This past week I’ve been off. There’s no reason for it. I didn’t even really
know it was happening. I had something important and positive scheduled I was
really mad at myself for scheduling it because I didn’t want to go. I was
giving the people around me a hard time for no reason. I was restless and
uncomfortable in every part of my life. I had tears on standby for about four
days and I didn’t know why. Everybody has an off week at some point, so I
figured it was just that. It just seemed like there was more to it. Then I realized that it was June.
I don’t even really think I knew it was June. I haven’t been paying close attention to dates lately and I didn’t really know it was already a week into June. I started thinking about it more. It’s a month full of potential milestones. Graduation ceremonies are being advertised and prom pictures are filling social media. Graduation means hope and promise. It means a lifetime of work is about to be rewarded. It’s the big leap into the rest of your life, for some of us.
June means the end of school trips and celebrating with friends. There are
ceremonies, wedding celebrations, events, and parties. June is the first month
of summer and has the longest sunny days of the year. Then why have I been so
grouchy and down? I want to uproot my life and leave. I want to abandon
everything and disappear. Why? And why during one of the most exciting months of
What if it’s because my body is smarter than me? Sometimes I feel like the
memories I’ve forgotten or buried still live deep in my bones. My body
remembers, even if my mind doesn’t. Not only was this week the first week I’d
ever really been in a hospital 21 years ago, but it was the first time I’d ever
been scared while being poked and injected and drugged up. This is the week I
almost died, and I think my body remembers it.
I only remember it in flashes. I remember random faces and having tubes and
wires coming out of places you wouldn’t have expected. Lately, I have a
tendency of looking at memories as if I were a bystander. I watch instead of
experience. While looking back, I wasn’t in the hospital bed this time, I was
standing outside the room looking in through one of the windows. And all I kept
thinking was, how did she do it?
I’d never asked that question before. People call me strong all the time and
I just think, what other options were there? I’ve never felt strong, I just
felt like I had to do it. But looking back and seeing myself as if I were a
random kid going through that made me sad for her. How did that kid do it? Not
only did I experience an insane amount of fear, pain, and confusion, but just
as the dust started to uncomfortably settle, 11 days into being admitted to a
hospital for the first time in my life, my grandpa died. I’d never experienced
loss before. On the same day, I lost my heart and my grandpa. How did I do it?
It’s crazy how a memory can come along and wallop you 21 years later. I was
having a perfectly normal time, bopping along through life, minding my own
business, and BAM! I also feel like I’m going backwards in life. I graduated in
June three years ago. I got a great job, was promoted within a year, and moved
into a pretty darn nice apartment with my cat. Just like we all dream of doing.
Right? Anyway, I’ve failed. Well, not really. I’m giving that all up (not the
cat though!) and working on my health for a while. Is that a failure? When I
see the grad photos and prom pics, it sure feels like a failure.
I sometimes feel like since the transplant I’ve only had to give things up.
I remember the first thing I gave up was doing well in school. I couldn’t make
up the lost time. Then it was swimming. I couldn’t keep up with the endurance
swims. Then I just got used to giving things up. The list never ended. June
reminds me of that. It reminds me of everything I’ve given up. I’ve been
feeling like I’ve failed at life. I did everything right and have gotten
nowhere. But just like what comes after the graduation ceremony, maybe June
could be a month of opportunity and excitement instead. The great thing about
giving things up is that you now have space for something new!
I think it’s actually ok to feel down and grieve parts of your life. You
can’t manage your feelings. Trust me, it’s much better just to feel them
because you don’t want them walloping you in the face out of nowhere in 21
years. It’s ok for me to let myself feel down about a loss, as long as I know
it’s not the truth. As long as I’m alive, I will not be a failure. How could I
be? Changing paths, trying new things, and choosing yourself, will never make
you a failure. It’s ok to grieve a vision you once had that didn’t happen. And
it’s ok to grieve over and over (and over) as you grow and change throughout
your life. Let yourself be sad about the ending and then pick yourself up and
get excited at the opportunity to create a brand-new vision for yourself!
I don’t know where I’m going to end up but I’m excited. I’m excited about
whatever I come up with. Whatever it is, I know I’ll be ok. 🙂