Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Healing Thoughts; When Life Comes Knocking
Photo: Fort Snelling, January 2010
I've been taking a writing class to help me compile and refine the content I have for a book that I am writing about my life with RA. The class has been a great resource for me, and has allowed me to explore more of my experience, and recount it in ways that are not only more creative, but also more personal and therefore more interesting.
We were given an assignment to do some "discovery writing." I decided to pick a phrase that I have thought about more than once throughout the recent years. "When life comes knocking."
I wanted to share my writing on this subject because I strongly believe that the way I took control when things started to go south had just as much to do with my recovery as the food I was eating.
Life can come knocking at your door at the most inopportune time. Like when you just get out of the shower, have your hair up in a towel and are waltzing around the house in your bunny slippers…
You answer the door, and there is Life, staring at you with a big old box marked “fragile.”
You close the door, carry your package that life just handed you to the kitchen counter and open it.
When you look inside, you are devastated that not only is it not the package you were expecting, but it’s one you never thought you’d ever receive.
Nine years ago Life knocked on my door.
When I first opened the package Life handed me, I wasn’t sure what it was. I had to weed through a few years of styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap until I knew exactly what I was dealing with.
After spending a considerable amount of time in the dark, not knowing what it was that afflicted me, that prevented me from doing everyday things without a significant amount of pain, I was finally able to see what I was given.
This package that life had dropped off finally had a name, and it came to me in a gigantic nonsensical heap of unmatched wooden building blocks.
I was relieved, but now what would I do with it?
It was big and it was awkward. It caused me unimaginable pain and made me question how exactly I was going to get through life carrying it on my back.
It wasn’t something that I could hide in the back of a closet, or display proudly on a mantle, and I certainly couldn’t “re-gift” it. …I wouldn’t re-gift this package to anyone.
And that’s when it hit me.
Taking this package for what it was will do nothing for me, it’s what I do with it that will make all the difference in the world.
I started with the first block. I researched diet and it’s effect on autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. I learned about foods that create inflammation, such as wheat, eggs, dairy, and red meat.
After that I was able to pick up the second block and make the necessary changes to take my life back by eating a gluten free, mostly vegan, whole foods diet.
After those first two blocks, things started to get easier.
The pain had decreased significantly allowing me to pick up more blocks and claim this package as my own.
I was able to add more familiar blocks, taking the things that I had previously enjoyed in life such as group cycling, step aerobics and yoga that allowed me to incorporate who I was into what I was becoming.
Suddenly, I was no longer consumed by this package Life handed me, it was me who consumed the package.
Sometimes we don’t know exactly how strong we are until we take on Life at full force. Often it takes overcoming obstacles and experiencing pain to appreciate the true joys that Life offers.
Most importantly, it prepares you for when the next time Life comes knocking, you’ll be ready.