“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
That’s what begins Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
I feel Dicken’s intro to A Tale of Two Cities. Sometimes there is truly the best of times and the worst of times that can only confound. As with Dicken’s infamous initial run-on sentence in A Tale of Two Cities, I may have a really long run-on sentence in this entry that even matches Dickens (literally and metaphorically).
There is so much to be said at this time that contrasts each other, just as Dickens was attempting to describe. I’m sure you too, have those ‘run on sentences’ in your own life that bring yourself to a dizzying conflict of your own best of times and worst of times that somehow strangely co-exist in a single season of your life.
This is my list of vulnerabilities filled with my best and worst of times that I would never usually share, but that my husband prayed I would.
I love the quote by Viktor Frankl, a man who was a survivor in a Nazi Germany concentration camp who survived in part, by utilizing the philosophical stamp on his heart and mind that just doesn’t seem to make sense, especially in our Western culture.
If we are breathing, heart beating, and cellular process that keeps us intact is functional, then there must be a reason we exist. If we exist, we must face the inevitable challenge of suffering. My driving force is a sovereign God who suffers alongside me, and the holy burden to help those in need when I am more capable, and even when I feel so incapable, I hope that I can somehow be an impact- even if it is in a very minute way. Those statements of purpose are the stamp I hold in my heart and mind….at least that’s what I remember in the best of times.
In the Best of Times….
- I grab my ‘Thankful Journal’ where I chronicle the many sources
of gratitude that has spilled into my life. They range from the beautiful words from others, people of advocacy and diligent hands who have worked for a cause- a cause for me…which I never anticipated. The list continues with the many sources of gratitude which have filled my heart. I wish I could acknowledge every person with their name on this site, but I also know the list would be comparable to a decent sized novella. 😉
- On the note of websites and gratitude, a BIG thank you goes out to Jordan Mulson for his beautiful design of the blog which has blown me away and Kurt Jaros’ tech savvy tech savvy skills that I am in awe of. It has been a huge present to me in these times- you will never know just how much. I would not be writing these words if it were not for you guys. :)…or medical support and breakthroughs.
- I remember how I was only able to read a few sentences and how I have been mightily blessed to read so much more than I could a year ago. Even though I may stutter at times when I read out loud, it is still a huge accomplishment to have growth.
- I am so thankful to God that He has providentially brought my husband into my life:
- a husband who would literally tear out his own heart if he knew it meant I could live
- a husband who is so in touch with my emotions
- I am told slumps to the ground and sheds a ‘man tear’ on my rough days- the days where he doesn’t know how to help me
- a husband who is willing to fight with such vigor to restore my health
- a husband who is so intuitive that he has woken up in the middle of the night out of his slumber because he has a knowing from God that I simply want an end to the turmoil. He gives me an unexpected hug and speaks life into my own that can only be an echo from Someone greater than he. So thankful.
- he is a man who is truly willing to live out the vows that are more than mere words to him
- a husband who knows he is not the savior, but looks to one who has marked his soul, enlightening him that there is One who steps in to carry the wearisome burdens
- a husband I love more now through this season of unexpected turmoil than I ever could before.
- God has a reason for our suffering, Michael, even though I do not know the why’s now.
Photo Credit to Kati Rosado (on bottom photo)
In the Best of Times….
- I am filled with thanksgiving for parents who give even when they do not have the obligation to do so. The whole household (mom, dad, hubbie) has chipped in to:
- empty urinals (super humbling to me)
- cook meals (humbling again)
- stand (or sit) by my side in times of crises
- offer Rx pills, supplements, and prayer to at least subdue the bad episodes…and our dog, Lucky’s companionship.
- I am overwhelmed by the sacrifices made by my family that goes so unnoticed. I wish there was a caregiver day to shower praise over these unspoken heroes.
- I hold to hope for the future and fight for wellness with every ounce I have to muster. I have those ‘good days’ that give me a taste of better health and the hope of total wellness.
