WHEN LIFE HAS OTHER PLANS FOR YOU
Emma H. 13/12/2016
Why I’m making my New Year’s resolutions in November
This is yet another of my original Czech blog posts that I’ve decided to replicate in English. Because it is personal and because I believe that my personal experiences may help other women out there. Actually, in this case, anyone who suffers from a long-term illness. (Contrary to the Czech environment, there’s no need for yet another blogger to sum up factual information on integrative healing. There are thousands of English resources available.)
When life has other plans for you
I’ve always thought that the "life had other plans" saying applied to big, important events in people’s lives – you lose your job, you find out you cannot have children, or you’re diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer. Now I’m sitting here and for the first time in my life I have to admit that life can have other plans for you even when small things are concerned.
Two years ago, when I embarked on the Paleo and AIP journey, I was deadly convinced that everyone can take their fate into their own hands. Actually, I’m still convinced of that, though to a lesser extent. We are all responsible for playing well with the cards life has dealt us. But there are areas of life (not super important life events but small, almost every-day issues) in which life can still have other plans for you.
I would like to share how my long-term illness (I just got endometriosis and adenomyosis confirmed through MRI) influenced areas in my life in which I had never thought I would have to make concessions. I am sharing all this in hope it may help others. When you have a long-term illness, your life inevitably changes. But it’s not necessarily a change for the worse. I prefer to see it as a change of perspective. You’ll learn new things and you’ll become stronger. (Yeah, I know you have your doubts, I sometimes do, too.)
MY OLD LIFE:
Two years ago I was this crazy kind of a girl who would never miss her four cardio classes a week. If you know Les Mills (I was addicted to Body Combat and Body Jam), you know the winning feeling you get from locking yourself up in a room with a bunch of other crazy people that crush their physical limits, helped by a super cool instructor and the latest dance and/or action music hits. Freeletics, a bodyweight training programme, did the same for me, too.
I didn’t do it to look good, I did it to get a dose of endorphins, to listen to great music, to hang out with amazing people, and to enjoy the feeling of overcoming my limits.
MY NEW LIFE:
Who would have thought that I’ll get to a state where I can only handle 20 minutes of yoga twice a week, and the occasional chill hip hop class.
I am sorry that it had to come to this, and I miss the invigorating feeling I used to have. But life had other plans for me. Now, my body simply cannot handle such stress. There are times when I can’t handle anything else than the walk to and from work. But if I want to get healthy, I have no other choice than to listen to my body, and stop fretting about something I cannot change in the short-term anyway.
Now, I know myself better. And I know that pushing the limits while popping pain killers to mask physical symptoms (let alone taking the Pill to do that) is not the right solution for me. It’s unnatural and it only hides the root cause of my symptoms. It only postpones issues to a later date, and it’s not a path I’d want to go down anymore.
MY OLD LIFE:
I am a social creature (though I’ve been doubting that more and more, recently) and I was always in for a social get-together – an all-day sports event, a drink with friends after work, a house-warming party, birthday, or a salsa fiesta. I know a bunch of Spanish-speakers, and their fiestas all too well – leave home at midnight and party till the dawn. A bunch of Latino friends will make any party fun, and there’s no chance you’d even think of being tired towards the morning.
MY NEW LIFE:
Currently, I’m hardly able to commit to an after-work cup of tea with my best friends. I am in touch with a few of my closest buddies, and I sadly observe the rest of social life in town from afar. It makes me feel sad, and what’s worse, I’m afraid that the once optimistic and ever-smiling girl will become a loner. Well, life had other plans for me. If I want to have hope that I’ll feel better one day and will have enough energy to spend more time with my friends, I have no other choice than to come to terms with the fact that for now I will miss all social events.
MY OLD LIFE:
You may have been there: You’ve turned 30, you got your dream job and now can slow down a bit. You have a nice salary and there’s no family to take care of just yet. It’s an ideal opportunity to catch up on all the years of hard work to get where you are now.
I love traveling, be it with my boyfriend, my bestie, or by myself. Every place has its own magic and I love discovering and exploring. When I travel alone, I enjoy the feeling of having time for myself and being able to turn inwards and meditate on the go. That’s why I used to grab every opportunity to do some traveling: Several trips to my beloved Scotland, weekends after my business trips all around Europe, excursions to sports events or salsa festivals. Much better than spending money on tangible things, if you ask me.
MY NEW LIFE:
I must say I still haven’t been able to find my peace about my currently limited ability to travel. Unfortunately, I had an excruciating experience after my last long weekend trip to Amsterdam, where I got my period and wasn’t able to get out of bed for more than two hours a day. I can’t begin to describe how desolate I was. But life has had other plans for me. It’ll take time to accept the fact that, in my current state, it’s just better for me to stay at home and take good care of myself. I am hoping to learn to naturally respect my cycle and plan my travels in synch with it (as well as with possible medical interventions).
