I wish the title of this post referred to the long road to my novel being accepted for publication, but alas, that is not the case.
Instead, it refers to what so much of my posts lately have dealt with - my health.
After another unproductive writing weekend due to poor health, I had a startling and rather frightening epiphany: I can no longer do everything I once did.
This is a staggering realization in more ways than one. I've always loved to travel, but now, just making the trip home to western Nebraska results in a flare up. How am I going to go to all the places I long to see - Italy, Germany, France, Austria? Those trips involve a lot more than getting in the car and driving to my destination!
Then there's taking care of the house. I am very blessed to have a husband that helps with the laundry, the cooking, and the cleaning. He's always been that way. But I want to pull my fair share of the chores, too, and I'm realizing that it takes all my energy sometimes just to vacuum.
Of course, the biggest fear I have is not being able to write everything that I want to write. On one level, I accept that I'll never be able to tell all the stories I want to tell because there are simply far too many. But I'm struggling with the projects I already have on my plate. Months ago, I had more energy and more enthusiasm - but the rheumatoid arthritis ebbs and flows in intensity, and right now, it's been keeping me down for the count more often than not.
I'll get them done - there's no fear of that. It's just that my timeline will be slower than usual.
And that is what is hard for me to accept. A slower pace. A reduced work load. Days when I simply don't have the energy or stamina to do the work. But there is always a voice in the back of my head that reprimands me on these days. It says, "You're being lazy. Get tough." And since I battle procrastination, I wonder if I'm using my health as an excuse to procrastinate.
But I instinctively know this is not the case. It's not laziness - it's inability.
Accepting that it is inability is the hard thing.
I once read a blog post from someone who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis who talked about the grieving process over his disease. I didn't understand exactly what he meant by grieving. Now I do. I grieve my lost energy. I grieve my pain-free existence. I grieve the fact that I will always have this disease - it's never going away.
There is a bright side to this.
I always come back to my writing. Why? Because that's who I am and what I do. I explore and understand my world through words. This will only lead to a richer, deeper, more meaningful life. And what is bad about that? Absolutely nothing.
But that's not all. I want others to see that suffering from chronic illness isn't the huge obstacle it appears to be. It is a mountain that needs to be climbed, yes, but you are not alone in climbing it. Others are right there with you, ready to lend a helping hand, ready to cheer you on as you take that next step.
We all have obstacles in life. Every single one of us. How we choose to look at those obstacles and overcome them is what defines us and shapes us and makes us into the person we want to be.
I'm choosing not to be bitter. I'm choosing to be positive. Does this mean I won't have down days and days where I complain and whine? Not at all. I'm only human, after all.
Acceptance is an ongoing process. On days like today (when the pain is bad and I just want to sleep), it's easier because I'm right in the grip of my illness. I know I can't do it all. But on the days when I feel better, I forget about those bad days and charge full steam ahead. Then, when I initially get hit with a flare up, acceptance is so hard. I'm on a good run and then slam headfirst into a brick wall.
I need to find a happy medium! But I'm working on it, and God is helping me through it. Trusting in Him is what I need to do. The peace I feel when I do that is immeasurable.
Sometimes I wonder if I should be this personal on my blog. But the answer always comes back to me as a resounding YES. If I can help even one person, if I can give them comfort or encouragement through my trials, then putting myself out there is worth it.