On this last day of the current year, I have to take time to write about exactly why I have detested this year so very much….and professed that detestation before the year even began. A little lengthy, but reads quickly and I think it’s worth it.
Before I get into that, though, I do make a practice of counting my blessings, so a quick rundown of several blessings I’ve had this year, the worst year of my life (no exaggeration although I’ll admit there probably seems to be a bit of melodrama in that statement. It wasn’t intended but I’ve mused on it enough by now that you can either choose to read the melodrama or ignore it. Reader’s choice here.). BUT, in all seriousness, there have been several blessings this year and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention at least a few of them.
In no particular order:
1. The majority of February and March, I spent every weekday morning/afternoon at my nannie’s house–Rog dropped me off before school and I was there till school finished. Those days where we were able to just sit and talk were blessings every time. I learned things about her life I had never known, we watched Millionaire during lunch, and sometimes she’d even get in my morning nap spirit with me and we’d both get a much needed nap around 9 or 10 o’clock. I will always treasure those days.
2. Having my parents in town lends blessings, for sure, not the least of which is, if we ask, they are able to step in and help with things Rog and I can’t get done because Rog spends a lot of time just taking care of me. They also have been a great help at navigating the insurance mayhem that comes with all this because I can’t speak well enough to converse with insurance companies and Rog has the best immune system in the world (praise God!) so he hasn’t had to deal with contacting insurance much at all. It’s also a blessing that I’m able to be on mom and dad’s insurance till November of 2014. Wow, that is just a blessing on steroids.
3. The overwhelming love and support of our church family, and Sunday school family, and life group family. Too many things to list but all of you have been tremendous blessings to Rog and me this year. And of course, the same goes for our family family–we have some of the best extended family members who have made themselves available whenever needed. Love all families listed here.
4. Connecting with a new friend from across town who fully understands this Lyme fight and with whom I’m able to have a mutual support system (even though we still haven’t met in person, technically, since we can’t really leave the house all that much….Christina, as soon as we’re able, we’re remedying this!), and strengthening friendships with a wonderful woman I’ve known quite literally my entire life (although Amber probably knows more about me in my first few years than I do!), and being able to support each other as we both travel this Lyme road, search for answers and a cure. Also, for the Lyme community I’ve connected with on twitter–you are all amazing, each and every one of you, and I don’t know what I’d do without you all.
And there are many more, but in interest of length I’ll hold off for now, and I’ll get to the actual point of this post.
I don’t do the number between 12 and 14. Ever. In any way. But I seem to encounter it more than most people I know. A good 75-80% of the time I click “like” on someone’s Facebook post without checking the number of likes beforehand, there will have been 12 people click like before me. When someone is changing the volume number on the TV, probably a good 50% of the time they will stop on that number because it sounds right and they don’t pay attention to the numbers until I point it out and mandate the TV either be just a little too quiet or just a little too loud. The list goes on and on, and I’m not superstitious by nature, but I’ve had a diagnosed case of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder since I was a little kid. And of course, since I’m not a superstitious person as far as superstitious beliefs go (because I trust God has everything under control), my OCD latches itself onto every superstition it can find. Including that number between 12 and 14.
So you see, this year has been a particularly rough one for me. My goal was to not say the year number aloud, not even once, the entire year. Terrible things would happen if I said it aloud. I remember very distinctly the first time I slipped up and said it–April 21, when I was helping my sister with a works cited page format. And I was very sick the next day. The only other times I’ve said it since are the few times I had to access patient records over the phone or make a call to a doctor. 5 times. Tops.
But let’s not forget that I predicted probably the hardest experience I (and my family) had to endure during this year that falls between 2012 and 2014.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, literally minutes before the new year started, I told Rog I just knew something bad was going to happen to someone I love in the upcoming year. More specifically, I even named a list of 7 people, including myself, and said that one of those 7 was going to die this year. Yes, I know that sounds morbid, and it probably is, but that’s the amount of dread I had for the year that was to come. And this prediction I made not even three months after my granddad went home to be with Jesus, which made it even harder to stomach. But I felt it as sure as you feel the sense of dread you have when you realize you left the gas stove on but have already driven two hours away from home and there’s no one who can get to your house to check and make sure it hasn’t burned down and then turn off your stove. I didn’t WANT it to be true, but before this year even started, I KNEW it would be.
