Saturday, June 16, 2018

Accepting What Is, Part IV

It's hard to plan a future when everything is always so uncertain. The girls and I have our move coming, but we don't know when we'll float to the top of the waiting list for the apartments we want. We know what we want our home to feel like once we've moved, what we want it to look like once we've completed the project of starting a new home from scratch, and we even know how we want the process to look. But not knowing when anything is going to happen throws a real wrench in the works mental health-wise, and with things as they currently are, the girls are I are in pretty constant states of anxiousness. So much around us is uncertain, not only in our health, well-being, and finances, but also in our various personal environments.

We're always careful now, the three of us, always nervous. Sometimes I wonder if that'll ever fade away, if I'll ever watch my girls laugh again without seeing uncertainty in their eyes because they're afraid of being too loud, too high-pitched, too enthusiastic. I wonder if Eden's stutter will fade away when she doesn't have to fight so hard to be heard, if her depression will ease when isn't plagued by the pain of feeling unwelcome. I wonder if she'll ever go back to being a kid who isn't afraid of breaking down emotionally if she's too sick physically to attend therapy. If Joey will let go of her own shame in time to heal the wounds on her heart before they have greater impact on her life. I wonder if her heart problems will ever get better (or if they will get worse). I wonder if we'll ever know why she's struggling to swallow certain foods, why she's plagued with constant fatigue, peripheral numbness, headaches, and joint pain.

I wonder what news I'll get regarding my own health - mentally, things are about the same. I struggle all the time despite the additions of therapy and medication, but it's hard to say how much of that is permanent and how much will ease in coming months or years of treatment and change. Some of it is situational, sure, and can be accredited to worry and grief over my mother's chronic illness and the impact of raising two children with chronic health problems as a single parent. But there's more too. There's my own chronic pain, chronic exhaustion (we've gone well beyond fatigue at this point), headaches, and troublesome changes in my feet, skin, eyes, and even joints.

I am in equal parts excited and terrified to be meeting with a neurosurgeon later this month. Excited because this is a chance to have answers ... but I am in equal parts terrified that I will be told I am right and that I will be told I am wrong. If I'm on the wrong track with my suspicions, then I will have no answers, only more questions - and this will bring me no closer to effective treatment for my various ailments. But if I'm right, even in a small way? That could have life-long repercussion for me and my daughters. If I'm all the way correct, then Team Kennedy is in for the challenge of our lives, and I just hope we're strong enough after all that we've survived to come out standing tall on the other side.

I have hope that it will all work out, that when the dust of what was has settled and the flames of what I had believed to be true have finished burning out, something newer and stronger and unbelievably healthy will rise from the ashes. If I have nothing else, I have always clung to relentless hope - and I will teach my daughters by the example of continuing to do so.

But in the meantime, as we navigate some pretty hard times ahead, I know I'm going to be struggling. I know my daughters will likely become even more emotionally needy, that my mother will become increasingly ill. And that unfortunately, the stress (of my current life sitting firmly atop the trauma of my life up until this point) will continue to have crushing impact on my mental and physical health.

I'll still be writing here, because it's therapy and it keeps me accountable to myself as I build a life and a name I hope my daughters will someday be proud of. I'll still be writing novels, because I adore them and I love the way writing stories allows me to explore my own hopes and dreams. I'll still be posting and sharing bonus content on Patreon, not only because I love it there and am so grateful for the people who support me, but because maintaining that account keeps me accountable writing-wise. I'll still be hoping it all grows into a lucrative income with which I can build a legacy, not only for my daughters but for other women like me and families like mine.

But right now? As I walk moment by moment through times that are already hard and only getting harder? I'm holding onto possibility and hope and progress and baby steps, but I'm also accepting what is. I'm processing shame and pain and humiliation and sadness and heartache. I'm working actively to heal trauma and remake a brain that has been scarred by too much for too long. And that takes time. It's hard. It's exhausting. It's painful. And most days, it takes literally everything I have to give, then asks for more.

So I'm "coming out" as disabled ... not only because I have already shared so much of my personal story here and hope that continuing to share will inspire others ... but because I want to be part of the movement toward acceptance, inclusion, and accessibility ... not only for those with visible disabilities, but those with invisible disabilities like mine:

  • for those who have been dismissed because they don't "look" sick ...
  • for those who have been ridiculed because they're "not sick," they're "just lazy" ...
  • for those who have had their illnesses minimized by people who don't understand them ...
  • for those who have been shamed because they can't "let it go" or "get over it" ...
  • for those who have been abused because of their disabilities ...
  • for those who have been blamed for their illnesses ...
  • for those who have been accused of making it up ...

I will take a stand. I will share my story as I experience it, in a way that is open and honest and hopefully somehow helpful to someone else who can relate but hasn't yet found a way to share their own. I will accept what is, even as I struggle to change the life I'm living into the life I'm longing for. And as I stand disabled by multiple invisible illnesses both firmly diagnosed and tentatively suspected, I will remain strong, courageous, kind, encouraging, hopeful ... and undaunted.

If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

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