I talk a lot about positive energy, keeping a good outlook and attitude...smiling in the face of stress. And I really do try my best to live this way--I'm not just blowing smoke up someone's skirts. I work hard to remember what is truly important, for I believe that when you take these blessings for granted, they tend to be taken away.
Though I admit there are days when it is HARD. I was taught to stand on my own two feet, and to remain strong when things get tougher. I have that ingrained in me, as any true Irishman (or Irishwoman) does. But circumstances beyond my control force me all too often to change when I don't want to. I am forced to adapt, and to accept. My body didn't get the Irish memo, obviously! The truth of the matter is that part of me would love nothing better than to make every change needed, to make things physically easier for myself, and to improve my health as much as possible. For I know what needs to be done...even when my instinct is to stand and fight against the changes. Though often the part of me that wishes for change is too quiet...and my loud, stubborn side takes over.
I have recently been faced with a difficult decision; one I had been fighting against tooth and nail. The decision to stop working part time, and go on 'permanent disability'. Wait...aren't you permanently disabled? some might ask. Well, yes...and no. I have a neurological disorder (CMT) that is a permanent fixture in my life, but because I have chosen to work part time, in the eyes of the law I'm only considered temporarily disabled...go figure! Don't forget--many (many) years ago, I worked full time as a special education teacher...and ended up suffering a pretty severe back injury. I don't know if it's the same for all CMTers, but I don't bounce back very well from those types of things...there was no bouncing at all really--more like a SPLAT. And so it took me two years to recover, after which my doctor gave me the go ahead to work a light duty, part time job. I could have gone on permanent disability at that point, but instead I snatched up that opportunity to work in any capacity, quicker than Dr V could blink...and before she could change her mind. Since then I have been working as a part time receptionist in medical offices; the last few years for my chiropractor. It wasn't what I was trained for, though it was what I needed...I needed to be busy. I don't regret my decision (well, not totally.) Had I thought of pursuing my artwork at that time, I might be in a different place physically, but that's okay. I didn't, because I had spent so many years in the mindset of 'teacher' that my job had become my identity...it had become my truth. So when that ended, I think I was suffering from a lot more than back pain. I was suffering an identity crisis, and I needed time to find my way.
So recently, because of further changes in my health, I was faced with the decision to stop working completely. And in a way, I was faced with a whole new identity crisis. Not that I feel the same kind of attachment to my receptionist persona, because I don't...I think it was the identity of 'the working woman' I was afraid of losing. And it still petrifies me, though I finally came to the decision that I had to make the change. My doctor has suggested it, my chiropractor has suggested it--my friends and family have all agreed. And so do I, deep down...though it is not a choice that has come lightly. I think the turning point was having the opportunity to work with Art de Cure, and opportunities to paint and create again...it gave me a path to explore, when it felt like all other paths were being closed off.
Most importantly, I discovered my real truth. My identity was never any job; my identity is the type of person I am inside...and my creativity is a big part of that. I have the opportunity to focus on that part of me now and explore all it has to offer, and I also have the opportunity to do what is right for my health, before another SPLAT happens. I can choose to look at this negatively, as something I am being forced to do, or look at this as a positive change that I am choosing to make for myself. I know the path in front of me is not guaranteed, nor is it set in stone. If my past experiences have taught me nothing else, they have taught me that. And though this path will take me to the unknown, it is one I need to follow, to see where it may lead. It has taken a lot of time, and there is still much fear involved, though I am choosing to be positive...and that makes the pill of change a little easier to swallow.