Sometimes, I assume it's easier not to tell friends and family about the health issues I am struggling with. I am reminded of the words of a trusted friend and natural healer: "The journey to becoming well is a long one. It will bend you, but it will not break you." I have changed my entire vocabulary around how I think about my health. I don't use the words "get better," but rather "become well." Multitudes of tests have come back mostly showing normal results and in that is some very good news--I know what I am not dealing with. Additionally, there is a chance my symptoms could improve over time and with treatment. Still, even with my vocabulary change and my personal sighs of relief, I often still go about the process in silence. I tell myself I am much better at being funny, bubbly, and "pleasant" than portraying any signs of physical or emotional distress. If I am not able to be funny and bubbly and I foresee being "unpleasant," it feels easier to go about that in private. The problem is that my outlook is rather biased. I can have 2 days where my energy is low, my pain level is through the roof, and my tremors are non-stop and widespread. I may feel discouraged with not accomplishing everything I'd like to, for not being able to move as fast and flexibly as I'd like to, for having a hard time doing things that should be easy. In that time, I've not only convinced myself it will always be like this, I have (even worse) convinced myself it always is like this and always has been. If the tables were turned, I'd be there with open arms for a dear friend or family member. Why then is it so hard to accept the open arms of my friends and family?
Remember the old saying? "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." I may have taken that to a bit of an extreme. The truth is, my friendships have only ever grown closer when I have opened up to the possibility that I can give AND receive comfort and kindness.
A couple of months ago, I took just such a risk and sat with a woman I greatly admire and am greatly honored to call my Friend. She took two hours out of her evening--away from her children and husband, away from a house full of guests, and away from her own To-do list in the middle of a busy holiday--to sit, listen, laugh, cry and pray with me. I called her again tonight, planning just to go over some quick little detail about a project, but couldn't fight the Truth behind my call (that maybe even I hadn't realized). The Truth was, I needed her Friendship and her comfort, laughter, humor and spirit. After hanging up the phone, even with tears in my eyes, I felt physical relief. I do not need to become well in silence. I can do so with the same intensity, humor, and occasional lack of grace with which I do everything else in my life! And, as I hung up the phone, I also remembered a short story my dear friend shared with me that night two months ago, that I found again in an adapted version here:
...It is the perfect Bedtime Story for a Cold, Wet Night...