DISCLAIMER: I wrote this yesterday, which was a difficult day for me in some respects but also had so many blessings. I am choosing not to edit the post because I do think that honesty serves best the message I felt I was meant to get from yesterday and my reflecting on it through this post.
Today was a challenging day in several ways with disturbing dreams, exhaustion, headaches and an overwhelming feeling of frustration and feeling down-hearted. Not a typical day for me, but there it is. I actually cried in front of my kids, which I try not to do because I don’t want to alarm them. I do realize that showing vulnerabilities in front of your children is important because only in that way can they see that they are not alone in their sad days and that it is okay to feel down. I think most people don’t realize that I am still dealing with post-stroke issues, since my symptoms aren’t apparent in my everyday interactions with others. That’s probably why I’ve started to get questions from family and friends, like “So, what are you going to do now (for work)?” But my daily life is slow and requires a lot of down time still. I can do some work, blogging for instance, but this is maybe at most 1 hour of my day. The rest of my day is about taking care of home and family and downtime. Usually, before the stroke, in addition to work which was hectic, I liked to read. I read for hours each day, rarely watching tv. Now, I read 10 pages and I immediately need to sleep, usually two hours, which was okay for the first 12 months, but it’s 18 months now and I am soooo ready to move on and get back to life and work.
To say that after 1.5 years it is beginning to frustrate me is an understatement. What saves me from falling completely into a perpetual woe-is-me state is the fact that I am an optimist, which thankfully brings me to what I really wanted to share with you today. You see when you start reading spiritual books or listening to spiritual podcasts and videos, you find that the primary focus is always on the positive – the joy of the journey, the amazing blessing it is to have a life here on Earth, the power we all possess to create our own lives. The message often comes through that you need to shift your thoughts to focusing on the positive, which I completely agree with and try to live out each day. One of the primary message is how you need to be careful of your thoughts because they manifest things in your life. Thoughts are very powerful things. The messages that run through your mind and the words you speak are powerful. I have been told by a spiritual mentors, both in my life and in books & videos, to not think those thoughts, to cancel them out, to replace them with positive thoughts. By repeating that I have a headache or I feel tired, I am only perpetuating that state in my life. I need to not state those things at all; only to talk with affirmations like, “I am perfect and vital health;” or “I have abundance of health and energy;” or “My body knows exactly what I need and provides it for me easily and effortlessly.” So, I tell people when they ask me, “How are you?” I say “I’m fine.” or “Good.” When really my head is pounding and has been for days or I can’t put two sentences together on paper because my brain doesn’t allow me to focus on that right now. I’ve spent the past few afternoons wrapped in a blanket on the couch watching the Food Network because anything more taxing is beyond me to follow, and I can’t watch anything with fast movement because my eyes can’t track the movement without me getting dizzy. So I am wondering where does honesty fall into spirituality or optimism? Am I really supposed to continually and only be talking in positive affirmations to myself and others, when my life has moments where positivity is not what I am feeling. If I am not sharing how I feel with those close to me, am I missing out on building a support system for myself? If they don’t understand or know what I am going through, how can our interactions and conversations be real? Am I being my authentic self, if I share only the positive side of me and suppress any negative thoughts or feelings I have?
In the past 18 months I have been very patient and willingly because I realize that I am on a new journey one that requires me to learn how to live differently, to let go of old beliefs systems, to heal my soul, so that I can go out into the world and take the path I was meant to take. I needed quiet and peace and time to do this and still do. All this I know, yet, I am human and have moments of frustration and impatience. It is not easy to let go of all you have known or used to define who you were to the world and yourself. I do have complete faith that all is well and is as it should be, even if I don’t see the whys or the future hows. I have believed this since the very first day after my stroke diagnosis. I have never been afraid until today. I most certainly DO NOT live in this poor-me state most of the time but I am done keeping the truth from my family, friends and myself about how I feel, and feeling badly that I feel poorly on certain days. This cycle needs to end. I am starting to feel that I need to learn to feel what I am feeling, to acknowledge it, to work through it. It is only making it harder for myself, judging my feelings as wrong or lacking in faith or positivity, I am living a human life and THAT is most definitely not all sunshine and roses. It is fraught with interactions with people both positive and negative, events out of my control, emotions that can be uncomfortable or overwhelming, as well as glorious and beautiful. Experiences only have meaning in contrast to other experiences. Would we know what joy was if we never experienced heartache? Life is a journey after all and how would you know that you are moving and growing, if you only experienced joy without challenges? Challenges always include some aspect which is perceived as negative. It is how we approach the challenge and deal with it that is most important. The first step is recognizing it as a challenge and then moving through it and coming out of it better and stronger because of it.
Maybe what lies beyond this frustration during these months is a future where there is joy in being able to fully devote myself to my creativity and my passion without driving myself into the ground. Maybe I need to learn how to relax and just be before I can throw myself whole-heartedly into my work again. It feels to me like this is the answer to the Why of everything I have experienced these past months. Feeling frustrated is maybe just my old self rebelling against this new Me who has to have time to just think, to just be, to just be with Me. I guess, maybe for most, if not all of my life, I have been ignoring Me and Me just won’t stand for it any more. So it’s okay for me to be honest about not feeling well. I am not going to make the circumstances worse by acknowledging this. I am not creating these health issues by acknowledging that they are challenging, rather I am able to work through them only by seeing them, talking about them, letting them come to the surface and still saying in faith “All is well.”
So here it is: I am an honest optimist. You might just get the run down of my day if you ask after my well-being. The key is to letting it out, being with how you are feeling in the moment, and then working to focus again all the wonderful and blessed and good things I have in my life. After all I am a whole person, not just a perfect optimist living a perfect life. So the next time you feel badly about a negative emotion or thought, or about having a down day, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge to yourself and others that this is how you are feeling, don’t beat yourself up about it; and know that you are enough and you are most definitely allowed to have down days and down emotions, the key is to bring yourself back to a place of balance and not to stay in that down state. Remember there are always two sides to a situation and you have a choice, always, to how you react to your life. So let’s be honestly optimistic and allow for those moments of contrast to bring meaning to our lives and selves. They are part of us and central to our journey through life.
Honestly and optimistically yours always,