Last night I posted the following to my parenting message board (I’ve been online friends with this unbelievably awesome group of moms for over 10 years now) in hopes of gaining some insight, or even just some commiseration for an issue that’s been plaguing me lately:
Someone also suggested she ask herself whether any underlying fears were preventing her from creating her art, such as fear of failure, fear of success, or fear of not being good enough.
DING DING DING DING DING DING DING!!!
My internal bells went off as soon as I read this. Yes, I am often too tired and just outright fried to work on anything creative when I have the time to do so. That is valid. However, I also have the underlying fears mentioned above. And I think my initial insight was correct – that maybe a tiny part of me is comfortable in my rut, so I have difficulty doing things that might alter the state of existence I’ve become accustomed to, as sorry as that state is sometimes.
Finding comfort in my rut is unacceptable, and I must remedy this. As I said in a previous entry, I did not claw my way back from bizarre, isolating illnesses and despair only to exist in mediocrity for the rest of my life, too afraid to live. I begged for the chance to live again; it’s time to take it.
So, fuck the fear. I’m going to spend more time doing the things I love most: art and writing. Who cares if I’m no good? Who cares if I fail? Who cares if I succeed? If surviving illness has proven anything, it’s that I can handle things. I can handle adversity, and I can handle life.
I dont believe I came to this beautiful, insane planet just to sit on the sidelines biting my nails, watching other people live their lives, while too afraid to live my own. But my illness experience taught me that’s exactly what I’ve always done. When I was ill with MCS and I couldn’t participate in life, I felt like I was watching others with envy from afar. After all, that couldn’t be me. I couldn’t do the things everyone else did because our modern world with its ubiquitous chemicals made me extraordinarily ill. But I SO wanted to participate. Life felt like a cruel joke.
Looking deeper, I realized I had always been a mere observer in life – too afraid to participate, even though I could have participated. In this way, I wasted 30 years of my life. Well, it wasn’t a waste – it was the journey that led me to become the person I am, and all that crap. But regardless, I’m aware of the opportunities I missed throughout my life because of my fear of living. It’s time to show up for life now, in spite of the fear. It’s time to find the opportunities that scare me and dive in. I owe it to myself. I’ve survived too much already to just squander my second chance at living.
I realize I’ve already written about recognizing my underlying fears through processing my illness, but this recent insight has driven home just how pervasive these fears are in my life. I didn’t realize a simple lack of motivation could be rooted in fear. I’m sick of this shit.
So, I’ve got a message for the universe: I’m ready. I’m ready to show up for opportunities that scare me, and try to succeed even though I may fail. I’m ready to live an authentic life, in spite of the uncertainty and upheaval such a radical restructuring of my life would surely entail. Why? Because I’m worth it. My life is worth it. That’s why. That’s the only reason necessary, really. Every other reason is secondary to this vital truth which took decades for me to learn. But that’s okay. Better late than never, right? After all, there’s nothing wrong with being a late bloomer.
Also? Maybe I need to stop worrying so much, because maybe I’m exactly where I need to be at this stage of my life. Perhaps my years of fear and adversity provided the experiences I needed to finally show up for life. Maybe learning what I don’t want was a necessary factor in determining what I DO want, and a catalyst to push me forward into action. Maybe there’s actually a method to the madness we call life.
I must note that writing this post about my lack of motivation has paradoxically motivated me. I guess I should thank my lack of motivation for inadvertently uplifting me. Or thank myself. After all, I’m the one who decided to delve into this annoying issue rather than succumb to it, vegging out in front of crappy TV, shoving fistfuls of crappy food into my mouth, feeling sorry for myself. Go, me!
Actually, now that I’ve taken this time to write, and thus can breathe again, I think I will go veg out to crappy TV with those fistfuls of crappy food. But I’m not going to feel sorry for myself – I’m simply hungry.
So as not to end this post with a reference to my gluttony, here is a motivating post about fear of success. Good advice for us all, I think.
So, that last entry about my faulty thumbs? There’s a little more to that story.
I mentioned that I had begun writing about my thumb woes months ago but couldn’t manage to finish the post. But it was constantly on my mind. Every day I thought, “My thumbs hurt. I need to finish that blog post.” Every single day. Then, about a month ago on my way home from work, I added this thought: “I need to get my mind off this recurring sinus issue I’m having, because it’s stressing me out.”
Approximately 10 minutes later I exited my car and slammed my right thumb in my car door. Just slammed it right the fuck in the door. Then it stayed there as I scrambled to find my keys and unlock the door in order to free it. Then I almost passed out. Then I unloaded my groceries and drove myself to urgent care.
