Being OK With Not Being OK
Last weekend I lost my shit. And for the first time in my life, I'm not scrambling to find it again. My ducks are NOT in a row, and I'm just fine with that. I'm not OK, and I'm learning to be OK with that.
A little backstory: for the past four years I've been experiencing what you might call a mystery illness. My thyroid numbers are all on the low end of normal. I produce cortisol, but not in the reliable daily pattern that I should. My sex hormones are a hot mess. I experience some of the symptoms you'd expect from these imbalances--hair loss, low energy. But not others--weight gain, trouble sleeping. Treatments that should make me feel better sometimes make me feel worse (looking at you, progesterone). Others result in feeling better overall and may even ameliorate symptoms like the hair loss...for a while. But so far nothing has had any lasting effect. I've spent four years and tens of thousands of dollars asking a question that still has no answer. I've taken hundreds of tests and thousands of pills. And I still feel unwell.
Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I have a new doctor, who's ordered more tests and given me more pills, neither of which is a new experience. What is new is that she's suggested some dietary limitations--no eggs and no table sugar, in any form. I will admit to being less than enthused about these changes, though I will do anything that seems safe and logical in the name of healing. (Also, I did ask her to run the tests that lead to these suggestions. So, there's that.)
Sugar was never a big part of my diet...unless you include ALL the places it loves to hide. Sriracha?! Really??? It's bad enough that a girl can't have a cookie when she wants one. But you gotta take away my hot sauce?? #cruel
Eggs, on the other hand, were something I ate daily, something that I considered healthy, and that fit neatly into my schedule (and my lunchbox). For most of this year I've experienced some degree of fatigue. Sometimes it's severe enough that I feel like I can't make it through my days. The hair loss had normalized for a bit, but now that's back on the scene. And with these new restrictions, I've added changing my comfortable and familiar diet to the list of discomforts I'm enduring on a daily basis.
It may have set me a bit on edge. Some people may have noticed.
Last Sunday my husband snapped at me while we were doing our usual weekend house cleaning. A few minutes later he came up to me and said "Let's talk. I'd like to understand why you're so upset." He then proceeded to ask if it was the dietary restrictions that were making me "so pissy," and told me the friend he'd had breakfast with that day had asked after me twice, saying I wasn't my usual self. My love told our friend that my dietary restrictions were hard for me.
Egg-scuse me?! I was immediately and deeply upset by this. It felt dismissive, like he was taking the whole of my four years of seeking without finding and reducing it to the fact that I couldn't eat eggs or have a f***ing cookie. I was able to recognize that I was reacting to something, but not yet able to see what that was.
We continued to bicker for a bit. He kept asking what I needed from him and I kept harping on what he'd told our friend. I felt the resistance in myself, felt the glowing hot coal of a nuclear-level trigger in my soul. I was inarticulate, to say the least. After several fruitless rounds of this, we came to a mutually unsatisfactory not-quite-resolution, and I headed upstairs to make the bed. As I was walking across the bedroom, I was flooded with emotion.
"It's not fair!!" screamed my brain. Other people know what's wrong with them and don't do what it takes to get better. Here I am, doing everything under the sun, spending countless hours and dollars, taking hordes of tests and pills, visiting all the doctors, asking a million questions. I'm perfectly willing to do anything to feel better, and I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT'S WRONG!!!!!!!
Oh. We're almost there now...
I marched back downstairs, armed with my righteous indignation. I stood in front of my husband and let it fly. "Here's what YOU don't understand," I said. I believe I may have even pointed the terribly overdramatic accusatory finger at him. And then I let it rip, the whole tirade that had grown in my head as I flung sheets and pillowcases at my bare mattress.
And as soon as I finished, I broke down. I started sobbing. The big, ugly kind of sobs, the ones that start at the bottom of your stomach like a twisted fist in a spiked glove and finish as snot bubbles. The kind of cry that makes you weak at the knees, leaves you feeling like you might vomit.
I see. I'm not upset because the hubs asked what was making me pissy, or because he explained my 'tude to a friend in the most simple of terms. I'm upset because this sucks. And I haven't been acknowledging that.
I've been ever so careful to remain in a space that supports healing. You'll never hear me say I "suffer" from anything. When I describe the symptoms, I never label them as "mine" (I even made that correction as I was typing this). I honor the things we've tried that haven't worked as steps bringing me closer to what will, and I live in full faith that healing is both possible and happening.
But without realizing it, I'd slipped into the Land of OR. The Land of OR is an island in Makebelieve. It's not real. It's an imaginary place where one thing is, and necessarily another is not. In the Land of OR you can be this or that: strong or soft, brave or fragile. In this Land, I could be healing or frustrated, hopeful or anguished.
But or is a falsehood. In this universe, OR does not exist. We live in the Land of AND. My experience is not this or that; it's this and that. I am healing AND this is hard. I believe I will find the answers AND it's frustrating that I don't have them yet. I feel hope AND I feel agony.
I had been so focused on choosing healing that I'd forgotten my ANDs. I was so committed to feeling good that I forgot to feel bad.
So that's what's on my agenda this week: feeling bad. Or rather, feeling everything, including bad. After my snotfest on Sunday, I've opened the doors of my heart and life and invited in all of the Undesirables...bitterness, judgement, anger, frustration, fear, mistrust, doubt. I'm letting them sleep on the couch, use the clawfoot tub and leave their wet towels on the floor, make a mess in the guest bedroom, and polish off my favorite hummus (they are also welcome to as many eggs as they can eat). They can stay as long as they need to. And having them here does not impeded my healing. In fact, allowing their full expression is paramount to it.
My healing is happening. And it's not happening as fast as I'd like it to. The answers are coming, and they are not here in this moment. I feel good about what I've done so far. And I feel bad about my lack of results. I would like a cookie. And an egg! I can be OK and not be OK. I can know that and still need a reminder. I can feel all of my emotions and be in full alignment with healing.