Thursday, June 25, 2015

I'm Still Here

Post Soundtrack:  I'm Running by Yes

Today I was watching a movie that I find quite enjoyable.  It was only my second time watching it, but I was finding it just as entertaining as the very first time.  However, something significant struck me this time around, and I want to write about it.

The movie is full of young people doing active, energetic, daring things.  They are leaping, climbing, jumping, falling, challenging themselves physically.  At points during the movie, I've paused it to go get laundry, hauling it up and down the stairs.  Sometimes that can be difficult or outright impossible.  Today it isn't.  Today is a green day, a good day.  As I was heading up and down the stairs, it occurred to me that there was a spring in my step, a surge of energy that normally is lacking.  And all of a sudden it hit me.

That used to be me.

When I was younger, before Lupus touched my life, I was very active and energetic.  I was bouncy.  I would skip down the grocery aisle with a cart full of stuff.  I went hiking.  I climbed rocks.  I would jump and skip steps, up or down the stairs.  I would take the path less traveled because it was more fun and challenging, and gave me a new perspective.  I loved to run, to feel my muscles flex and the air expand my lungs.  (Just to be fair, I mostly would just sprint for the fun of it, not really marathon-type running.)  I did all of this for fun.  Because I felt like it.  Because it was just me.

Lupus has stolen this part from me.  Stairs are a challenge most days now.  I almost never skip under any circumstances.  I can't run and chase and race my son, like I'd always imagined I would.  I can't go hiking or horseback riding or rock climbing.  I can't even get to the rocks in order to climb them these days!  It's really rather depressing, and I've been struggling with accepting this new me.  Trying to turn away from what used to be and find the new me.

Only problem is, today I realized something.  I'm still here.  That me, the old, energetic me, is still here, inside.  It isn't a matter of "If only I could feel better, I'd find the energy to get into shape and be able to do that again."  It's a matter of, "When I have more energy, I find that part of myself again!"  It's there, waiting, lurking, still part of who I am.  The me that loved to do Tae Bo because it made me feel powerful... the me that laughed and danced and spun with my son for the pure joy of it.... the me that would step off the sidewalk just to step up on a rock and jump off onto the sidewalk again... that me is still here.  I am still me.

There are drawbacks to this discovery.  Part of me is really rather thrilled that I haven't lost that aspect of myself entirely, that it simply is buried under pain and tiredness and illness.  But the flip side of the coin is that it's a part of me I can only rarely glimpse.  It's hidden, buried deep, swamped and overwhelmed by this horrible disease.  It makes me resent Lupus more.  How dare it steal that part of me, that vital and vibrant part of me that used to shine so bright!  It's buried so deeply, my own son doesn't even know that it is a part of me.  If I suddenly was Lupus-free, he would be baffled by my energy level, by my bounciness, my goofy antics, my desire to be out and doing.  He doesn't associate the current me with the real me.  How sad is that?!

So there it is.  The inner me battling with the outer me.  How do I keep myself intact, whole, and sane under these conditions?  Not sure I have that answer just yet, but it's gotta be here somewhere, because there is an amazing surge of joy when I realize I'm still me, that what I identified as myself still exists.  That can't be a bad thing, right?  So I just have to find these nuggets of happiness and hold on tight.  I refuse to lose what I now know is part of me, even if I can't access it.  Just like I refuse to let go of being a horse-lover.  I may not be using these aspects of myself right now, but they are still there, they are still part of my identity, and I will hold onto them tightly as the treasures they are.

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