I just spent the last few minutes reading my posts from last January. Seems like 100 years ago and yesterday all in the same breath. It's been a year now since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I can honesty say that this has been the most difficult year in my entire adult life. I thought once we had a name for what was wrong with me, as well as a plan to treat it we would be well on our way. This past year has shown me that no matter how prepared with a plan I think I am, always plan for a wrench in the situation. That's hard to do when the wrench is your health and daily living. Nothing could have prepared me for the physical and emotional pain and exhaustion I had felt through out 2010, nothing!
As I look back at my "year in review" post from last January I am reminded of the promise I made to myself, to look at my life as a glass half full, rather than half empty. So although the year was difficult in so many ways, there is also plenty to be grateful for, including those difficulties.
The most noticeable change for me was within myself. As I have mentioned before, I have always felt I was more full of "attitude" (good and bad) than full of "talent". I have always felt like an "underdog" in life. Always trying to prove something to someone, as a kid to my parents, my friends, my boyfriends, my teachers, as an adult still my parents, my husband, my girls, my friends, even strangers but most of all it has always been myself. Some, ok many, have mentioned a chip on my shoulder. For as long as I can remember I have always felt this way. Even as I type this I think "this is crazy, I am a grown woman!" It is hard to explain the feeling and with last year's diagnosis I felt I was there again, an "underdog". The difference now is that having the attitude of an "underdog"doesn't feel so bad to me. I pushes me to be my best self. It pushes me to look past the challenges and see the victories. It reminds me to never count myself out. As someone who has quite the competitive spirit second place really has never been an option in my mind. I am reminded to see the everyday victories, not just the ones everyone else will see. No one is harder on me than myself. The expectations of being everything to everyone will always be in the back of my mind. The fighter in me can't let that go and I don't want to, it has served me well and made me who I am today. Changed, but the same.
The changes with my family I think bring a new understanding to my relationships. James is a man of few words and not one to be overly expressive (this is an understatement!). This past year we have grown closer than any other time in our 18 years together. He is my rock, the port in my storms. He keeps me grounded, but does not let me fall underground. He has shown me a love with few words, and many actions that has carried me through the dark times this past year. For this I am eternally grateful. My girls and I have grown even closer. Sharing our feelings, our concerns and our challenges of this past year together. I am hopeful that my sharing with them will enhance the foundation of our relationships. So that when they meet the challenges in their daily lives they will be confident in knowing that their mom will always be there to listen to them, cry with them and help lift them up when they think they cannot do it on their own.
The changes with my friends is a little different. I have found out who is really there for me, anytime I need them. I have found some of my relationships that were more of an acquaintance have blossomed into something that is more than I could have imagined. A true outpouring from a few women, strong in faith and their friendship to me. I have reconnected with old friends from 20+ years ago, who have been there for me over the past year, as if a day has not passed without seeing or speaking to me. Some that I thought would be in the trenches with me, have surprised me that they are not. Others, who I did not even think they knew where my trench was, have been down in the mud with me from the beginning of this journey. This past year has truly blessed me with a core group of support near and far away. I won't name names, you all know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being in my life.
So as this journey continues I choose to face my challenges head on...mental, physical and emotional. I again have a cup that overflows with inner strength, a loving family and the support of friends who will stand by my side with encouragement, love and the occasional kick in the ass when I need it. MS will try to bring me down and I will fall. However, I have confidence that with all that I have and all that I am this "underdog" will not only get back on her feet, she will be victorious!