held negative feelings I had towards this person, but time will tell if positive ones will replace these newly released negative ones.

Forgiveness does not mean that I am forgetting what was done, nor does it mean I’m excusing the offenses.  It means that I am no longer holding on to this negativity and that I am free to move forward into the new year with a truly clean slate.

Writing 101: Dark Clouds on the Horizon

darkclouds

 

One night, after I finished eating dinner, I was bored and lonely and decided to call my boyfriend.  We had been going out over a year, but during this time period I went from being a healthy independent career woman to someone with an invisible illness that had sucked the life and energy out of me.  My relationship was strained as a result of becoming sick, as my boyfriend was uncomfortable being around old and sick people.  I knew this before I became ill, but at that time it really wasn’t an issue.

It was a Wednesday night and usually we tried to see each other once during the week and then we spent the weekend together at his house.  I was isolated living in NYC with my illness and he really was my lifeline.  He’d pick me up on Fridays and drop me back home after the weekend, as at this point I was working from home, trying to sort out my health situation.

We had settled into a routine, although neither one of us was all that happy with our situation at this moment.  He wanted more from me and I really had no more to give.  I was like a battery on it’s last charge, puttering a little, but not completely dead.  We had bickered  a lot during the previous weekend because he didn’t want me to go home on Sunday and I said that I have no more to give, I’m completely exhausted and bone tired.  If you need more, then you probably should start dating.  He had said much worse to me and in a tone, that I became all too familiar with.

So on this Wednesday night, as I picked up the phone to speak with him, I wanted to smooth things out and figure out a way to avoid having the same situation occur the next weekend.  But to my surprise, when I dialed his cell number, I heard him pick up and I said, “Hello”, but he wasn’t on the other end of the phone.  Instead, what did I hear…  I heard him talking to another girl, yes he was on a blind date, with someone for the first time.

At first I couldn’t believe what I heard, I was in disbelief.  I didn’t know if I was more shocked that he was on a date, or that somehow the Universe was letting me know he was on the date and letting me listen in.  I heard all about her,  that she was a widow, with 2 grown kids and that her parents recently died.

I heard him suggest his favorite Italian entree and I immediately knew what restaurant he had choosen. We had been there many times together and I was picturing him sitting there with this woman.  I heard him describe his situation, his children, his ex wife, his job and I felt like an intruder, yet I just couldn’t hang up the phone.  I was in shock.  How could he find someone to date in 2 quick days.  Was he dating all along, since I became ill?  Would I ever know the truth or be able to trust him again completely?

I feel that you should never ask a question that you won’t believe the answer too.  So my mind was racing, was I going to ask him about this date?, was I going to pretend I didn’t know? or was he going to own up and tell me that he went on a date?

At this point, 2 hours had probably gone by and I had my headphones on.  Yes, I probably should have hung up, but I couldn’t.   The dinner was coming to an end and he paid the bill and they exchanged pleasantries outside the restaurant.  Was he going to kiss her?  Well he didn’t, instead the conversation switched and they started talking about cell phones.  And what does he do, he reached into his pocket to show her his new cell phone and he sees that he’s connected to me on the phone..  OMG, I panicked and quickly hung up.

Now thinking back while writing this post, I’m laughing and have a big smile on my face, but at the time I wasn’t laughing or smiling.  I knew he would start calling me when he was alone and I really didn’t know if I was prepared to speak to him right now.  Sure enough 15 minutes later, the phone starts ringing and I don’t pick up.  His  personality, is such, that he won’t stop calling until I answer, he had displayed this behavior before, so I gave in and gave it to him!!  We had an argument and then I hung up the phone and tried to sleep, but I didn’t sleep.

I couldn’t shut my mind off.  I was hurt, very hurt, that 2 days after I told him to start dating if he needed more, he did.  Really what hurt me the most, is that I realized he must have been planning on dating way before the past weekend when we bickered a lot and he had this girl waiting in the wings.

The next day, he showed up at my door and apologized profusely, over and over again.  There was no connection between them, he doesn’t want to see her again and he wants to be with me, even though I’m ill.  It took me a while to get over the hurt, but I did forgive him and we did give it another try.

