Number Two Pencils Only

juliann

I parked myself on the living room couch, and out flowed tears. Streams of tears. Enough tears to replenish the water supply here in California. I could have drowned myself in them. That’s how I felt in that moment. Like I was sinking in an ocean of uncertainty, frustration, and the unknowns of this health excursion that began back during my junior year of college. I had all the questions, but no explanations. “If only I could identify the root cause of all this. How can I relieve myself from this pain without harming my body more? How could I be so frail and broken, and yet, no one can figure out what is wrong? Should I do this treatment? What about the side effects? If only I could pinpoint exactly what it is that is causing all this activity. Then, it would be a whole lot easier. If only…” Thoughts. So many thoughts. All kinds of thoughts. I sought remedies, I begged for answers, and I yearned for healing. My body was gradually deteriorating, and I was powerless.

Sometimes, that’s the thing with autoimmune diseases: the most conclusive answer is inconclusive, and you just have to accept it.

There’s no concrete rationalization for why your body resolves to attack itself, why it just decides to set off a reaction to destroy its own healthy tissues. For years, my routine consisted of doctor visits, hospital stays, and lab work and procedures. And driving. I spent more time scurrying around in my car and staying put in medical buildings than I did at home. I had taken medical leave from my academics and was forced to shift my priorities over from graduating from college to taking care of my body. It was not the most ideal situation any 20-year-old would ever want to find themselves in. Many nights, I longed for the college experience—to spend time with friends until we were sick of each other, to study on the beach while observing the most wondrous sunsets, to stay up into the wee hours of the morning binging on Disney movies and laughing our brains out even though we had 8am midterms to attend to, to drive around Southern California late at night to visit friends at other universities just because we could. Instead, I found myself in bed. All my attention and energy went into dealing with my health crisis. That was my life. In my weakness, I was battling an unidentified monster. I was fighting for my life. It was draining and suffocating to my soul, like someone decided to place me in a vacuum sealer and then began to draw out all the air, little by little.

And then I had to remind myself to stop listening to the liars. I repeat, STOP LISTENING TO THE LIARS.

Just as much as it is a physical battle, it is also a mental, emotional, and spiritual throw-down. There is something about chronic illness that feeds you lies, and heaps of them. Those dirty little liars creep around, finding you in your most vulnerable state. They taunt you inside your ear: you’re incapable, you’re being a burden, you’re on this road alone, no one cares about you, you’re unvalued, you’re useless to society, you’re missing out on everything. All those blasted deceivers are just searching for ways to tear you down because they recognize your true potential. They know you can reach souls, and that you are a world changer. So, stop letting the liars grow. Stop giving them credit. Stop letting them chain you down from things you want to pursue. You are the one holding yourself back, not your condition. You deserve to live, and you deserve to live fully.

Someone once told me to write the plans I had for myself in pencil only.   

I am a planner. I etch in my calendar goals and dreams, lists of things to accomplish, and then proceed to set deadlines for myself: one-year goals, five-year goals, and personal expectations. But life sometimes whites them out in your agenda, and inscribes other things it has for you. You have to trust that those other things are good for you in the long run even though it might not seem so now. Don’t let your life be defined by whatever milestones society says you should achieve and when you should achieve them. We all do it, we compare ourselves. Stop comparing yourself. Remember that we each have our own unique timelines.

It’s necessary to live life unscripted sometimes.

The healing journey has often asked that of me, as unexpected turns can suddenly appear and I must be flexible. Many times, you are requested to go deeper into the fire so you can arise from it more refined. Sometimes, you just need to be brave in your struggles even though you don’t know how to be brave. But know you have support through every step. You are never alone, even when everything seems like it’s been shaken to the core.

I never would have predicted my life to be where it is now, but I’m exactly where I should be. Life happens. That mudslide plummeting downward will be out of your control. You won’t be able to stop it. Let it be out of your control so it’s able to run its natural course.

We don’t know nearly as much as we think we do, and we control even less than we know.

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