Thursday, April 30, 2015
I'm one for reflection. And there are a lot of questions I could ask myself. A lot of things I could doubt about the past, knowing what I know. I could ask myself: if I knew I'd have to make the decision to give up biological children, would I have thought about adoption in my 20s, before my condition really reared it's ugly head? Would I have started my business, knowing how tough it would be at times when I woke up horribly depressed and couldn't move? Knowing how much the stress of it could cause me to cycle? It would have been easier to stay in my fitness job, where I had set times and wasn't much required to work when not physically at work, certainly. Would I have medicated myself up, gone to extensive therapy, and possibly not gone through all of the tumultuous personal ups and downs - a divorce, a broken engagement, and more? I have no idea. But I don't believe in regret, nor do I believe in looking back much, unless it's a nice bit of nostalgia here and there.
What I wish I'd known at the beginning was that I wasn't alone. I wish I'd known about all of the other health activists. I wish I'd known about the strength that we could draw from each other. I wish I'd known how amazing my support group would be, so that I could start it sooner - not only for myself, but for the others as well.
But mostly, I wish I'd known it wasn't my fault. I blamed myself. I blamed myself for getting into a marriage that I wasn't happy in, that I knew I wouldn't be happy in. I blamed myself for being so unhappy that I couldn't stay in it. I blamed myself for not getting where I wanted to be with my career. I blamed myself for the problems (or most of them) in my engagement. I blamed myself for friendships that went awry. I allowed my self esteem to get trampled on. Then I blamed myself for allowing my self-esteem to get trampled on. Why wasn't I strong enough? Why wasn't I secure enough in myself? Why am I so high strung? Why can't I see the world like others? Why have I changed so much from who I used to be?
And by saying I wish I'd known it wasn't my fault, I'm not placing the blame on anyone else. But it's like having severe asthma and blaming yourself for not being able to run a marathon as fast as your friends (or ever). Everyone else might think that if you train hard enough you can do it - maybe they even have asthma and they did it, so they transfer that to you. But you know that no matter what they say, your body won't let you. And eventually, perhaps you accept it, and decide to take up other pursuits which don't cause you to struggle to breathe. And maybe you'll no longer see your marathon-running friends so much because they don't understand, or they do, but they don't want to take time away from marathon training. But either way, it's not your fault. Acceptance of this doesn't mean that you're in denial or that you're making excuses or that you're not holding yourself accountable. It means you do the best you can, be the best version of you that you can, and acknowledge that maybe it doesn't fit with what others need and want.
I wish I'd known who I was deep down, and how to be true to that self. I wish I'd been able to separate my vision of myself, others' vision of me, and who I really am when you peel away the layers of baggage and illness and shame and years of blaming myself for things that were often out of my control.
Do I wish I could go back in time and know then what I know now? I do not. Because I wouldn't be who I am now. There are certainly things I might have changed if I'd known. But if I'd done so, I wouldn't have experienced the things I have, and grown as a result of them. Which means I wouldn't be the same person today. And while I'm not on the path I thought I'd be, I don't think it's a bad path. It's just different. Like me.