Staying Power

There’s a song by The Fray that I’ve always loved called “All At Once.” There’s a line that “sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” It’s true. This past week has been especially eye-opening for me in that direction. The past four years have been a rush of changes and upheavals. I moved to Ohio, away from my family, my friends, my entire support group. While there, I had a flare-up of arthritis, I had fights with my family and my then-boyfriend, and then I was hospitalized and almost died. Since then, I’ve been pushing, pushing, pushing. I’ve been running, running, running.

But I have always shown a brave face. I have tried to always be positive and look for the silver lining in every storm cloud that came my way. I’ve been thrown curve ball after curve ball, but I just kept my eyes forward, bat prepared, ready for the next one. In many ways, this has been a great thing. I’ve been ready to deal with a lot of difficulties that have arisen in the past few years. I’ve taken them all in stride and just kept pushing forward. But in some ways, my constant “fight or flight” mentality has kept me from dealing with some of the most difficult issues. It has also made things not always easy for those around me. It’s not always easy to care for someone who keeps having life bite back. It leaves you in the line of fire, too. Not to mention the stress of having someone around who is in constant search of a crisis.

There’s a story from the week after getting out of the hospital that I’ve only told to one other person. It was hard to always be so positive, and it was hard to imagine life continuing in such an erratic manner. I didn’t know the face in the mirror, I didn’t know if I would keep my eyesight; I didn’t think I would ever be “normal” again. One night, I thought long and hard about the bottle of pain pills sitting on the kitchen counter. I spent a lot of mornings just lying in bed, trying to allow my eyes to slowly adjust to the pain and the light before finally crawling out of bed. I’ve acted similarly in recent months, and neither occurrence of staying in bed half the day was mostly about the eye pain. But each morning back then, I was determined not to take the pain pills. So they sat there. It was a full bottle. And one night, I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. I stayed up late, listening to the television and thinking about the full bottle of pain pills. My grandparents went to bed, and I sat there, thinking I could make it all go away. I thought that I could get rid of all the pain and make life easier for everybody. And then I went upstairs… sans bottle. I lay awake for a long time that night, crying and thinking about that bottle, but I didn’t leave my room, and I never got that close to such a big mistake ever again.

In a lot of ways, pushing myself so hard with school and work has been my way of escaping everything else. Just like any other type of addictive substance, my busy schedule helped me keep my head above water and helped me to keep from focusing on my emotions, which were constantly being wracked by my health and by other factors. Eventually it became too much, and I crashed. This summer, and in many ways this blog, have been my start at a real healing process from everything in the past four years. But before I could start to heal, I had to stop running. Some of the emotions I had been running from for far longer than the hospital. And at my breaking point, I didn’t face the hardest thing. I took the escape route. “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” For me, the hardest thing was staying, facing all those emotions and working through them. But instead I, metaphorically, took the bottle upstairs with me and tried a few.

I realized immediately my mistake, but it was too late. The stumble had happened, and in life we aren’t the only ones who decide our future. Since that day, I have thrown out that metaphorical bottle and done my best to stand and face my deepest fears. I have taken the hardest steps to look inside myself and accept that it will take time for change to happen. It took me three years to have a surgery to gain my sight back. These scars run deeper. But I am facing them, and I am growing as a person. I found that sometimes the hardest thing, staying and fighting (even if it means fighting yourself) can be the most right thing.

 

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