Today I spoke to a group of students at Palmer and I feel like I did pretty well. People laughed, as they tend to do when you let me ramble in front of a crowd, and I also managed to wake up at 6:50AM which is an accomplishment in itself.
After my brilliant performance (best moments include “Hold on, I forget what happens to me next” and “Crap, my phone is doing something weird, hold on”), I opened the floor to questions.
There were a lot of good ones, and it was a GREAT audience, but one question blew me away.
Someone asked me “You’ve talked a lot about what you lost because of your condition, but what have you gained?”
My initial response was “About 40 pounds”. (I’M HILARIOUS).
But then, I started thinking.
What have I gained?
Weight, yes, but as I started considering, I was–and still am– blow away by what *good* this has brought me in my life.
With the weight came a begrudging acceptance that I won’t always look how I want, but who I am and what I believe in is not nessessarily related to my jeans size– and that was one of the biggest things I think I needed in my life.
I gained a support system, a group of friends willing to go out of their way to carry things or take breaks and do their best to accommodate me.
I gained the ability to discern a true friend from someone just along for the ride, and while it was difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that not everyone around me was actually my friend, I gained a desire to show the people who were genuinely concerned my appreciation.
I gained the ability to balance a schedule made even more busy with doctors appointments and lengthy tests.
I gained the ability to drive in big city traffic without (much) trepidation.
I gained a relationship built on compassion and emotional support and a boyfriend who is beyond incredible. I started twitching literally 4 days after we officially started dating. Most people would bail on that, but he made it his prerogative to be there for me, even when I was shitty and angry and pissy or doped up out of my mind. He stayed. And that means the world to me.
I gained the ability to relish the small moments of victory—from being able to ride the rides at the Shady Carnival by the mall to finally being able to eat soup again without spilling– inconsequential for most, awesome for me.
I gained a talent for getting people to immediately see who I am based on my words and actions, not my physical appearance.
I gained the knowledge that not everyone has a medical problem you can see (or even happens 24/7) and became less judgmental because of it.
I gained the ability to put on eyeliner regardless of how shaky my hand may be that day.
I gained the willpower to ask for help and to admit that I’ve taken on too much.
I gained patience– for not being able to do things I wanted, for not being able to carry things or help people when I wanted to, for having to plan around my stupid twitch instead of just jumping in. Maybe waiting a day might be frustrating, but it is better than twitching for a week because of it.
I gained a sense of time– maybe I can’t do something right now, but that doesn’t mean that in 20 minutes or 20 seconds I still won’t be able to.
I gained the confidence to take things at my own pace. I used to be able to pull myself up a set of Silks and flip around like a crazy person and then go and run 6 miles. I think right now I can do like…4 push ups. I miss that strength and that stamina, but I know that I have to take things slowly and rebuild myself little by little, not all in one massive swoop.
I gained a better ability to sit still. (Well, you know). Sometimes all I can do is sit and read or watch tv– but Jake taught me to identify birds and I started writing again, so the stillness became a relaxing thing instead of something I dreaded.
I learned about myself– what I am capable of, what I am afraid of and how that affects me. I learned to be strong when I needed to be and I learned to let myself cry if I needed to.
I could go on and on– but I don’t think I need to. I just feel so…empowered after thinking about it and really examining things. I also feel lucky.
Lucky to have the chances I’ve had, to have friends like I do, to have someone like Jake for my adventuring partner– it’s a good feeling.
Today was a good day.