I don’t know if you can tell by this blog, but I am often referred to by others as “feisty.”
I would blame it on the hair, as my husband loves to do, but alas, it’s fake. I was born this way. And thank God that I was, because even though my chutzpah has gotten me into trouble once or thrice, or fifty times, it has been the driving force behind my undying faith and passion to find answers to the question that hung over my head for most of my life: what is wrong with me? Like the Little Engine That Could, I just kept chugging up the mountain, seeking answers, rejecting the ones that didn’t make sense, and never lost hope that I would find an explanation for what ailed me. Why? I don’t know – it’s just who I am.
Of course, I am more than just a medical diagnosis, and the obstacles I have faced in my life have ranged: interpersonal, financial, spiritual, legal, etc. and the same personality has come swinging out of the corner every time to fight my battles. I have always been a warrior who fights things head on – not an ostrich who puts her head in the sand. And I consider this to be an advantage…most of the time. This struck me the other day, when someone I met said, “Your health problems kind of remind me of my relative, but she is so whiny about everything. I always thought she was just making it up.” We all know those people, and it can be hard to sympathize with them after a while, right? They are draining! “She may be whiny about everything,” I said. “And she could still not be making this up.” Disease does not care what your personality is – it strikes regardless of whether you have the coping skills or not. But my personality isn’t “good,” and hers isn’t “bad.” I have stopped trying to put things into “black & white” answers, and find, rather, that just about everything has it shades of gray.
I have struggled for years to not be seen as “whiny.” I take pride in my strength and resilience, preferring to be known as “stoic,” rather than “sensitive” when it comes to my medical issues. And yet, I am coming to learn that there has to be a balance, just like most things. Too much strength, resilience and stoicism can be overbearing, isolating, and difficult to model, especially when I have two little ones watching my every move.
We have a bluetooth in our car, and sometimes my children are privy to phone conversations of my choosing. I happen to be dealing with an elderly relative who is in end of life stages, and as the ex nurse in the family, I get consulted on certain matters. I was fired up about some issue with the nursing home transfer, and I got off the phone, and my daughter said, “Wow, Mom. The family is so lucky to have you. You are one of those people that knows how to get things done.” A year ago, I would have swelled with pride and thanked her, but my heart sank when I heard this. A Type A personality in the making…
“Do you know what I have learned lately, hon, that has changed my life for the better?”
“If I don’t do these things, someone else will. It may not be the way I would do it, and that’s OK.”
You see, what I am not good at getting done is resting. And by the way, maybe that whiny girl is a lot better at resting and recharging than I am! I had to take a few sick days last week, and it is one of the hardest things for me to do nothing all day. But I need to do that: if anything, I need my kids to see that strength does not mean sacrificing your health and well-being. (Duh! We’re trying to send the opposite message around here…)
So if that means I have a TV and recliner marathon once in a while, then so be it…
(first published on Blogger on 4/28/14 11:37 AM Pacific Daylight Time)