Recently I published a post titled, On Being Well After Being So Sick. Now forgive me for being a bit boastful, but I thought it was a well written piece that thoughtfully covered my recent emotional struggles with the complex process of learning how to live once again as a ‘healthy’ person. I thought. Then I received this comment.
……are you allowed to enjoy anything?
Say what now?
Am I allowed to enjoy anything? I assume, and I may be wrong, the implication here is that I don’t allow myself to enjoy things. I’m bleak. A downer. A sad sap. Or maybe it was a gentle reminder that I should allow myself to enjoy this. Instead of moaning, whining, just let myself rejoice in the splendid news that I had received.
It was good news after all, great news. So, why couldn’t I, wouldn’t I be ecstatic about it all? What is my damn problem, ladies and gents?
I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, the question at hand. Am I allowed to enjoy anything? Uh, yeah. Duh. I’m not only allowed to enjoy anything and everything. I’m goddamned entitled. And I do so every single day.
- I enjoy that I’m alive, believe it or not. The longer I’m alive is another day I can complain.
- I enjoy Skittles. I don’t know how this commenter doesn’t understand that. I also enjoy coffee. Like, are you new here? I enjoy the fuck out of some coffee. I do not, however, enjoy Skittles and coffee together.
- I enjoy living in the age of the internet where I can connect with people from around the world without having to change out of my pajamas.
- I enjoy that ‘Guys Night Out’ Progressive Insurance commercial. I also enjoy walking around the house saying, “Hi there, Tom Prichard!” I enjoy that A LOT.
- I enjoy the fact that both my children have great senses of humor.
- I enjoy Thanksgiving. That’s my favorite holiday because I enjoy the focus on family and gratitude rather than material possessions.
- I enjoy mashed potatoes which might be the real reason why I enjoy Thanksgiving so much.
- I enjoy my dog even though I just had to tell him to stop standing on the dining room table.
- I enjoy my fellow bloggers. I enjoy Phil. I enjoy Emily. I enjoy Lorna. I not only enjoy Lorna. I think she’s lovely. Lorna, I hope you enjoyed that joke.
- I enjoy laughing. I enjoy it so much I’ve dedicated an entire category of this blog to it.
- I enjoy snow, mostly because I spent most of my life living in Florida and it’s still new to me. I especially enjoy watching it through the eyes of my son. I really enjoy that.
- I enjoy that I can walk on my own. I used to not be able to do that. And I enjoy my body, as broken as it is. I’m actually quite in awe of it.
- I enjoy trashy TV. I also enjoy great books. I contain multitudes.
- I enjoy the 2.5 hour drive to the hospital when it’s time to get my scans. I enjoy road trips in general.
- I enjoy that I’ve found a specialist that both understands my rare disease and my odd sense of humor. I don’t enjoy how much her care costs me, but I enjoy that I’ve not yet gone into bankruptcy because of my illness. I do not enjoy that so many people have.
- I enjoy Dateline’s Josh Mankiewicz on Twitter. His caption game is on point. I also enjoy that he once retweeted me. This tweet is not about me, by the way.
- To paraphrase a famous quote, I enjoy writing and I also enjoy having written.
- I used to enjoy making fun of the Trump emails I receive almost daily. I no longer enjoy that. Hopefully I will get to enjoy the sight of the entire family in handcuffs. Minus Tiffany and Barron, of course.
- I enjoy busting balls. That’s probably obvious, though.
- I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. Cleaning? I don’t really enjoy that.
- I enjoy please and thank you, both saying it and hearing it.
- I enjoy watching waves break on the shore because it’s a beautiful example of the Buddhist concept of impermanence.
- I enjoy saying fancy shit like Buddhist concept of impermanence.
- I enjoy hiking. I used to enjoy running. I miss running. I don’t enjoy missing running.
- I enjoy the word fuck.
As you can see, dear commenter, I do allow myself to enjoy things. So many things. My life is full and I’m not sour. Well, I’m not always sour. I know what I’ve got. I know where I’ve been. And I know right where I am.
So that begs the question, why couldn’t I, wouldn’t I just be happy with my happy news? Because it’s not all that simple, my friend.
I am happy, of course. And I’m not. It’s hard to be when you love so many that didn’t get the news you got. News they may never get.
I am happy. I promise. It’s a relief. Just the idea that I won’t have to pay for another course of chemo is enough to make my heart skip a beat. I’m happy that I got to tell people who love me they can take a break from the worry. I’m happy that I can begin the process of learning how to be me again, even if that process is not an easy one.
It’s a weight lifted, a heaviness set free. I am happy. I do enjoy this. And I’m not sure why that’s something you don’t see.
In a million spaces on this here internet, people can find joy in illness. Positivity, strength. We’re warriors, after all. Aren’t we? We’re raging a battle with smiles on our faces and songs in our hearts! We’re better, faster, stronger because we had the misfortune of growing some fucked up cells.
That’s a hell of a lot to live up to and I’m not all that. Not all the time. Not even most of the time. So, I never saw my face in their eyes. My story was not told in their motivational quotes. My tale can’t be wrapped up in one of those ribbons of designated color.
So I set out to write my story. My way. On my terms. In my time. It’s messy, for sure. But it’s honest. That may not be your cup of tea. But that’s alright because it is mine.
My story is I am scared, terrified sometimes. I worry. I feel weak. I don’t rage or battle or fight. I just do what I’ve got to. I’ve done what makes sense. And sometimes I want to give up. In that fear and terror, though, there is joy. In a thousand tiny places there are smiles. I can’t walk and chew gum, but I can laugh through my tears. I do it all the time.
The emotions felt during serious illness are certainly complex. In my experience, though, they aren’t half as complex as those felt transitioning back to being well again.
You stated that your question may be taken as rude. It has. But more importantly it has been taken as shortsighted. That makes me sad. How is it that you can’t see or feel in my piece that the emotions expressed are but a few in a magical symphony of feelings I’ve had throughout these past six years?
I am a warrior sometimes. I’m stronger than you’ll ever know.
And I’m fragile and sometimes weak. That’s okay.
I laugh more in a week than you might in a year.
And I mourn this illness in bits and pieces every single day.
Daily pain is my new normal. I’m neither young nor spry. I have memories that betray me.
But if you asked me to go back to the ‘before’ me I wouldn’t go. I’m here now. This is my home.
I am stronger, better, faster in so many ways.
I’m also slow and tired and angry and afraid.
I’m happy for me and aware there are many right now that cannot be. That pains me so.
And there’s beauty in all those things. Those deemed good and those we think of as bad. There’s purpose in each one of those feelings. They get me through. And it’s sad that you can’t see that I enjoy this life because I do. I love the symphony that was written for me. I love the high notes and the ones that pierce my chest. I love the somber, sober moments. I love the quiet joy. I’m content. I’m at peace. It may not be the fanfare you’re looking for, but it’s my version of being sick. My version of being well.
You offered me courage in your comment and that made me laugh. I don’t need it, but thanks for the offer. I brave this body, this head. They both often seem to be against me. But I slay the dragon every day and I vow to do it again. And again. And again.
I’d offer you courage, but it’s clear you don’t need it. You’ve got some balls, my friend, for suggesting I won’t, don’t, can’t enjoy this life simply because I acknowledge some parts are sad. I enjoy this life of mine, the highs and the lows. I slurp it up. I feast upon it. I bite off its head and spit it out for more. I enjoy this life, whatever it gives me.
So, fuck you and your rude comment. Fuck you for being shortsighted and unkind.
And, man, I really enjoyed that.
So thanks for stopping by.