Often it takes losing something you didn’t expect to appreciate the things you need.
Perhaps you lost someone close in your life, or maybe you’ve lost your job and financial security. Every day we collectively overcome unexpected obstacles. Every day we keep calm and carry on with living life through our social constructs. We work hard and play harder. We make choices and control our own lives.
For me, I’ve momentarily lost control. My health has spiraled down between the ages of 16 and 21 – the last 12 months have been especially hard. And, almost every week there is a new symptom. I am not sick, but I am unwell.
Each day it is getting harder to get out of bed, and almost every evening I am throwing up bile, mucus and blood. My legs ache at night with a sharp throbbing, the tremble in my hands grows worse each day. I need tablets to help me sleep and coffee to wake me up. I use 3 different types of pain killers, and most days I can’t tell exactly how effective they are. I break out in rashes so frequently I am required to sleep with gloves on at night. I have hot flushes regularly. I black out in the shower when it’s a bad day. I have allergies to an ever increasing amount of food, and an immune system so low that is guaranteed to catch any virus I come into contact with. My eye muscles are inverted causing frequent vision problems and my muscles throughout my body can’t stop spasming triggering a ripple effect for everything above. I have a damaged nerve in jaw that is causing my body to go into overdrive. There is no one thing wrong with me, only dozens of symptoms and no answer to what is causing them. Each day it is getting harder to get out of bed.
I am a meticulous planner – I write lists and plan meals, I always have plans weeks in advance and have always had a goal for a few years in the future. I am independent and always want to prove my worth. I want to be the best version of myself possible. However, this has become problematic. I can no longer plan as each day is a gamble to how I will be feeling and what I can accomplish in the hours I’m awake. I am not the best version of myself. I am a completely different version of myself. This shift away from the future for the first time in my life has channeled my introverted mindset into the present.
What matters to me today?
It took losing control for me to understand how much we need support in our lives. It is not just the fact we need support, but it is the importance of who we choose for support that is important. I have heard others explain how getting sick changes lifestyles of friends. The reality is people don’t come over and watch movies on the couch with you on a dark day, they don’t want to see you throwing up after eating or hear about the leading theory your doctor has. They want you at your best, they want things to be normal. Of course, there are exceptions, friends who support and love you at your darkest moments. They however are few in numbers.
I have discovered a new, profound appreciation of the unconditional love of a family.
My family lives predominantly in Sydney, yet I do not feel the distance. I feel their warmth and support every day. Some days are dark and I don’t want to talk, and they respect that. They never stop making themselves available to talk and listen when I am ready. In the past few weeks I have learnt much more about my core values from witnessing the love of family members I sometimes go months without speaking to because of my own negligence. The shared experiences of a family are the foundation of unconditional love. We experience the same celebrations, the same deaths and mourning, the same heartbreak and longing, the same excitement and pride. We understand each other without words needing to be said.
If you asked me 12 months ago if I wanted to have my own family one day, I wouldn’t be able to give you a definitive answer. Today, it is a powerful yes. I want to share the joy and sadness of life with my own family, passing on the things my whole extended family has taught me. I have been taught how to love, how to hold on and how to let go. I have climbed mountains I never imagined and celebrated with those who I adore more than anything else thanks to the power of family love. I want to share the beauty and joy of living for the rest of my life. When I am scared, someone is there to comfort me. When I am lonely, they are a phone call away. When I am overwhelmed they are around to ground me.
I lost myself, and was put back together with the love of family. Whenever I think there is nothing more for them to teach me, I am always wrong. This year, they’ve taught me to love endlessly, passionately and unconditionally. To always love. Even when you lose yourself, you are not lost in others. You are never truly alone.
I love my family with all of my heart.
I have been moulded from their experiences, and shaped by their influences. I am grateful to be on this continual journey with them.