Monday, June 1, 2015

How Old Do I Look?

How old do I look?  No, wait, don't answer that,  I may not hear what I want to hear, and today I am not in the right frame of mind to hear what I don't want to hear. ;)

 I'll just tell you - I'm 50.  I don't think I really look 50 (if you think I look 60, then, keep your mouth shut please-and-thank-you).  I take care of my face; wear sunscreen; have never gone to bed without taking my makeup off; all the [stuff] [they] tell you to do to retain your youthful appearance.

And, I think, for the most part, it's worked.  I also try to dress appropriate for my age, but with a youthful flair.  According to my 20 year old daughter, I do a fair job at that too.

I think [hope?] my looks belie my true age.  HOWEVER, and this is a huge however, what is on the inside tells a much different story.

Well, the outside too, if truth be told, because I don't show my whole crooked smile (nerve damage, following Bell's Palsy) to the world.  I choose to show my smile in the best possible way.

That is the point of this whole post - what's going on behind the optimally captured, smiling face.  Behind there is pain.  Chronic pain from several sources,  Sjogren's Syndrome, low back pain from uneven leg length following two hip replacements, inner ear autoimmune disorder, esophagitis, anemia, clinical depression and anxiety...

I don't even know if I listed them all. It doesn't really matter (I'm not hear to garner sympathy), because the exact disorders and diseases aren't the point.  The point is, I try to overcome them.  I try to keep the illnesses from running my life.  I want to lead a normal, active life, just like everyone else.  But, some days I can't.

Some days I can't, and I can never reliably predict which days I can just keep going, and which days my body is gonna say - No.  Nope.  Not gonna do it.  And you can't make me.

I know I'm not the only one who lives with chronic illness and pain, but some days I do feel quite alone.  I feel alone on a life-boat without an oar while everyone else is partying on the cruise ship.

They may not even notice I'm not on the ship any more.  I've had to say no to them too many times when they've asked me to be with them, so I have slipped their minds completely.  Or, they may notice, and are waving at me, from their ship, to come on over, without realizing I have no oar, nor the strength to paddle one even if I did.

I don't blame them.  They don't understand.  How could they?  I wouldn't even want them to, really, because if they truly understood, that would mean they were in pain as well, and that is the last thing I want for my loved ones.

To acknowledge that they understand that they don't understand, is, I suppose, the best way I can describe what I wish from those around me.  Some compassion.  Some grace and some patience.

I can't keep up with them right now.  I may never be able to, but I am trying my best.  I'm trying to eat right; exercise; get enough sleep; keep myself mentally fit by going to therapy, reading scripture, listening to uplifting music - all the things that get me through.

I truly am trying.  Because I want to be part of the party - for many long years to come.