What happened that night, has always stayed with me, as one of the funnier situations that have occurred in my “off the wall” dating life. I have many of these stories, but this one is close to the top of that list.  Maybe the one that’s at the top is when I was on a blind date myself, after the meal, I had to go to the rest room and when I came back to the table, my date was gone.  He left the restaurant.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I don’t remember what we talked about, or else I could have used that story for my post!

Doctor – Patient Relationship

drpatient

 

I was brought up to respect my elders and to listen to what they told me.  I always looked at doctors with awe and listened intently to anything they would tell me and to always follow their directions.  But lately, I am realizing that they too are just people, doing a job. Unfortunately, they are not fully invested in helping me get well.  I am just another appointment on their calendar to get through.  Heck, they don’t even show up on time for 90% of the appointments.

As I sat waiting in a doctor’s office yesterday afternoon, I had plenty of time to think.  The appointment was at 1:15 and I was seen by the doctor at 3:45.  The doctor is a genuinely nice man, highly respected in his field and his staff is exceedingly friendly (which is a big plus), but I still had to wait over 2 hours.

I will continue to see this doctor, as I value his advice and he is very respectful and courteous and doesn’t rush you during the exam (which is why you have to wait so long), but their are other doctors that I am currently seeing that I am seriously considering severing the relationship with.

I recently read an article about the relationship with your doctor and it stated “With a good doctor, you always leave the office feeling that they care about you.”  I can’t say that is true in most of my experiences.  I guess I’m not alone in feeling like this because the article also states that 2/3 of patients worldwide say that they are dissatisfied with their doctors, but many stick with them anyway because they assume all doctors will treat them the same way.  The other major reason we stick with a doctor is because we are worried about offending them or we are just so overwhelmed by the idea of finding someone new and starting all over again.

I am guilty of these 3 reasons of sticking with doctors, long after I know I should move on.  Recently, I had a test done at a lab and sent copies of the results to 2 different doctors (Dr. E and Dr. G).

Dr E. called me back within a week to discuss my results and a plan of action to help me improve the situation.  It involves starting a new medicine, with major possible side effects.  Dr. E spent a substantial amount of time on the phone with me answering my questions and then gave me her email address and said if I have any side effects or any additional concerns, just drop her an email.  I have always loved this doctor and her handling of my current situation is just another reason why I am glad I did change doctors, because the previous specialist I was seeing was so rude and dismissive to me, that I left the office in tears (that’s the first and last time I hope that happens).  But even after I left the office in tears, I told myself that maybe she’s having a bad day and I should give her another chance.  I did use her one more time and while she wasn’t as rude, I just didn’t like the experience in her office, even with her help.  They weren’t understanding of my needs and I promised myself I would look for another doctor.

Getting back to my current results, Dr. G’s office called me back two weeks after the test was done and the assistant requested that I make an appointment to see the doctor to discuss the results.  I explained my situation and asked if the doctor could get on the phone for 5 minutes and I could discuss the treatment plan my other doctor suggested.  The following day the assistant called me back and said I have to come in to see the doctor and that she wouldn’t be giving me advice over the phone.

Now which doctor do you think I’m going to continue to see?  In this situation, it’s really cut and dry, but many situations aren’t as clear. The article stated there are 5 common signs that suggest you need to change your doctor.  They are:

  1. The doctor. doesn’t tailor recommendations to your life
  2. The doctor is always running late
  3. The doctor rushes you
  4. The office is disorganized
  5. The doctor is arrogant

So from now on, I will periodically reevaluate my satisfaction with the doctors I see (and unfortunately there are many).  If I don’t feel as if I’m working as a team with my doctor and that we are not partners in this important relationship, I will look for another doctor.

It’s easier to find a doctor these days, then it is a potential mate, so why suffer with either relationship when you know in your heart it’s time to move on.

Writing 101: Serially Lost

losttime

Losing someone special or something that you care a great deal about is very painful, yet it’s something that everyone has to deal with and process in their own way and in their own time.  I lost 2 very special people, within a few months of each other and I’ve been thinking all day about which one I should write about and how to approach this post.  But as I sat down to write, I realized the greatest loss I have had in my life is losing the last 5 years to an illness.