And then on February 16, my worst nightmare came true–my great aunt passed away after several days in ICU, an admission which had taken us all by surprise because, all things considered, for an 86 year-old she was in good health. And yes, she was on the list of 7 people I had named a month and a half prior, so obviously my OCD did what it does best and wouldn’t leave me alone–I was not only experiencing the loss of someone with whom I held countless precious memories, and doing so just 4 months after going through the same heartache of losing my granddad (her brother), but I also was dealing with unbearable guilt, obsessively saying to myself, “this was my fault…I spoke that list aloud…I did this…” And despite all the logic in the world that reassures me I had nothing to do with it, I’d be lying if I said the feelings weren’t still there–normally more dormant but occasionally making their presence known more than I’d ever prefer.
And I won’t write too awful much about this next section because honestly, this next part is why I created this blog months ago. My NYE proclamation about the upcoming year was two-fold: it contained the prediction mentioned above (1 person on this list of 7 people is going to die this year), but I further went to say that at least one other person on that same list of 7 (including me) was going to deal with very serious health problems. And this probably doesn’t need an explanation if you’re here on my blog, but that second part started becoming fulfilled mid-January when I was sick enough I had to leave work one day and the everything evolved quicker than we thought possible, and before we knew it I was unable to stand/walk, speak clearly, eat anything without extreme pain or nausea, and the list of symptoms goes on, as anyone with Lyme & Co understands. But we didn’t understand that at the time, because it wasn’t until several days in a local hospital (with no answers), thousands of dollars of tests (with no answers), multiple trips to the Cleveland Clinic over the course of several months, where we had very specialized testing done that still yielded no answers, and various other trips to doctors and phone calls and consultations–it wasn’t until all that had proves fruitless that we were told by a wonderful, compassionate doctor that Lyme was likely the root of my problems.
And oh boy, once we heard that, we knew we finally had a direction to go! However, we also knew the road to lyme recovery is quite a long, arduous, painful journey, but one I have to travel to rid myself of this disease. So, there was part 2 of my prediction fulfilled. And technically, it was the first part that was fulfilled since it started in January, but also the part that is still being fulfilled daily since I’m on this journey for the foreseeable future.
I hope by this point you understand a little bit of why I’m ready for this year to be over, and not just in the way that many flippantly post on Facebook that they’re “ready for [this year] to get behind so [they] can get on to the next!” (I’m not thinking of anyone in particular, I just feel like almost everyone has said something like this at some point the past week or so.)
But I’d venture to say I’m more ready than most for this year-who-must-not-be-numbered to end, given the fact that I have a such an intense fear of living in a year where you can’t escape that number (misplaced my TARDIS so I can’t even just skip the year), a fear that, to me, quite literally places me in a perpetual life-or-death state of mind. And, oh yeah, that state of mind predicted the things mentioned above would happen during this year simply because it IS this year, before the year even started. That state of mind foresaw the death of a person I loved beyond words, and that state of mind foresaw my quality of life (and really, my entire family’s quality of life) becoming so diminished it’s not even a shadow of what it used to be.
And I’m praying that with 2014 I’ll get a new slate where some of the lingering guilt I feel may dissolve, and my hope and driving life force will become renewed, and that I’ll start truly feeling like myself again, simply because 2014 is numerically aesthetically pleasing. The year we just experienced was completely a cocoon year–meaning a year shrouded in gray or other non-noteworthy colors where we couldn’t really see the pretty colors of the world. 2014 is going to be a year filled with vibrant butterflies. Because 2014 is a pretty number. It’s going to be a pretty year.
It was brought to my attention that I had initially left Roger off my list of blessings–if I were making a list of thankfulness (which I’ve done several times), he would be (and always is) the very first person on that list. The reason I didn’t originally have him on this list of blessings is because he’s not just a blessing this year, but he’s the biggest blessing I’ve had for over 6 years, and he knows that because I rarely let a day or two go by where I don’t remind him how much I appreciate everything he is for me–he’s my best friend, God-ordained soulmate, and selflessly does anything that has to be done for me/to take care of me when I can’t do it myself. He is definitely a blessing I feel like I don’t deserve, but am glad I have!
Truman: [to an unseen Christof] Who are you?
Christof: [on a speaker] I am the Creator – of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions.
Truman: Then who am I?
Christof: You’re the star.
