In defense of trying: redefining thriving for a new body

I figured something out about myself. I’ve stayed, in a way, frozen to a version of myself. I used to think I was stuck in a protracted childhood because my tumor caused me to regress, but then I was like, mehhhhhhhh, that sounds like a lot of psychoanalytical pucky. But I knew I was stuck. I was perhaps, I thought, stuck in a space of not wanting to lose certain parts of myself that illness threatened: my hearing, my balance, my stamina, my athleticism, my career, my joy, my life. And I still think that’s part of it, but I also think that when I got sick, the fear of what it meant was so incomprehensible and of such a magnitude, there was no conscious debate in my mind as to how I would cope, I just, somehow made it through. I think in the process I got stuck.

I got stuck in a space of hiding in and sticking to my comforts, sometimes even relinquishing my passions and desires to an unnamed monstrous threat that disguising itself just beyond the realm of understanding, or alternatively rationalizing what my tumor took from me as a choice to live a certain kind of life. I let this unknown demon demarcate the boundaries of my life, causing me to see these same few things as markers of good health and a successful life. If I could go back to work, regain independence, be fit, be stable, be unendingly happy, then I’d be fine. So I’d retreat into performances of wellness, shoving down any sense that things were not as they should be. I don’t regret this. This way of surviving, of retreating into what made sense, allowed me to survive and truly, when circumstances are dire, we must find ways to survive. So I watched the same shows, took the same dose of pain meds, laid in the same spot watching the outline of my body grow deeper into the couch, ate the same foods, and laughed at the same old jokes. The routine was comforting in its quiet, it was comforting in the way it gave me a small sense making schema of my life. I knew to a point what each day would look like, and that made sense, I needed that when so much of the way my body betrayed itself did not make sense.

I’m so grateful for the way I got stuck, because being stuck enabled my life to continue with a sated joy of a woman content in her habits and the people around her. Now as I embark on the Persian new year, I want to unstick myself, not because being stuck really meant anything bad, there’s no judgement in my heart, just gratitude. I want to get unstuck because being stuck isn’t enough anymore — life, desire, hope, joy, they’ve forced me to face the pit in my stomach that screams, YOU’VE SURVIVED, NOW TRY TO THRIVE!

I’ve let go of the notion that you must return to work or a pain-free existence to have thrived. I’ve also let go of the notion that things must happen now. I’ve adapted to a life of unpredictability and though sometimes the sense of the unknown makes me quake, I know I must continue forward in the name of others who could not, and more simply, to be fair to myself. The beautiful thing is, if I try, even if I fail, I’ll still have lived a life of contentment, of gratitude, and full of love.

Peace and love,

Samira

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