When you lose a person, there’s a grieving process and the pain and sadness ease up after a period of time, but what happens when you lose your life to an illness and I don’t mean death, I mean having to figure out a way to live a purposeful and happy life, while you lost your previous life.  Grief associated with an ongoing illness isn’t as finite as losing a loved one.  The event happens and doesn’t go away.  How can time heal all wounds when your life is a daily permanent reminder of that loss and it is never ending.

Five years ago, I was in a great place, living a great life, not perfect but great.  I had entered a new relationship which was very special to me, I had a terrific job, where I was fairly compensated and I had freedom and unlimited choices.  I was happy and optimistic about my future.

It was a very cold February night as I went to sleep, thinking about the fun I was going to have at tomorrow’s Super Bowl Party and hoping that the numbers I picked in the office pool were going to net me the big win of the night.   I fell asleep quickly that Saturday night and when I awoke on Sunday morning, nothing was the same.

I couldn’t move, couldn’t get my legs to support my weight and I just lie there wondering what was going on.  After a while, my legs stopped shaking and I was able to make my way to the kitchen and brew a pot of coffee, thinking that would help me get on with my day.

Unfortunately, 2 cups of coffee later, I was in no better shape and had to go back to bed, where I spent the better part of the following week.  Everyone kept telling me I must have picked up a nasty virus and that I’d be back to normal in no time, but I knew something was very wrong and that a week in bed was not going to cure this ailment.

When you have a chronic condition, you are forever walking down a imaginary line that separates the past from the future. I think back to what I used to be able to do and think about the things I’ve had to give up and the time that I lost.  When I look forward, I can’t really picture what my future will bring, as I’m entering unchartered territory.

 

 

 

Writing 101

corewriting

Since I enjoy writing and always want to be better at it, I decided to join the Writing 101 course offered by WordPress and today I have my first assignment.

The assignment seems simple enough, it’s to take 20 minutes and just free write, don’t think about what you are writing, just write whatever comes to mind.  Sounds simple enough as my mind never stops working but are people really interested in my random thoughts.  Well maybe today they are.

Mainly right now, I’m thinking about how cold I am this morning and how unprepared I am for the fall weather that has hit NYC. I love the fall, that’s my favorite season, but always hate the change in seasons as we go from warm to chilly to freezing and then again to warmer weather.  When you live in a small apartment, the change of seasons also means dragging out last season’s clothes and shoes and packing away the currents seasons items.  I have always hated this process and have come to hate it more since I’ve become ill.

I barely have energy to do what I need to do and this added work is a nuisance for me and takes about a month to complete as I can only do a carton a day.  Today I had to find my fuzzy slippers as flip flops won’t work any longer.  It’s funny how quickly the weather changes and your mindset has to change to.  Halloween is approaching and I even saw a commercial for Christmas Lay Away.  It is only September, but time marches on very quickly, even if I don’t march quickly.

I was excited about this course, as I was hoping it would help pass the days and also help me learn something as my mind has also slowed down, with my body slowing down.  I need to learn and am hoping this helps me feel challenged, even in a small way.

 

Anger

holdingontoanger

 

Today it was pointed out to me by someone who’s opinion I trust and respect, that I very rarely get angry.   This wasn’t the first time this was pointed out to me and I wanted to explore this further.   I said anger is an emotion I am not comfortable with.  I hate the emotion when it is displayed in others and especially when it’s directed at me.  I try very hard to live and act a certain way, so as not to hurt or anger anyone.  My intent is always pure and I expect others to act the same way.

But is it healthy not to get angry?  Can’t I be pure and good and nice and still display anger.  Am I harming myself  by not getting angry when it is warranted?  Shouldn’t I be angry that I am chronically ill and have no idea when (or if) I will ever return to health?  Shouldn’t I be angry that I had to stop working and go on disability?  Shouldn’t I be angry that I had to sell my co-op that I owned for 20 years and move to a neighborhood near my mom and sister, so that I had a support system near by.  Shouldn’t I be angry that I have been removed from society for 5 years and not able to move on with my live?