- I remember the days where I only had one small meal a day and how there have been some who have lovingly fed me with whatever they had to offer. (I never thought I would actually have hunger pangs and no solution to alleviate them.) I look at food entirely different now, and I hope this never changes.
- my tongue utters what my mind believes- that God is still good, that this plight is NOT in vain, that one day, the trials will make sense.
- I recall how my life was saved through prayers, unexpected love offerings, the hands of physicians, and ultimately, the hand of God.
- I can actually watch films now (YAAAY!) albeit, on a small screen 😉
- I recall how I used to twitch around more, convulsions would occur almost hourly, that seizing would happen simply from moving upright- so thankful for progress, so thankful this isn’t my today.
- I remember how I would faintly hear my family crying because they were terrified of the circumstances – so thankful again for progress.
- I carry so much joy when the household sounds like Steve Martin and Steve Carrel stopped by our house because the laughter is that loud at times.
- I am so appreciative that my immune system is strengthening to the point where I can actually endure certain buildings I was not able to before.
- I remember how my med switch has lowered a good deal of side effects. Wow, BIG DEAL.
- I offer praise to God, because He is still holy, magnificent, and loving even when my circumstances seem to say contrary.
- I find myself burdened by the many lives that suffer more than my own. Oh, how I have it good compared to those who have been sex trafficked, those who are disabled and deemed by a caste system unworthy of love, for those who have been completely abandoned by true love and only know the hand of abuse….the list could continue. My heart is burdened by these precious souls who remind me that self-pity is not an option.
- I am humbled, reduced to love, and look to a greater purpose through an Author that is still penning this messy life that is so undeserving of His pen strokes of grace. That is the mindset I hold to on the best of times, but not….
In the Worst of Times…
- I listen too closely to the cacophony of confusion from physicians instead of searching the One who created my very DNA.
- I shamefully scream to God to take my life when the pain hurts too much to bear.
- I hyper-focus on the on the jolts of EXTREME embarrassment that arise when my brain commands my body to move without my permission…like my leg shooting up in the air in public or my head slumping to the left side while drool dribbles down from my mouth and onto my chin. Thankfully this does not always happen, but I can only imagine what people may think when they do see these strange occurrences.
I feel guilt assail me because:
- I’m not an easy fix which makes me feel all the more guilty with the onlookers peering into my life. I thought I would be doing cartwheels by this point, or at least fit enough to walk around the block. I thought this season would have already ended with a fat period at the end. I am so sorry it hasn’t.
- Since the beginning, I have felt like the one to blame: people now have to take care of me, which can make me feel like a tiresome burden. When stress mounts over our situation I feel like the one to blame.
- I never wanted anyone to funnel money into me because I felt (and still feel) so undeserving. I am so appreciative and ASTOUNDED for the caring individuals who poured into my life but I again, feel like a burden and oh so undeserving. I want to be the one giving, so it is very difficult to be on the receiving end…it certainly drives me to abundantly give all the more when I’m able.
I’m freaked out by:
- the times I’m not able to chew and swallow properly. Food spews outside of my mouth without my control. Sometimes I can’t even feed myself. This wasn’t supposed to happen while I was in my twenties.
- watching videos of myself my husband used for documentation for docs, that’s turned into documenting this journey…I usually have to pretend I’m watching someone else in the film or turn my head in a somewhat form of denial. I don’t want that image to be me.
- falling-I’ve fallen so many times thinking I can do _______ activity on my own. Recently I threw out my pelvis when I fell off the toilet seat and onto the hard tile. This not only stung physically, it also stung emotionally, for the natural drive is to be self-sufficient.
- the fact that I worked at a nursing home and an assisted living facility filled with older people who I pushed in wheelchairs, wrote incident reports when they fell, and fed them meals when they couldn’t themselves. I never thought I would be on the receiving end so soon.
