In a world of crazies and uncertainty, this line in an email stood out to me this morning:
Thanks for the update. I think your approach is good….
It wasn’t a lot. Just a few words from Dr. Leo to say checkmark, I read your email update. But somehow it was the nudge I needed for everything to fall in place.
Bethany’s bridesmaid #2 keeps asking me, How do you do it? How do you stay positive? Or she states it in the affirmative, I don’t know how you juggle everything — school, family, illness — and still stay positive. Somehow you always make it work. Bryan concurs. He told me once that I have a “great attitude”. I’m still not really sure what that means. Maybe it’s doctor-code for a patient that “doesn’t drive us crazy”. He elaborated a little and said that all my medical drama can be so frustrating, but he’s impressed that I’m able to work through it and stay positive.
The truth is I don’t know how I do it. I do it because I have to. I’m making the most of what I have.
That’s why Dr. Leo’s words encouraged me this morning. In essence, he’s saying, You’ve got this. Trust your instincts. They’re good. I’m here to help out along the way, but you’re doing just fine.
All of a sudden I’m remembering other conversations from the past few days. During a really hard exam with Dr. Mark, he just kept saying, Relax. Try to relax. while I was telling myself Keep breathing, Abigail. Keep breathing. Ok, take a breath. Let it out. See? Not that hard. It was a hard exam, mostly because I was in SO much pain (which is why I was there in the first place.) It didn’t help that there were people there to witness it, or a doctor saying, Does this make it worse? What about this? Or this? Or this? But mostly, it was pretty similar to the pain spikes that I’ve been having the past week. A ton of pain out of nowhere. Me, Abigail, sitting there (in class or a meeting or in bed or whatever) breathing, taking it one moment at a time, finding the inner peace (even if it’s deep down inside) and living through it. Relax. You’ve got this. Breathe.
Then, there was my dad’s best friend yesterday. We had a Skype video chat to Japan. We were talking about various things, and he kept stopping me to point out that I had this huge smile lighting up my face. He kept saying, You look really good, Abigail. I see this genuine joy. I don’t understand it. But I see it. It makes me happy. I don’t understand it either. But it’s there. That’s the real Abigail shining through. I am genuinely happy, especially when I’m taking care of other people. Even though a lot of my life is downright miserable, especially given the aforementioned pain, it’s still instinctual for me to find joy in other parts of my life. That’s just who I am.
My dad told me once that it’s not really the circumstances that have shaped me into the person that I am. The circumstances have only brought to light the character deep within me. In his eyes, I’ve always been compassionate and excellent at time management.
The truth is, deep within me, I’m also a survivor. My instincts drive the creativity necessary to make the most out of my hand of cards. I just need to trust that. Even when life gets hard (and it really does!), I’m learning who to turn to and when to get help. Just because I don’t do everything on my own doesn’t mean that I’m not steering the ship. I am.
The bottom line is Dr. Leo and Dr. Mark (and everyone else) are right. I’ve got this.
P.S. Please do not take this as a cue that you can abandon me to my own life and trials. I need, need, need all the support I can get. But, at the same time, some self-confidence can go a long way. 🙂