Yesterday, I posted about one part of an experience I had recently when I simply “let go” and allowed some really powerful emotions to reach the surface and flow outward. Today, I wanted to follow up on that and add in another piece of the puzzle.
After my friend recounted her moment of overwhelming emotion and then I allowed myself to experience the same, I stumbled upon another blog post that reinforced something to me that is very important to those of us with chronic illness.
Basically the post relayed how we can be grateful for the really good things in our lives while concurrently feeling that some other aspects of our lives completely suck. Most of us with chronic illness live that dichotomy every single day.
Sure, we find beauty and joy in a multitude of things such as the love of our family, nature, and more sensual pleasures such as getting a massage or taking a luxurious warm bath. Yet, we also live with pain and other highly unpleasant symptoms at the same time.
Every day for us has some good and some bad. Some days, there isn’t much of a balance and the bad forces its way to the forefront. Other days, the good far outweighs the negativity.
We can simultaneously dislike the unpleasant things while still celebrating the more pleasurable ones. I remember such a good example of this. Back when I was in college and was in a fairly complete remission from my rheumatoid arthritis, I enjoyed going out dancing. It was a treat to have the ability to do this after so many years of being more severely limited.
But there was always a dark cloud hovering over me. Despite being in remission, I still had some residual damage to my joints (remember that I grew up in a time period when disease modifying drugs were not given to children).
Yes, I could dance. But the longer I stayed on my feet, the more my ankles throbbed. By the time I made it home at night, I was nearly unable to walk. When the alarm would sound and I had to get up and get ready to go to class the next day, the pain would still be there.
As the sitcom theme song goes, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life.” Yes, the reality was that the joy of dancing the night away would lead to a level of pain in which I struggled just to move about in my apartment.
I was both grateful and frustrated that my life involved such a dichotomy. But, it was the only life I had at the time, and I just kept on living it. I wasn’t about to give up the dancing just to avoid the pain afterward.
Yes, these are the facts of chronic illness life. There is good. There is bad. Both pretty much coexist at any given moment. We can be highly grateful for the good and ticked off that we must endure the bad. We are not failing at being thankful people simply because we aren’t thankful for the suffering our illnesses cause.
As I have said in previous blog posts, I’m grateful for what having a lifelong chronic illness has taught me. But I’m not necessarily happy about the level of pain and suffering I’ve endured in the past or that I face now and in the future. And that’s OK. My reality consists of good and bad. I make the best of both.
On this Thankful Thursday, I hope you are able to find that balance between the two.