“You are braver you believe Stronger than you seem and Smarter than you think”
Those are the words engraved on a silver bracelet, a gift I received for my birthday. It’s a reminder I need.
Like everything else in life, living with a chronic medical condition involves a balancing act between two different situations: giving in to the pain/surrendering to it/resting and fighting the pain/powering through it/trying to ignore it at all costs.
Throughout my student years, I was always described as smart. I could accept that compliment at face value; after all, I had the grades to prove it. Other comments about more objective qualities, such as beauty and bravery, were more subjective. I didn’t always trust a compliment that came my way; but a criticism, I most often believed whole-heartedly.
This disease of mine gives me one more way to doubt myself, one more way to look at myself as inadequate and incapable. And yet, when I’m logical and objective I can acknowledge my efforts and recognize that I’m doing a pretty damn good job living my life. Problem is, it’s always easier to find fault with something I did or didn’t do. Hence, the need for the bracelet and its positive affirmation.
There’s a scene in the film Under the Tuscan Sun when Diane Lane’s character, Frances, is reminded that all her dreams have come true -- the wedding at her villa, the family living in her newly renovated home. Her dreams, however, had taken on a slightly different version, and thus were not immediately noticeable to her. The same has happened to me. In all honesty, the last few years of my teaching career, I’d dread the start of the new school year. I’d joke that I was waiting for someone I know to win the lottery and share the prize money with me so that I wouldn’t have to work and could stay home with my son. I fantasized that someday a magazine would recognize my writing talents and pay me to write for them.
My dreams have come true. I am a stay-at-home mom, actively participating in my son’s daily activities. A website has recognized my writing talents and does compensate me for the two posts I write each week. Those hopes and dreams have just taken a different form, come at a different price.
Without the pain, without the disease that is a part of who I am and what I do each day, I wouldn’t have achieved my dreams. It’s a “no pain, no gain” type of situation for me.
And through the lows and the tears, I must remember that I remain a strong, brave, smart woman. The disease hasn’t changed that; in fact, it probably has only made me realize just how strong and brave and smart I am.