These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of vacations, family, friends, and risk-taking activities. I have a lot to say, and yet, I don’t think I’m ready to say any of it. Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging for too long. Later this week, I will definitely be blogging about my trip to Havasupai where we found paradise.
Blue-green waterfalls, one right after the other, at the bottom of a red rock canyon? You need to visit this place. Book the trip now, and then come back to my blog to see how we planned our trip, what we packed, which waterfalls we climbed down to see, and how it all turned out. But like I said, today is not the day for that story. Before we get to that, I want to talk a little more broadly about life and what drives us – and what stops us.
Before we get to that, I want to talk a little more broadly about life and what drives us – and what stops us.
I’m thinking about getting a new tattoo… of a blossoming tree growing out of a pool of blood. This idea has been floating around in my head for a few years now, as I’ve tried to figure out exactly what it might look like. For me, tattoos are all about symbols and inspiration and insight. And this tattoo, to me, represents how we oftentimes find the most growth in our lives directly after (or maybe even during) periods of intense pain and suffering.
And this tattoo, to me, represents how we oftentimes find the most growth in our lives directly after (or maybe even during) periods of intense pain and suffering.
Luckily, we had the sense to not both be acutely sick at the same time. Our counselor (who we sought out pretty quickly as we realized we were in a bit of a crisis) said that it’s very common for couples to trade off being sick. Subconsciously we know that we can’t both be sick or in pain at the same time. The body knows what it has to do. I would relate it to the adrenaline I had in the 4am twilight as we began hiking out of Havasu Canyon after our epic trip. When I woke up before our hike out, my muscles screamed in pain from the miles of hiking that had already been done and my body begged to keep sleeping or at least resting. But once I laced up my hiking boots and started out on the trail, the pain faded away. My body knew that it had to suck it up. You could also think about how when you’re going through a very stressful time at work – maybe you have a big presentation or project – your body generally will not get sick or break down during that time, but immediately afterwards, you might find yourself in bed with a cold. Similarly, when I was sick, my partner took care of me. And when he got sick, I sucked it up so that I could take care of him.
It seems that most people have or will experience similar struggles in trying to navigate the medical system, find the right doctors, and pay the stacks of bills. The more people I talk to, the more I have realized how incredibly common it is for people to have chronic and/or difficult to treat medical maladies. During the past 5 years, I spent many days dreaming about when my husband and I would both be healthy and pain free again. I planned to put on my wedding dress again for a Trash the Dress session (which was all the rage back then) and take pictures and celebrate – to feel the way that I wanted to feel on our wedding day. I wanted to return to Hawaii and re-do our honeymoon in the way that we had hoped it would have been in the first place – pain and sickness free. For a long time, I put off doing anything (we very nearly cancelled the honeymoon altogether). I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to go on vacation. I didn’t want to celebrate anything. We never did the Trash the Dress session that we had already paid for. I wanted to save all of the celebrating for when our lives matched up with the vision that I had in my head. As you might imagine, I have slowly come to realize that this vision and my reality may never align.
I wanted to save all of the celebrating for when our lives matched up with the vision that I had in my head. As you might imagine, I have slowly come to realize that this vision and my reality may never align.
And I’m finally okay with that.
My health (and my husband’s health), while not a perfect vision, is better than it has been in 5 years. I have come to realize that there are no guarantees. We’re not guaranteed to ever have perfect health. We may never be totally pain and sickness free. This might be the best we ever feel at the same time. Who knows?
Luckily, we have reached a level of health where we can enjoy doing most things again. And last week, we finally settled with the insurance company from a car accident which enabled us to pay off the debt that had been stacking up on our credit cards. It is truly a momentous occasion. I have been intending to mark the end of this period of my life with a celebratory evening with friends, but I’ve struggled a little with planning because I kind of realized that this is not THE END that I had been hoping to find at this stage. Some of the pain might continue for months, maybe years, maybe forever. It might just always be there – just nagging at me. There might not be an “end.” Our lives cannot be contained in neat little packages. We cannot tie a bow around a year or an experience and force it out of our lives. Each experience seeps into the next. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But usually, both. And each of these moments and experiences is worth celebrating or at least recognizing for its growth value.
So yes, I will go out and celebrate this ongoing journey. I will celebrate the fact that my husband, my family, and my friends have stuck around through the times when the last thing in the world I wanted to do was celebrate. And I think I just might finally get that tree tattoo as a forever reminder that the struggle, while ongoing, is worthwhile. After all, were it not for the suffering that kept me from living my life for so long, I may not have mustered the courage to try scuba diving and rock-climbing!
After all, were it not for the suffering that kept me from living my life for so long, I may not have mustered the courage to try scuba diving and rock-climbing!
Check back later this week for pictures and details about my adventures from the past couple of weeks!
I would also love to hear from you about how you have found sickness or other struggles to be beneficial in your life! Please share your insights in the comments section! Also, if you have a tattoo similar in concept to the one I’m thinking about getting, I would love to see a picture of it. Don’t worry, I won’t get the exact same tattoo as you, but I could use some more inspiration. 🙂