I’m a pretty strong person. If I know you well, and am comfortable with you, I’ll let my guard down and tell you my entire life story. Otherwise, I put on a strong exterior and act like nothing affects me. But, I’m human, and everything affects me. No matter how hard I try to keep it ALL together, eventually it comes crashing down and I’m hit by a wave of emotions.
I know I preach a lot about FEELING and EXPERIENCING your emotions. And it’s true, in order to truly heal and be able to move forward in life, we have to experience all of our emotions. If we hold them in, or don’t fully experience them, they’ll come out in one way or another to allow us to feel them.
That’s what happened to me on Christmas Eve.
I sing in my Church’s choir…. but to be honest, I’m really not the best choir member. I’m the one who MAYBE shows up once a month. I really love singing around Christmas and I love to sing around Easter. I always try to make the masses leading up to the two events. Christmas songs are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE songs to sing. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Every Christmas season I miss going around to different places to sing Christmas carols. When I was young, I always sang with my school choirs and in high school we would go to different places (like nursing homes and around downtown Pittsburgh) to sing Christmas Carols.
One of my FAVORITE things was singing with my friends at Christmas Eve mass at Church. We’ve since stopped doing it, but when I joined my Church choir again after going out on disability, I was disappointed to learn that the choir sang midnight mass. Because of my psoriatic arthritis, all the pain and fatigue I was in from that and AVN, I was never able to actually MAKE it to midnight mass. This past Easter I thought I potentially might make the midnight mass for Easter Vigil, but I crashed way before the mass even began.
This Christmas, I was so excited to be off of crutches that I never really took the time to acknowledge how my psoriatic arthritis is pretty well-managed. As the Christmas season rolled around, I told my choir director that I wasn’t going to make it to Midnight Mass and I truly believed I wouldn’t be there. But, Christmas Eve came around and my family and I decided that we were going to go to Midnight Mass.
I woke up not feeling super great that day. The culprit? A gluten-free, dairy free, soy free pumpkin cookie from a local bakery. But, I started pulling out my tools that I know help me feel better and was determined to see if I could make it. The rest of the day turned out wonderful. My Mom and I spent all afternoon cooking in the kitchen, my Grandma came over for dinner which turned into a family Christmas Carol sing a long, we had a gingerbread house contest and then we headed to church.
I was so happy to be there singing Christmas Eve mass. It had been a few years since I had been able to do it. We sang for a while prior to mass and once mass started I was into the groove of singing that I wasn’t really paying attention to anything else that was going on. After the homily, we started singing Silent Night for the preparation of the gifts. As we were in the middle of singing the first verse, I looked up to see the family bringing the gifts down the aisle. There was a woman and a man carrying the wine and bread and a woman on crutches walking down in front of them. I couldn’t even tell you how old they were or anything about them at all, because as soon as I saw the girl hobbling down on crutches I LOST IT. I mean, tears streaming down my face, had to bite my lip and stop singing – lost it. She had the half crutches that I just knew she’d need for a long period of time – or even forever.
Here I was, STANDING with my choir, sans crutches, feeling pretty damn good, singing at MIDNIGHT MASS. HOLY CRAP. About a million + 90124908123 emotions flooded my brain at that moment. I tried to pick back up with the second verse, but that didn’t work too well. Between the blurred vision from the tears and the fact that if I opened my mouth I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to come out, I decided to just stand there and take a few deep breaths.
I pulled it together by the end of the song and was ok for the rest of mass, until I got back into my car and teared up.
THANK YOU. THANK YOU GOD SO MUCH.
I had been focused on one aspect of my story – my knee, my Regenexx procedure, my “Christmas miracle” – that I had neglected to acknowledge how I was feeling about the rest of my story as well. All my hard work changing my diet and getting my fatigue, pain, inflammation, etc under control. Singing Midnight Mass this year, along with being able to WALK, were BOTH my Christmas MIRACLES.
I’ve been so happy about my positive progress, but along with all that happiness, there were many other emotions that I’d been trying to block out.
I’m scared to be completely normal again. Sure, it may sound irrational, because every chronically fabulous patient is striving to just be ‘normal’ again, but when you’ve been out of the game so long, it can be down right terrifying!
I’m nervous to have to go back out into the working world, full-time. Sure, I’m literally the busiest person on disability. I blog, I coach clients, I teach classes, I attend conferences, I volunteer, I help my Dad, I help other people – if I’m feeling well, I try to keep busy! But, I set my own schedule, I go at my own pace, I make my own rules. Now that I’m coming up to the end of my long-term disability, I’m nervous to push my body to its limits again.
I’m excited to see where my life ends up. There are SO many unknowns right now. Where will I work, where will I live, who will I end up with, what will my life turn out to be? 5 years ago I was walking down an entirely different path and over the past 3.5 years, I’ve been tirelessly working to try to accept not being able to see the end. I used to always want to see the finish line. If I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’d start spiraling down a path of anxieties and my control freak flag would begin to wave. It’s something we must work on everyday to accept and this point of my life is REALLY testing the work I’ve put in.
I’m freaking out.
Because I don’t have everything planned out and don’t know where my life is headed . . . Like I just said above, we must continuously work on choosing happiness, choosing positivity and optimism and choose to be happy with the present. (Check out this past post here) Just because I’ve put so much work into accepting the present doesn’t mean I still don’t have freak outs. It’s in that moment that I have to draw on the tools I’ve been working on for the past few years. I’m learning, I’m evolving and I’m choosing happiness in the present – but it’s still work!
Emotions have a funny way of catching up to us.
Whether it’s a long cry, an ugly fight, a headache, a stomach ache, or in worst cases a new diagnosis, they always come out one way or another.
So, my advice to you is to explore your thoughts, emotions and feelings.
Each day during a meditation session or perhaps each night before you go to bed – think about all you’re grateful for, think about how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing, really get to know YOU.
In the end, you’ll be able to manage your emotions so much easier and you won’t get as many surprise cry seshs in the middle of church!
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season!
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!