The sun is shining today. It shone yesterday, but I couldn't see it. Yes, with my eyes, I could see it, blurry and limited though it was, but with my mind, I couldn't. There was no sun for me yesterday, and yet I walked through the day, step by step. I loved and cared for and taught my children. I kept a safe, secure rhythm in their day, and fed them nutritious, healthy food. I took them swimming for exercise, and listened to their little stories. I gave my hubby extra free time to work on an important project. I cooked a special dinner. I chatted with friends, and fed the cats. I talked to my mom and supported her as best I could. Yet I did it all under a terrible, vicious darkness that made me feel at times that I almost couldn't breathe.
So many things seem to push me down. On some days, the post-stress depression that I battle every minute threatens to drown me. Additional stress makes it much worse, and the stress of months of adoption, adjustment and four surgeries in six months sometimes feels like its killing me, in spite of the meds that keep it at bay. Every day, the chronic pain that is my constant companion wears on me. Pain in my back from scoliosis, tipped pelvis and various little deformities adds up to cause muscle spasms that send fire up and down my spine and saps my energy. I have exercise-induced asthma, so when I try to follow the doctor's suggestion to do cardio workouts and lose weight, the asthma squeezes pain into my lungs, in spite of the meds and inhalers. My erratic blood sugars and hypoglycemia make me feel shaky and tired if I vary one iota from my careful, precise diet and schedule. Low vision, migraines, just having a nasty cold last week... all of these things pile onto me, threatening to pull me down.
So, I fight. I fight with everything inside of me to not be grouchy to my kids, to listen to my husband, to face the next day that looms in front of me with terrifying regularity. I fight to plow through pain and fear and fatigue. Every night, I fall into bed, utterly exhausted, physically, emotionally, mentally.
I feel alone in this fight, but I am not. My hubby, for one, fights alongside me. It brings me to tears that he has chosen to love me and to fight beside me, making my fight his own, because he really didn't have to. Back when we were dating, there were those who told him I was not worthy of his love. He was told not to waste his love on me, because I was too hard, too much work. I was too broken. But he saw past the health problems, and the trouble they would bring him. He saw me as a person worthy of his time and his love. Back then, I did not see myself that way at all. I agreed with those who said I was broken and hiding behind a mask of frenetic activity and achievement. Even sometimes today I'm tempted to think that I am too messed up to be worth anything at all.
I rarely share this side of myself publicly. I rarely blog about it; I rarely talk about it. I want to read back over the good times in my blog, to remind myself that life is beautiful and good and sweet, even if I cannot see it. I fear being judged and misunderstood. I fear criticism, for it's rampant, and depression picks it up like a radio signal and amplifies it until it is all I can hear. I even fear well-meaning advice, since it implies that I'm not doing everything I can to manage the pain that has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It's not from a desire to hide that I refrain from talking about the personal struggles that I share here. Part of it is that sharing too much about this stuff smacks of whining and attention-grubbing, which I loathe. Part of it is that it's simply not necessary. Today, though, some friends are really struggling, and it helps to know that they are not alone.
Sometimes, it's okay to be real.
It is okay for me to be difficult to love.
I love people who are difficult. Many of the people I love are difficult to love. They hurt me and push me away time and again, and I still love them and forgive them. Everyone is difficult to love sometimes.
What I'm learning lately is to love and forgive myself.
I don't want to be sick. I want to be healthy and perfect and full of energy. I want to delight in my life and in my family and my work.
Instead, I must fight to see the sun. I must fight to get out of bed every morning. I must ask my husband to love me through some incredibly hard days. I must ask my children to accept me with all the faults and failings that I have, when I'm grouchy or tired or can't do all of the activities they would like to do. I must ask my friends to be my friends even though I feel unworthy of their friendship and sometimes push them away too, only to battle crushing loneliness and rejection. Every morning, I cry out for divine help to get through the day. And somehow, every night, I have received the help I needed.
Somehow, my broken life is becoming something beautiful in me and my family, as I follow step by step. As I fight to see the sun, I discover I can love those who also walk in darkness. While writing this, I weep, because it comes from deep inside my heart. I'm learning to love from a heart of compassion for others who hurt. Because I can't see, I love a daughter and a son who also can't see, and I have such respect for others in the blind community who fight prejudice and physical limitation to simply live a full life. I understand and care for others who have chronic pain, or who live with mental health issues. Lately, my daughter's joy and zest for life has begun teaching me that she does not see herself as broken, and I don't see her as broken, so why was I seeing myself that way?
I'm learning to put aside impatience with those who are small or petty, with those to whom life comes too easily, who don't understand a daily battle, an hourly battle, and who say hurtful, ignorant things. Life is too beautiful to let them add more to the load I already carry, and while I cannot choose to offload some things that cause me pain, those comments and opinions can slip away and leave me free of them if I choose to let them.
Today is another step. From day to day, I never know how much I will be able to see, both physically or mentally. On the dark days, I hold His hand and simply place one foot in front of the other. On days like today, I look up and see the sun. And smile.