After an almost unbearably long and miserable winter, I find that I am practically jumping out of my skin with a renewed sense of self. It’s a renaissance of sorts, a feeling that I have finally, dare I even write it down, started to feel stronger, better, happier.
When I sat down to analyze this feeling of lightness and peace of mind, it became very clear that there had been something very wrong, and for quite some time. I was so fatigued in those winter months, and feeling so unwell, I just couldn’t summon up the energy to speak up or do anything about it. I couldn’t protect myself from people who hurt my feelings, or made me sad, or anxious or afraid. It was easier to just let bad things happen than to exert the energy required to fix them.
But something snapped a few weeks ago. I found my voice, and I am not afraid to use it.
I am feeling better. I am rid of the rare pneumonia that cleared my lungs in November only to reappear with a vengeance in my brain in December. I survived the seizure and emergency brain surgery that followed. I came to terms with the twenty-seven Frankenstein-like staples that angrily claimed my bald head. I have recovered from the fall I took down a flight of stairs resulting in a fractured sacrum and months of back pain. How could things not be looking up?
But there is more!
Every doctor, every pamphlet, website, nurse, transplant survivor will tell you that the most important thing along your road to recovery is to put yourself first. “This is a time to focus on you,” they’ll repeat. I can’t count the times I remember solemnly nodding my head in agreement, using confirmatory words like, “yes,” “absolutely,” of course!” But the truth is, I didn’t actually get it, and I certainly didn’t know how to implement it.
Things have changed.
Putting yourself first means getting rid of people or things that do not make you feel good. It’s as simple as that. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure that out, but voilà. Better late than never.
Maybe it’s a lover who doesn’t make you feel loved, or beautiful, or proud of each and every tiny little step you climb along your long road to recovery. Maybe it’s a friend who checks in on you so infrequently you need a 2-hour nap to recover from the exertion of filling her in. It could be a waitress who rolls her eyes at you as you explain your strict (medical) dietary needs. P.S. This is NY. If you’re not on a special diet, you probably shouldn’t live here.
Now comes the hard part. Without fear or hesitation, you must sweep all of these Negative Nates and Nancys into a big Hefty bag and drop them out the window. Maybe they’ll recycle back into your life, and maybe they won’t. It doesn’t matter. Make a commitment to surround yourself with supportive, encouraging, positive people who make you feel like the strong, brave, beautiful woman you are. Everyone and everything around you should confirm and enhance those qualities, not take away from them.
Similarly, do not force yourself to do things you don’t feel like doing. Only you are in your body, and only you know how you feel. If you don’t want to go to the gym to rebuild your bony little legs, then don’t! Maybe you’d rather walk to the park and look up at the trees. Maybe it’s easier for you to get your exercise while window-shopping (I get a surprisingly long walk in when there are stores around…) Maybe all you want to do is eat a big fat coconut gelato. Drag your skinny butt to the shop and buy it! As long as you are moving and getting fresh air, you will be fine. Rest when you are tired, even if that means you rest a lot. Listen to your body and do what it tells you to do. And, as always, boring as it is, listen to your doctors and follow instructions ;)
The sun has finally decided to grace us with its presence here in New York City. Soak it all up (wear sunscreen) and let it breathe new life, new passions and joy, love, laughter and light into your life. Out with the bad, in with the good.
Now let your inner light shine.