December 30, 2009
What else would you do....
Went looking for a photo of letting birds fly and found this ridiculous one, couldn't resist....incidentally, don't let tame birds fly free. They die. In awful ways.
Before I received this gift of MS, I was a fiercely independent gal, always wanting to be the powerful one in any relationship, always withholding part of myself so I could have the strength of being unknown.
I liked to be in charge, the cage holder, instead of the occupant. I'm not sure where this level of ferocity came from - perhaps it's short woman syndrome, or the years and years of life I spent in high school, being the unwanted one, the one with no power. When I finally figured out how to get some, I was intoxicated with it, overjoyed that I had it, amazed that a 4'11" woman could command attention with little more than intelligence (and, if dealing with men, a push-up bra).
MS came along, and took away part of my quick-twitch mind, as my ex would have called it, slowed it down, made it less trustworthy. It made me cry at inappropriate times. It changed my outside persona from the uber-competent one to the bit wobbly one. It made me lose the power I'd accumulated. I ended up leaving work because it was too hard to live with my losses. At home, and protected, I can hide how awful I feel most of the time. I can hide my neediness.
There is grace in surrendering. I am a much better person now - calmer, kinder, more understanding, less demanding of others. Less angry overall. More appreciative of small things.
But in amongst the surrender, I have to figure out a new pathway, a new way to go. In my case, MS won't kill me. So the game plan has to be a good one. Do I want to relax, or keep striving? Where shall I focus my waning energies?
Today I heard from two friends - one is moving on to bigger career challenges and successes. I felt a wash of grief and jealousy in among the happiness I felt for her. I'm relieved that fight is behind me, but I grieve that I can no longer choose the fight, even if I wanted to.
Another was a friend who, when she married her husband, adopted his children . I was asking her how that went, sharing the family. She said it was challenging, but great - when I mentioned that I felt I was done parenting, her question was "What else would you do with your time then?"
What else would you do with your time, then?
I'd read the books I never had a chance to read while I worked and parented and got my education.
I'd write the books I feel are in me to write.
I'd volunteer in a bunch of ways I didn't have time for before and use what is left of my knowledge to help make the world a better place in the small ways I can.
I'd breathe in the silence of a childless house and enjoy the thrills of a tidy one.
I'd save up so I could travel to Greece or Cuba or Dayton Ohio (and the Erma Bombeck conference).
I'd learn to forgive people easier, to let go more rage about things gone past.
I'd get as fit as I could, be healthy as possible, move as long as possible.
I'd campaign for social justice through the political system.
I'd write a thousand more letters for Amnesty International to help free those who live lives of despair.
I'd walk, crawl, run, wheel the MS walk to raise money for research and support for the others afflicted with this disease.
I'd paint, create, play, have bumptious sex, love, embrace, smile, watch the moon go through it's phases, watch meteor showers, laugh with friends, listen to good music and great plays.
I'd run away to places that lifted my soul, and wallow in them up to my hips. Even if a walker has to come with me.
But most of all, I'd find a way of contributing somehow. I still need to make a difference. Before that, too, is taken away from me.