When I read this, I’m thinking of course I should be angry, but I’m not.  Or is this anger so suppressed  and buried deep within me, that it is keeping me ill and I don’t even know it.  It would be a lie to say that my life and my health haven’t changed for the worse, but I think I am making the best of a difficult situation and I just don’t see how being angry that this happened to me is of any use.

I grieved for the loss of my pre-illness life, as I would a loved one.  In fact, I was going through this period of mourning my old life, when my dad past, so I grieved for them both at the same time.  Just as I deeply miss my dad, I deeply miss the life I had, but as time moves on and you become more removed from the past, the new normal is your reality.  While I remember and have flashbacks of my dad when I see a mailman on the street (as that was his occupation), or when I have to parallel park (as he taught me how to expertly do that), I also have flashbacks and pangs of sadness when I think back to my working and dating days.  But not anger, never anger or rage.

I’m starting to wonder if this is normal.  I never really thought about it before like this.  What good is constantly reliving the past in our minds, it only holds us back from moving forward.  I have so many physical constraints, I don’t want to think that my mind is causing me to prolong my illness and recovery.

I strongly believe that a very important component of me getting well and feeling better is adapting to my new reality.  Even though my life is difficult, very difficult at times, I still have an inner peace that sustains me and helps me go on each day.   There are days when I feel useless and not productive, but I never feel like my life is without value or worth.

My particular chronic illness is an extremely physically draining one, but I would be foolish to think that it isn’t emotionally draining too.  The more I adapt to my current surroundings and my new limits, the happier I feel I will be.  I am very thankful, that before I became ill, I was a very resilient, easy going individual and this resilience has served me well.  I also am thankful that I have a social support system that is available to me when I speak up and ask for help.

So as suggested to me, for the next 30 days, I am going to keep a diary of situations that occur and my response to them and see if anger is warranted in any of the situations when I review the day in my diary.  I am hoping I don’t have too many entries!

 

Finding my PURPOSE

the-purpose-of-life

I’ve been ill for 5 years now and I really don’t know where the time has gone.  What have I accomplished or learned in these 5 years, if anything I’ve gone backwards not forwards.  Lately I’ve been struggling to figure out my purpose in life and why I became ill and what lessons am I learning from being ill.   My Reiki practitioner said that I fear moving forward and that this fear is  keeping me sick and stagnant and that I am blocked and must find my way out.  She said that she envisions me in a field jumping through leaves being happy and carefree and able to walk and move about freely. She has told me repeatedly that I will not stay in this state forever.

So what is holding me back?  How can I find my “new” purpose in life because whatever I thought my purpose was before I became ill, is outdated.  I vaguely even remember my healthy life anymore.  When I look at pictures, it’s like I’m looking at someone else’s life.   Getting up at 7 am, commuting to work, putting in a 10 hour work day, socializing over dinners and weekend excursions.  That isn’t your purpose in life, that is how you pass your life, so did my life ever have purpose?  Do most people’s lives have real purpose?

If I think about the people in my life, there are a handful that definitely live a purposeful life.  They try and help others, give back to the community, raise awareness and are just plain kind and loving to all humans and animals alike.  But most of the other people I know are just getting through the daily grind and not even appreciating all the gifts they have in their life.

The definition of PURPOSE is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”.  What have I been put on this earth to accomplish?  Is it to enlighten others as to how illness changes you?  So many people that become ill, remake their lives and try and help others so what special twist on that can I add.  I’m really not sure yet and maybe when I stumble upon what makes me special and unique, I will feel free and move forward.

I know I am a good person.  I am kind, compassionate, empathetic, smart but where has that taken me.   I love learning things, figuring things out and observing people.  What am I missing about what my life is supposed to be…

I hope I realize my true mission in life very soon.  Our life is what we do EVERY minute of EVERY day.  I know it is each of our own responsibility to create the future we want, but does sitting around and wondering what it will be limit the possibilites?  I must  trust and live in the present and let go of my fears of the future.  Fears of living alone, fears of becoming sicker, fears of not being able to support myself or take care of myself.  These are all fears that I have and that I try to put to the side, but they are real concerns.

For right now, I will try and embrace my life and not worry about what the future will hold.  Maybe the answer is right under my nose and if I start living in the present, it will make itself known to me.