When I was younger, I used to quit things a lot. There was a very good reason for it but it still made me feel like a loser. I used to quit things that were too hard. The first and probably worst thing I ever quit was my swim classes. Before I got sick, my swim classes were the best. I loved them; I was good at them. It was my thing. I never wanted to get out of the water. After the transplant, I had to relearn how my body worked and often it felt like I was never going to figure it out. So, when I couldn’t keep up with the rest of my swim class, I felt like I had my favourite thing taken from me. I started to feel that way a lot. Like the virus that took my heart, took the things that made me happy as well.
There were a lot of things that distracted me from how badly I felt. I had school I had to keep up with, I had to make new friends (this could probably be a whole other post, but one of the things that happens to you when you almost die is it freaks people out and they abandon you). I had to go back to being as normal as possible. The second major thing I quit was dance. The way I feel about this, surprises even me. I didn’t know how much I loved dance. But when I felt like I couldn’t do it, like my body didn’t understand it anymore, like I lost all the skills I had earned before I got sick, I had to quit.
I remember the moment that I lost dance. I remember the exact moment when my fear, sadness and embarrassment won and I didn’t think it was worth trying anymore. The virus had taken dance from me too. I was on stage at the year-end dance recital. More than one person had made a comment about my weight gain including my dance teacher. I was on steroids post-transplant (very common) and gained a ton of weight. I got on stage right after a girl said to me “Laura, you used to be skinny, what happened?”. I had been so weighed down by everything I couldn’t retain any choreography anymore. I had no idea what I was doing. The music came on, I moved the best I could, my body didn’t seem to cooperate. I remember the music and costumes we were wearing and, in a move, where we were sitting on the floor, I looked out at the dark outline of the audience that I felt were watching me fail, and I quit.
I quit dance. I didn’t sign up the next year. I never went back. I could go on and on about other things I’ve quit after that. I quit Cégep (college) because I didn’t want to do the final project. I quit university because I didn’t want to take the hard classes. There’s was a significant period where I even quit getting out of bed. I’ve quit nearly everything I’ve ever started. I quit because I didn’t want to do hard things. I quit because I believed not only did the virus take away the things that made me happy, my friends, and even control over my own body, but I believed that I had had enough hard things in my life. Had I not done enough? Had I not suffered enough? Had I not survived enough? I was exhausted and sad, uncomfortable, and tired of having to do hard things. So, I stopped doing them. I wanted to be comfortable for once.
There is a huge problem with this story. I’m sure there are people that know me reading this now and thinking, who is she even talking about? Or at least I hope you’re thinking that. The problem is that I thought I was quitting. I thought I was a quitter. It was actually far worse than that. In that moment, when my new heart sank on that stage, when I believed the virus took dance from me too, I didn’t quit. I gave up. All this time I thought I was a quitter. Quitting isn’t even bad! Especially if it’s something that you don’t want to do anymore or doesn’t bring any value to your life. You have to quit things so you can try new things! But I wasn’t doing that. Quitting is ok and can even be important but giving up never is.
The virus didn’t take those things from me and it never will. I’m not upset that I quit those things. What did make me upset is the belief I could never do them again. I never thought I could dance again, I never thought I could get a degree, many of us don’t believe we’ll get through this insane pandemic. None of those thoughts are true.
After years of burying my pain I got to a point when I realized burying became harder than dealing with it. So, I stopped burying it. (This may be where my therapist friends may get excited. I’m sorry to disappoint you.) I realized my life was still my own and I needed to make it a heck of a lot better. First, I needed to get out of bed. My parents helped me a lot with this. (They bribed me. Who doesn’t like a good bribe?) Then I got a job. I started doing the hard, uncomfortable things. 7 years later, here I am. The healthiest I’ve ever been. My latest discovery, an online dance program that I absolutely love. I now dance in my living room 5 days a week.
Sometimes you really do have to let things go, but that doesn’t mean forever. The things you love will come back to you. You’ll get through it. I know you will. Stay safe ❤️