- being told I shouldn’t be left alone by an Occupational Therapist. Then hearing I should consider having a baby railing around the bed since I fall so easily at times.
- the times where it feels like I’m in a father/daughter relationship with my own husband. “I want to do/go ____”. I’ll willfully protest. He chastises me to tell me I can’t. Undesirable repercussions generally follow, yet I want to exercise my independence. Even though we have a great love for each other, there can be tense moments where I want to ‘do’ but he says “no.” These were not circumstances we ever discussed in pre-marriage counseling for sure!
I love you, Michael, even in the moments when you act like your my new dad. 😛 I know after I yelled at you a little that you are simply trying to protect me.
I feel like I’m not able to achieve which frustrates me to pieces:
- When I took a test to discover your strengths, being an achiever was one of them. Not being able to achieve due to physical limitations can honestly make me feel utterly worthless. Being trapped in bed, reliant on others, and simply…not able can truly shake my psyche.
- I expected to have achieved a grad degree in Psychology by now.
- I expected to have had a steady career.
- I expected to have a place of my own independent of my parents.
- I expected to be on my way to having children of my own who depended on me.
- I expected to have a working car that I can freely drive.
- I expected to be autonomous with basic needs, walking freely, bathing independently, the list continues. This one is an unspoken expectation I think most carry.
- I expected so many things, but I’ve learned through these circumstances that we are not as in control as what we may think.
In the Worst of Times…
- There are times where I want to get those Walmart-like smiley faces and replace those with the faces that have
really hurt me in this season. At least if they smiled with their ‘yellow skin’ I could create a positive spin on the hurt….But this reminds me of my need to forgive all the more, and how much I’ve already been forgiven.
- There’re times when I’ve screamed at God for allowing this to happen, and for allowing my husband’s health to falter from taking care of me. Both Michael and I have fallen into our own painful existential crises when clouds of confusion settle. We struggle in our own humanity to find solutions and palpable comfort.
- I can sometimes feel more hopeless now than I did at the start of this down-spiral. I look for the end, but at times there only seems to be a dark tunnel that has pokes of light coming through from the top. I don’t see the light from the seemingly expansive tunnel, only the piercing of light from the blessings I have had through this journey. This blog’s main focus is to be idealistic while retaining the reality of life. Michael has to continually pray for the idealistic hope to marry the realism that I focus on so heavily on these particular days.
- I grab photos of the past and cry, wishing with all my might I could resurrect the happy memories of the past and relive those moments today that are now only pixelations of yesteryear. This is when I forget there is hope for a future and a need for contentment in the present.
- There’re more “worst times” that fill the lines of my journal. There are unnamed struggles I have to wrestle with, but I am so grateful I am not alone in the process.
I remember the dramatic, yet poetic 90 something year old man I talked with on a daily basis at the ALF I was working. We would recite lines together- Shakespeare’s prologue from Romeo and Juliet, Emily Dickinson, Whitman, and others all while he was picking “bugs” out of his soup. This was really pepper by the way but convincing him it was flakes from a shaker was futile so I continued with the lines from Emily Dickinson.
“I am nobody, who are you? Are you nobody too? Then there’s a pair of us….” Tumultuous situations can leave us with the feeling of being a “nobody.” We seem left alone in this state. Depression follows the lie that we are alone to bear the name of a “nobody.” Yet there is always a pair, at the very least a pair. If anyone is reading this, you are not a nobody. That is the message I want imprinted on these last lines. If I fall into this this pattern of thinking, then I know someone else must as well, for many of us are left with those conflicting yet truthful lines in A Tale of Two Cities. I’m sure the overly dramatic “bug picking” dear man would also have Dickens’ words in the deep recesses of his memory, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”
Side Note: This has taken me a little over two months to write. It’s been exhausting in more ways than one but I felt the need 1) to ensure everyone knew I was alive 😉 and 2) with the hope that in some way someone doesn’t feel alone in their struggles.
Credit to free pic for the wreath design in the top photo.