By the way, I’ve discovered Alisa Vitti’s WomanCode, where she explains that respecting your monthly cycle is of utmost importance if you’re dealing with hormone imbalance. It’s a great natural way to give your body what it needs (together with other important lifestyle changes), and to not force it into activities it may not be able to handle.
Professional and intellectual life
MY OLD LIFE:
I’ve been lucky to get my dream job – I work as a simultaneous interpreter for EU institutions. The job is very interesting, very particular, and very intellectually demanding. You need to be able to maximally concentrate, simultaneously perform many tasks and constantly make decisions that don’t take more than a second. Plus, an interpreter has to perfectly know several languages and never stop hunting for knowledge because they work at a different technical or political meeting every day.
Not only was I able to achieve all this, I was proud that after a pretty harsh first year I was able to handle all (relatively) smoothly. I was able to think efficiently, react fast and not get as tired as some other colleagues. At the end of a demanding day, I was still full of energy to take my favourite gym class. In addition to all this, I managed to learn French in three years. And, of course, I launched this blog as a wonderful hobby of mine! (A hobby, that makes me never stop looking for the newest information and research.)
MY NEW LIFE:
It’s hard to admit but I find work very exhausting these days. Working in the booth costs me so much energy that I am longing for a nap long before the meeting gets to the finish line. I even had to ask for medical part-time and work only three days a week.
My favourite work travels that used to turn into active get-away weekends have become a nightmare. There were times when the journey took all my energy away and left me fearing whether I will be able to get out of bed the next day.
Suddenly, reading a book and taking notes about new knowledge out there has become a chore (though I found it fun and motivating before). My French studies have come to a halt and tons of ideas for blog posts remain just a list jotted down on paper. Life has other plans for me. My plans to learn Dutch and take a course in functional nutrition (or such) have ended up in the freezer. For now, they remain a big dream for the future.
It's tough for the partner, too
I don’t want to say much about relationships because a) I’m no expert, and b) there are many different situations and stages people can be in. If I have a chronic illness, I need to take care of myself and behave in a responsible way whether I’m happily single, going through a painful break-up, looking forward to a wedding, or I need to take care of children (in addition to all health issues). Relationships are where the saying “Life can have other plans for you” applies with even more force.
Nevertheless, I would still like to say that chronic illness is taxing for the partner, too. Sometimes, it’s not only myself who needs to change their plans and come up with new dreams. Everyone has to adapt to the situation and everyone has to find inner strength. It is not easy.
New Year’s resolution in November
As you can see, there are many aspects of life that have to conform to the illness. So I’ve decided to make a New Year’s resolution already in mid-December (unlike the majority of people):
Next year, I will respect my health and my life will revolve around it. There are currently many things in life I cannot choose freely, and the same applies to my resolution. I cannot choose to focus on my career or to work on my sports skills. I cannot plan a trip to Cuba, or a bursary in France. I cannot, or rather… I choose not to. I could go against my natural instincts and go on pretending all is fine and illness hasn’t happened. But I know that if I go against my body, my victory will be short-lived. And the fall will be even harder.
That’s why I will make a humble resolution of respecting my body’s needs. I will take a lot of rest and learn to thrive through simple activities like yoga or walks. I will stay at home in the evenings and listen to music or do some knitting. I will limit my travels next year, and will only schedule them when I’m sure I can physically handle it. And I will take a break from professional and intellectual challenges. I will cherish small baby steps.
The old me still keeps nagging, saying that such a year isn’t good enough, that it’s boring and utterly unsatisfactory. But life has other plans for me. If I manage to get on the same page with my fate, I will take a much bigger step towards health. And who knows, maybe I will be able to dream big the year after the next.
Update: Three years later, I’m feeling much much better in all aspects of my life. I have had an excision surgery by a specialist, though that is not the only factor that led to my recovery. I continued with following the Paleo approach, and more importantly, I learned to take much better care of myself, truly respecting my body’s needs. Let this article be your inspiration during difficult times, and please know that things will turn around and you will start feeling better, especially if you take steps to care for your health. If you don’t know where to start, I warmly recommend the following books: Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, Beyond the Pill by Jolene Brigthen, and WomanCode by Alisa Vitti. They are invaluable resources on the topic of female hormones, and they contain specific tips for pations with endometriosis or adenomyosis. You can also visit my favourite books page where you’ll find dozens more helpful titles. Take care and be strong!
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