So when I turned thirty, it was supposed to be a big deal. You know, the big 30, you’ve left your roaring twenties behind, and are suddenly, supposedly an adult. No longer “young adult” but actually an adult. But I have always felt like an adult, always behaved like one, even when I was only five, explaining to my mother that we were friends, and she shouldn’t boss me around. Responsibility was pretty much part of my character at a very early age. But I digress.
I was very scared of turning 30. When I was eighteen, I thought I’d never make it to 30. Doctors told me that by the age of thirty, things would pretty much be over. But somehow, I made it to 30, semi-functional, and having learned a few lessons along the way. My friends celebrated my 30th, and I realized that having real friends was the greatest blessing. Friends who accept you for who you are, listen to you, hold you up, support you, and tell you when you’re being a douchebag. I was dealing with a loss that I still cannot understand, cannot seem to accept, because there is no sense in it. And yet, I have realized that sometimes you just lose, without explanations, without reasons. Life and loss are just so intertwined. You cannot control the equation, and you cannot control who stays and who leaves. You can only control your choices, how you deal, how you react, but nothing else.
So I wrote myself a letter, and as private as it is, I will share bits of it on this blog. Amongst the things I have learned are:
You cannot ever really prepare for the future. As daunting and scary as it sounds, you really just have to go with the flow. I always tried to plan things in advance, but it was just stressful and exhausting. Things usually surprise you, outcomes are always different.
You have learned to accept you, finally. You have met critical people, people who couldn’t love themselves, let alone love you, people who saw flaws more than anything. You have finally understood that negativity arises from deep within a person, and you can’t change that, no matter how hard you try. You can’t fix a broken person, you can’t love them hard enough to fix them, and you certainly aren’t a superhero. That’s okay.
When you look in the mirror today, you see fatigued eyes, no matter what you do. Your brain works harder than an average person’s, because with MS, the nerve signals are slowed down, and you have to work double as hard to do a simple task. Motor function is difficult, the brain has to adapt to “normal” functioning by trying harder. It can be draining, and yet, people can’t see it. People will make fun of you, they will criticize you, ask you why you look so sleepy and so dead, and there is never an answer you can provide. And that, too, is okay. Accept that people will not understand, and that’s not their fault, or yours. It just is.
There are those around you who have taught you what love is, and even if they are gone, you know that you learned a lot about life and love, trust, friendship, loyalty, and most importantly, human nature. You also learned to accept that when people walk out, it doesn’t mean you haven’t tried enough. You got to let go, and sometimes, you really just aren’t on the same page as the other person. We can be on the same planet, yet on entirely different wavelengths. Love is simply not enough, if respect is not in the equation. Respect, trust, and non-abuse is most important. Love only grows from that equation.
You are blessed that your mother is still alive, and is your best friend. You learned to cherish days that matter, because you never know when time is up. Because of MS, which people have seen as a curse, you are always living in the moment, cherishing it, savoring it, and enjoying being here, today, with your loved ones, able to see them, to touch them, to hear them, to speak with them. This is a beautiful part of life, to enjoy your loved ones’ companionship. People just let life slip by, and as cliché as it sounds, they don’t stop to think about these moments. They always think they have forever and another day to fix things. But if you don’t fix things today, if you don’t make it right, why are you so certain you’ll have tomorrow? I don’t understand this concept at all. It either is, or isn’t. Life is not meant to be put on hold, and neither is love, nor passion, nor doing the right thing.
So every time I feel down, I know I need to think about these things. I need to reconsider where life has taken me. I wish people could see things from a different perspective, that it really is all about today, that you cannot control the future, that security comes from loving yourself and being able to extend that love to those you WANT to love, those that you want to witness their life’s journey. I am still learning, but I know that I have at least solidified who I am by the age of 30. I look back at my eighteen year old self, and I think, you managed to become who you really wanted to be: an academic who struggles daily, but wouldn’t trade it for the world, a simple person who is grateful to be able to read, to drive, to enjoy the companionship of good people, and loves learning about this condition of being human and surviving it every day.