Love Letter, Part 2

By Chanda Alicea

Dear Readers,

Last week I wrote you a love letter about being a champion and rising above our chronic health issues because they don’t define us, and we are so much more than the sum of our health. It’s all true. We are warriors. I still want you to remember every day how much of a bad ass that you are! 

This week however, I wanted to stay on the same subject and be as honest as I can be about the flip side of what I addressed. I decided to share what happens on the bad days, because life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and if I only spewed positivity, this would get old super quick and you’d probably be disappointed and call me on my BS for not sharing the somewhat negative.

So here we go. I’m going to have my moment, and it’s not any different from those moments that you have. It’s a moment when I allow myself to be negative, frustrated, disappointed and overwhelmed. I’m going to tell you what you already know. CHRONIC HEATLTH ISSUES SUCK!!! Now listen, truth be told I don’t often feel that I have a right to complain publicly, or at all for that matter, because there are tons of people who are far worse off than me, but lately I have been really struggling with staying positive because I’ve been in a lot of pain lately and I’m down right ANGRY that my body does not want to cooperate with me. Lately I’ve been close to an emotional breakdown that keeps getting harder to stave off, and in these moments I have realized that by not allowing myself to take the time to acknowledge how much it sucks, that I am making things far worse on myself mentally and emotionally.

 I’m going to guess that I am not the only one who does this. Believe it or not, I prefer to keep these things private. I prefer not to share that anything is wrong with me. I don’t want to complain because I guilt myself into feeling like I have no right and tell myself that it could be worse, so I just need to suck it up. I’ve noticed lately I am on autopilot and continue to push through because it’s summer and I am doing my best to keep my daughter occupied and entertained so she’s not bored out of her mind. I want her to have fun and enjoy different experiences, considering we basically traveled once a month during summer break last year, and we’re all suffering from wanderlust FOMO. And while that FOMO continues to rage on, I do my best to fill the days with different memory making activities to fill the void that the FOMO leaves.  

It’s during these hard times, that I have found myself wondering what is it that keeps me going when I just want to stay in bed and get a decent amount of sleep? What besides my girl gives me the strength to muster through and take her to make crafts at Michael’s 3 days a week? What gives me the motivation to set my alarm for 7 am most days of the week (if I am having a good week pain tolerance wise) to get to the gym?  The answer is, I HAVE NO CLUE. I feel like I am hanging on by a thread just trying to make it from one day to the next, while also trying to keep the days and times of things we’re committed to straight, and it’s not going well if I’m being honest about it. Currently, bedtime for me is the hardest and most painful it’s ever been. A three week break from PT due to something beyond my control really took a toll on my body and all the work I put in was basically flushed down the drain and we’re starting all over again and my body HATES it. It’s mad at me on a daily basis. I’ve been reduced to icing my hip and my back with my large ice pack whenever I have a chance at home. I’d jump at the chance for an ice bath at this point just to make the pain go away for whatever short amount of time I could. I feel like I am at war with my body, and I still don’t know who is winning.

This has indeed been a challenging week full of overwhelming emotions. The end of the week included a moment when I was at my worst. Laying on the couch with my leg propped up and an ice pack under my back angry at my limitations that kept us from our Friday trip to Michael’s. My daughter started crying when I apologized to her for not being able to go, which immediately turned into us both breaking down in tears. It was the most emotionally draining moment of the week. It was a breakdown that had been building up due to a culmination of things all week. And in a moment of seeing how disappointed my kid was, I JUST LOST IT. It was raw and heartbreaking, but also very therapeutic to just lay there and hold her and let it all out. I had been hanging on so long and trying to stay strong for her so she wouldn’t see me cry, but I realized that it’s okay for her to see that I am not always able to hold it together. I realized that there’s no way to really avoid our kids seeing how vulnerable we can be, and that’s okay. I still haven’t figured out what keeps me going and you probably haven’t either. We’re all just trying to get through life together, so we don’t feel alone. And with that, I want to leave you with some parting words of encouragement. As Dory (my favorite fish) says “just keep swimming.”

Sending you all my LOVE,

Chanda

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