The Truman Show, 1998
Today’s topic came to mind as a result of recent conversations with a friend as well as my mind’s inability to stop an already-started train of thought before it has made its transcontinental trek across my mind. And this isn’t a directly Lyme-related post, but I wanted to share it here because stuff like this is still encouraging to me and helps me get through the days when I feel like this journey is just too much to handle.
Have you ever been doing something–even the most mundane, daily activity–and had the eerie feeling that someone was watching you? Or even a step further, have you been performing/preparing to perform a particular task and experienced a nagging feeling that someone, somewhere must have cameras set up to monitor your movements 24/7 because no matter how hard you prepare, no matter how much care you take to ensure everything leading up to [action X], it seems like an unseen force is preventing you from completing your goal? I’d venture to say we’ve all felt like that at some point, and if you haven’t, well, please introduce yourself to me because you’re an extraordinarily unique person and I like meeting extraordinarily unique people.
In any case, this is a quite common phenomenon, and unless you have a legitimate fear or paranoia that you’re always being watched (I’m not making light of that because there are people who are truly suffering from the phobia of being watched), you can probably shake off the feeling and rationally tell yourself that the notion of someone watching your every move is absurd. After all, The Truman Show is a fun movie to watch–it is fun to watch Jim Carrey play the title character in the hilarious way only he can (I’m a big Jim Carrey fan), living his life on a glorified TV-set-disguised-world where everyone except him knows they’re on a TV show–and while it provides countless opportunities for laughter and enjoyment, it never breaches that gap where it seems like a situation that could really happen. So we enjoy the film and its fictitious, impossible (okay, highly improbable–I don’t like the whole “impossible” word….it takes a lot of fun out of life) premise and don’t stop to consider the notion that we could be living in such a world. Because even with our fleeting feelings of being watched from time to time, we can acknowledge the feelings as the products of our imaginations–which don’t fancy putting themselves into sleep mode. Ever.
But what would you say if I told you you ARE being watched every second of every minute of every day? Would you call me crazy (okay, crazier)? Fair enough. But I’m telling you right now, you are living a real-life Truman Show. Who on earth is behind this real-life media spectacle? Who is the mastermind behind the scenes, able to see everything you do and intervene as needed? If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, these are questions you probably don’t need to ask, but I’ll answer anyway. Your Executive Producer is God. (Technically, your entire production crew is God, but proclaiming Him your Executive Producer just sounds cooler, probably because succinctness packs a more powerful punch)
Yeah, buddy! Can’t you just picture that showing up on the credits as you were born? Some cheesy intro song played for a montage of scenes of your first few days of life and the credits:
CREATOR PRODUCTIONS presents
a GOD THE FATHER production
a MIGHTY GOD film
GOD (unseen but totally there. Heb. 11:1)
Seriously guys, I know that seems a little silly when you see it written like that, but just think about how cool that concept is! It’s easy for us to get lost in the script–especially when we don’t see the next line or stage direction–but our Writer already has the script finished and can’t wait for us to discover what comes next.
Of course, since we don’t have the omniscient view of our life-script, we are required to ask our Director for help with our next line. We have to trust our Set Designer to give us guidance on where we’re supposed to be. We need to consult our Casting Director to make sure we make good decisions about who we let be a part of our movie. And above all, we must believe wholeheartedly that our Executive Producer knows exactly what He’s doing with the production. This means accepting everything we encounter as part of our overarching story…including heartbreak, sadness, failures, and yes, even a chronic illness that robs us of any quality of life we previously had.
Because guess what? Our movies would be absolutely boring if they were only comprised of happy moments, successes, and overwhelming joy. If those were the only things written in our script, they wouldn’t seem nearly as happy, successful, or joyous because we’d have nothing with which to contrast them, and consequently wouldn’t recognize how much appreciation they truly deserve.
And really, is anything sweeter than the times when you’ve been going through seemingly insurmountable trials, struggling to find any form of hope that life can be good, and you experience a day, or an hour, or even just a moment of true, heartwarming happiness brought on by even the smallest of things, and that moment of happiness restores a streak of hope somewhere deep in your soul, even if it seems only temporary? I don’t think there’s anything better than that. I truly don’t.
Next time you get one of those hope-restoring moments–before it passes and you’re face-to-face with the struggles you encounter daily–I urge you to look up and thank the Executive Producer for adding the good into your plot line.
Because He thinks you’re a star.