Long story short? My thumb is broken now. Hairline fracture, but still. A month later and I still can’t use it much, and need to keep it dry because of the disgusting wound right under my nail, which is bruised and will probably fall off eventually.
Now I REALLY can’t do collages now. Or write or draw. Isn’t that some shit?
You know what else? I’ll take you through some of the thoughts such an injury creates in a person with my fucked up health history:
“Will the doctor try to give me Cipro?”
“Will I be forced to educate a disbelieving and dismissive doctor about FQ adverse reactions?”
“I can’t mention MCS. I’ll have to downplay that one.”
“I’m sick as fuck of downplaying my health issues because modern medicine has not caught up to the reality of environmental illness.”
“OMG, I might have to downplay it for the rest of my life…which could potentially mean decades.”
“This is bullshit.”
“I feel depressed and alone.”
I did downplay my health issues at urgent care, refusing a tetanus shot because of my MCS, without outright saying I had MCS. Instead, I told the doctor that I have peripheral neuropathy from my adverse reaction to Cipro, which worsened the last time I received a shot (lidocaine). Therefore, I did not want a tetanus shot. In reality, the preservatives and/or immune system activation involved in such a shot has the potential to cause a huge backslide in my health, not just with increased peripheral neuropathy, but with increased chemical sensitivities. I cannot deal with that level of illness again. I haven’t even been able to write much about it, because of my residual PTSD.
True to form, the doctor scoffed, looked at me incredulously, and said, “You don’t want to get lockjaw, do you?” I said no, but I don’t want my peripheral neuropathy to flare, either. I’m sure he thought I was insane. From his perspective, I’m sure I looked insane. No hard feelings, doctor, in spite of you subsequently rushing me out of the office for “refusing treatment”, and in spite of your lack of awareness that FQs can cause permanent peripheral neuropathy. You know what else? I was refusing a tetanus shot, but I actually did want his other treatment recommendations. But because I felt rushed and mildly shamed, I didn’t communicate any of this. I just cradled my thumb and let a nurse show me the door.
I spent the next few days paranoid about getting tetanus. I began using homeopathic remedies, but since that did not assuage my fears, I decided to visit my natural-leaning MD to see if they had preservative-free tetanus shots. Sure enough, they did. Well, “as preservative-free as possible”, as he put it. Good enough for me. I got the shot and went back to work.
Then I spent the following week paranoid I was reacting to the shot because I was fatigued and my arm developed a large, red, warm, itchy spot. (That’s the hard part of surviving MCS – not knowing whether a side effect is normal, or indicative of an adverse reaction which will result in worsening health.) Symptoms gradually resolved, though. No worsening of chemical sensitivities have been noted so far. Now I’m paranoid about my thumb developing an infection, but trying to refrain from running to the doctor again.
The moral of this story, people, is a few things: A little bit “be careful what you wish for”, yes. Because I wished for a distraction from my sinuses and ended up with a broken thumb. But also? Watch your thoughts. Every day with the “My thumbs hurt.” Every damn day. And look: I attracted even more thumb pain into my life! (I’m kind of kidding, though a tiny part of me wonders if there is any law of attraction truth at work here. Yes, I am one of those people. Feel free to internally mock me, or stop reading this blog.)
I could use this opportunity to advocate positive thinking, but I’m feeling too cynical right now. Instead, I wish I could stop thinking altogether. Forget any kind of thinking, both positive and negative, because thoughts are bad. Thoughts are are terrible foes that make things happen. They break your thumbs, make you feel things, and keep you awake in the night.
One final realization: People with MCS (and FQ Toxicity) naturally develop a degree of paranoia because the illness often involves intense physical reactions to relatively benign substances. As such, any given chemical, or food, or prescription drug has the potential to cause misery and a worsening of overall health, requiring extreme diligence on the part of the sufferer in order to protect his or her health. However, mainstream medicine views this diligence as paranoia, and therefore a cause rather than an effect of the illness. They do not recognize the illness’s physiological roots, or that the resulting paranoia is a necessary aspect of survival – especially in a world where disbelief in the illness runs rampant. Mainstream medicine’s misconception of MCS actually forces sufferers to exercise greater caution in their healthcare options due to lack of external support and acknowledgement, making them appear all the more paranoid.
What a vicious circle, the irony of which has been duly noted.
Now, I would like to stop thinking about this vicious circle and carry on with my day. But please, universe, don’t break any more of my fingers or thumbs. I’ll find my own distractions from these unpleasant thoughts, thank you very much. Also? I enjoy my ability to think, so please don’t take my thoughts away just because I complained about them. Okay? Okay.