Monday, December 3, 2012

Shattered

"There is tremendous grief because in a sense a part of you is dying. What you thought you were is stripped away and what you are left with is something, someone, you don't recognize, don't want or don't even like. Some get mad, others sad, some feel frustration, and still others lash out or withdraw into themselves in reaction to the ravages of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And then, eventually, you
somehow accept it. Not give up or give in, but accept it. You accept the circumstances and the limits the illness imposes on you. You learn to rest, to have peace and still be sick. You never stop fighting and striving or recovery, but you learn not to react or run from the pain. You even learn to turn into it. You choose how to respond, choose the attitude you will take. You realize you are not a victim. You choose to live."
Michelle Akers, 1999 US Women's Soccer world cup team member.
 
I wanted to start out with this quote because it carries with it more profound weight, truth, and heaviness than I could ever convey.
 
As I approach the end of my undergraduate education this Friday (yikes!) I am faced with a reality that I've tried to ignore. The past year, I've staid positive, hidden my pain behind my smile, set my standards high despite the trauma and hardships of the past year. But still that reality lurked behind every good grade, every corner that I turned, waiting for me to find it.
 
4 years ago I thought I had my entire life planned out: I had my weightlifting goals, my dreams and aspirations, my quest to become either a Steve Irwin-wannabe or a nurse. I knew who I was going to marry, and one day we were going to own our own gym and have 3 wonderful children. Now, it sounds silly to have had all of that planned out, but in my mind that was my perfect world.
 
December of 2010 that entire world was shattered. Really, it had begun to splinter and crack long before that, but I trudged on waiting for someone, something outside of myself to fix the physical pain that I was in. 
 
After that, I was forced to carry on despite the splinters. And the truth is, I have still held on to that idea in my mind that I need to be in a certain place right here, right now. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. For 4 years of high school I carried the weight of perfection, of drive, that so many Holy Names students carry. To have that all shatter underneath me left me with nothing, a foundation that had crumbled and slipped away.  And now, I find myself staring at those shattered pieces that once made up who I thought I was.
 
Which way to go? The original piece is destroyed. Now, I have the job of picking up each shard and following it. One of those will lead me down a path and become part of another picture. Rebuilding, incorporating that one shard of who I was into a new self. But now, the reality of those shattered pieces stares me in the face, and it's incredibly difficult to look at.

Michelle Akers sums it up perfectly, beautifully, sadly, and truthfully. The silent battle I fight day in and day out. The battle that few people see fully, where pillows and kittens are the ones who receive my tears when the rest of the world sees my smiling face. The reality that I'm not the person I want to be or feel that I am meant to be right now ... but that I'm forced to accept this right now, to look at Friday, my last day of Undergrad, and acknowledge that no, I am nowhere where i want to be. I'm not who I want to be. But the task is mine to find that broken shard and mend it into something beautiful.

Galadriel: You are a Ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a Ring of Power is to be alone. This task was appointed to you, and if you do not find a way, no one will.
Frodo: I know what I must do, it's just that... I'm afraid to do it.
Galadriel: Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.