I reworded the introduction on my homepage yesterday to better reflect who I currently am as a person now. I wanted to acknowledge my ongoing struggles with my chronic health issues. It has been almost five years since I’ve started getting painful dry eyes and migraines regularly, and I am done hoping that I would make a full recovery. These few years I’ve experienced bouts of good health, but the pain always returned. It just takes a few missteps, and I am out of action for days, if not weeks.
This is my new reality, and I accept it.
I want to accept it because it gives me a new platform on how I live. Instead of being in grief when I fall ill again, I can now calmly accept it as though it is an inevitable process. I had this epiphany a while ago that I should take responsibility for the frequency I have been falling ill. The problem is with each recovery I start to abuse my body again. I keep thinking that I can keep pushing my limits like the days of my youth.
But I am no longer young, and my body has had her fill of being pushed to her limits.
If I can learn to treat myself with the sort of gentleness I would hold to treat a chronically ill person, perhaps, just perhaps I would enjoy longer periods of manageable health. I would learn to tread carefully, instead of running around like a headless chicken. I would stop ingesting food that does nothing but tax my body. I would finally learn to treat my body like a temple. I hope.
Today I started running again. I haven’t been running since I started delivering food, but I gradually realised the fitness that comes with walking a lot is different from the fitness that comes with intense exercise (duh). Stamina versus strength.
I go into these cycles. I experiment with a new regime, I tire of policing myself, then I slip into extended periods of existential depression when I feel fatigued and numb. I lose all my good habits, and I rebel against myself. I become a renegade, doing whatever I please. Doing whatever I please is not a good thing for me, because I prolong the ill-effects of not taking good care of myself.
This is where it gets interesting. Sooner or later I tire of: being ill, being not at my optimum, feeling tired all the time – I start to desire to live like a monastic again. I wish to try again. To attempt to find a balance in my regime so this time I don’t have to rebel. There is a subtle flickering of life in me, a renewed interest in things I used to be interested in. I start reading voraciously again.
I don’t lose my chronically suicidal tendencies unsurprisingly to me but perhaps so to others, but I regain an interest to experiment with life, almost for nothing else but the spirit of experimentation.
I don’t wish for my suicidal tendencies to disappear, that is perhaps not the outcome I want. Like two warring states, I wish for my internal conflicted selves to be capable of co-existing in a negotiated peace. I don’t aspire to fall in love with life, but I hope to be able to endure it.
I often feel existentially lonely. It is not a loneliness that can be compensated with social company, but the persistent feeling that I am all alone in pursuing my journey. Yet ironically I think that is precisely the beauty of life: that because we are all very different people made up from our genes, ancestral history, culture, environment, family, community; for better or for worse we all have individually unique journeys to pursue.
I think to be able to rest in this existential loneliness, to be with it accompanied by full ownership, responsibility and with the pride of an aliveness-bearing person – perhaps that is the key to negotiating peace within me.