I remember the “old” me like it’s someone else. Someone else who took risks. Someone else who moved all the way across the country to try something new. Someone else who traveled overseas alone. Someone else who went scuba diving with sting rays despite her fear of open water (and yes, I was terrified of the open water! I was happy with the sting rays. Go figure.) Someone else who simply did things.
But no, it was me. Me before I felt this sick and tired and in pain all the time. Except not really. My nausea was much worse back then. The pain was just as bad (or worse), simply in fewer parts of my body. But the fatigue wasn’t the same. The food limitations weren’t so strict. The knowledge of how sick I was hadn’t reached me yet. I figured I was ok, just with pain and nausea, and so I did things.
And now I don’t.
I haven’t been on an airplane in almost 7 years. I miss travel, but I don’t do it. What’s the worst that could happen? I hate to think about it. But would it really be all that bad?
Why don’t I try new things that are fun and exciting? Sure, I do new things, but they’re boring things. I’m writing a book. I tried a new group through Meetup. I have started dog sitting. I might enjoy the things, but they don’t open me to exciting new experiences. They don’t expand my view of the world. They aren’t like scuba diving with sting rays.
For a long time I have been frustrated by feeling like I couldn’t do things. Now I question if maybe I could do those things, but my fear is what’s holding me back. I get different opinions from my doctors. No one tells me sure, it’s no problem if I want to fly to England to visit a friend there. But they also don’t tell me it’s a horrible idea and I shouldn’t consider it. I get a lot of, “you could probably do it if….”
And then I wonder if my fear is rational. I’m worried about having a lousy trip because I feel horrible the entire time. It seems like a waste to spend a lot of time, effort, and money on a trip that I won’t even enjoy. But I could risk that. It’s not what’s ultimately holding me back. No, what’s holding me back is a fear of setting back my health.
If you have been following this blog, you know that 6 years ago, I was struggling, but getting by. I worked a full time job and sometimes went out after work. I liked a fairly “normal” life. Then things got so bad that I was on bed rest 3-5 days a week. Now I am doing much better than I was a few years ago, but no where near well enough to work a full time job. I can’t even manage a part time job. Still, things have been slowly improving. Doing something big and exciting could set me back. And a backslide could take years to recover from. I’m scared to risk that!
And let’s be clear, I’m not only talking about travel. I would love to go ziplining locally, but what if I injure myself, or my adrenals can’t handle the excitement? I want to go to a party and stay out late and have fun, but whenever I try I feel horrible for days afterwards, sometimes weeks, so now I’m scared to do it anymore. I want to try a new type of food that’s free of gluten, corn, and the other foods I can’t eat, but what if it makes me sick? I could go on and on.
Some of these are reasonable and I should avoid them. But others….. am I letting fear hold me back too much?
Fear has it’s place. It protects us from doing things that will hurt us. But right now, I wonder if it’s stopping me from experiencing great things that I will love. Things that will make me happy. Because what’s the point of life if I’m not experiencing it? Then again, what’s the point of life if I’m always making myself miserable?
I don’t have an answer to these questions, but at least I have gotten to the point of questioning my own fears and whether or not they are valid. I’m frustrated that I don’t have answers, but I am glad to be asking the questions.
Maybe one day I will be able to answer: are these fears reasonable?
If you have dealt with similar fears, how have you handled them? Do you take the risks, or avoid them?
I think us chronic people fear because we know how bad it can be and have no desire to go back there. So we just hermit ourselves away. Sometimes I too yearn for the things I used to do but I have found a different happiness. It is not so full on, more of a ripple. I’m glad you’re dog sitting, dogs give you unconditional love which we need. Big hugs xx
You’re right, Lorna. It’s totally different once we know how bad it can be (and realize it could be worse than we even know.) It’s great you have found that different kind of happiness. I did for a while, but I have been feeling more restless lately. Maybe I’ll get back to that place. I’m just not sure what the “right” or “best” approach is for me right now.
Wow, this really hit me. I just canceled the trip to England because I got an extra problem in addition to my normal spoonie problems. Before I was sick I went to the Galapagos Islands by myself. I wasn’t super adventurous but I was curious, always. I traveled in Russia and South America. Now I don’t do anything except read and work on my blog.
Miss D! It’s been ages! It’s good to hear from you 🙂 But I’m so sorry to hear you had to cancel your trip – that totally sucks. I hope that you can enjoy reading and working on your blog for now. Good luck with everything – I hope it all improves a bit (or more than a bit, if possible!)
Yes, I am fed up with fear too! I have been pushing myself to do small things lately. Nothing adventurous though. I am too afraid to stray very far from my chair and bed. How very sad is that? I make lists of stuff I need to accomplish then get a small bit of joy when I can finally cross one off. I really do wish I could do more exciting things but like you I am so afraid of getting worse.
Yeah, I hear you, Gloria. It’s great you’re pushing yourself to do small things, but I know what it’s like to want to do bigger things. I hope we can both find a way to get there.