Chocolate Days and Ice Cream Nights
This enlightening message started with a thought that should have been depressing, but suprisingly, it was not, instead, it was liberating;
A week ago, after a long hiatus of disability, and "couregous fight with cancer of the mind, depression" I have finally re-entered the society of the "gainfully employed". As I spent my week trying to readjust to "normal" life again, I realized, how much I have improved, how far I have came from that dark pit I've fallen almost a year ago....but I also realized, how far I still am from that peak, from the "top of the game" where I have lost my footing, slipped, and fallen into the depts of living hell.
You see, I was always a perfectionist overachiever...for many reasons, I will not go into here. I had dreams, ambitions, and hopes galore. I was a plan maker, a to do list maker, a go getter....and I did get somewhere, even if I did not get where I WANTED to go: all the way to the top. I wanted it ALL, and I nearly killed myself trying to get it all. One of the things I was most proud of, almost to the point of being arrogant, was my "beautiful mind". I was said to be intelligent, smart...gifted and talented even. I was organized, I was efficient, I was bubbly, positive, oh, I was such a fake...inside, I was a frightened little girl, who was desperately trying to do things right, to avoid punishment, to avoid pain....
I was doing quite well in my "faking it" when I've crashed. I was an independent, sassy, ambitious professional, I was going to school and getting good grades, I was holding one and a half jobs, I had savings, I had good credit, I had a boyfriend, I had...I had...well, whatever I had, I've lost in about two weeks....
What frightened me the most was the loss of my "mind'...my intelligence...When I was at my worst, I could not even concentrate on the simplest task, I forgot my passwords, I could not think, I could not write, I could not read. I remember telling my kids: if the doctors would ever say I am a "chronic" case, and I will not get any better, I want to pull the plug and I want to die. I can live in a wheelchair, I can live in a homeless shelter, I can live on the streets, but I can not, ever live without my mind!
Eventually of course, I got better. Part of my recovery was the acceptance and understanding, that I am not guaranteed to steadily get better until I get back to where I was, and certainly, I am not guaranteed to keep getting better...I can crash tomorrow, or ten years from now, maybe never...but, I am not GUARANTEED to lick it this time.
To make the long story somewhat shorter, I became painfully aware today, that my organized/happy/successful/overachiever life was still out of my reach. I used to do so much, achieve so much, accomplish so much, and now, I am happy if I can keep my apartment in a relative order, if I do not forget to turn off the stove, and if I can go through a day of work...and everything takes so much energy and concentration, so much harder than it used to be.
The real "insight" came in the middle of my workout session....I am a recent fitness nut, having lost more than fifty pounds in the last two years. As my body got slimmer and more shapely, I came to expect, that if I continue to work out, my body will get progressively more and more beautiful...muscular, young looking, sexier...then, today, I looked in the mirror by the stairmaster,and suddenly realized the obvious: I am getting older, no matter what I do (consider the alternative of being dead, lol)...no matter how much I work out, ....when I will be ninety, if I'll live to be ninety, even if I'll look twenty years younger than my real age, I'll still look like a seventy year old!!
I laughed out loud, when I imagined myself, a ninety year old woman, on the stairmasters,trying to look twenty...I realized, to my amusement, not sadness, that as far as my "beauty" goes, I probably have already reached and passed the "peak"...it is going to be all downhill from now on, and all I can do is to slow down the pace of the descent.
Then, suddenly, this thougth came to me: what if I have reached the "peak" in all of my endeavors? What if I will not only not be more successful, more independent, more rich, more happy, more loved than I was a year ago, when I've "slipped", but...what if I will not get any better than I am RIGHT NOW...WHAT IF THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS?!
I should have been depressed then, but instead, I felt a huge pressure falling off my shoulders. I don't NEED to get better...I HAVE been to the top...I HAVE been to the peak. Been there, done that...I've done my best. I felt like the time after a particularly hard research project I had to do for school...after many sleepless nights, revisions, cursing, coffee, tears and sweat, I've run out of time, and had to hand in my work, as imperfect and "unfinished" it was. I knew, if I had two more weeks, or even two more hours, I could have improved upon it...but time was up, and now, all I had to do, was to wait for the grade.
Of course, I am not giving up hope, dreams and ambitions...but whatever comes next, whatever more comes, will be icing on the cake...unexpected but hoped for.
And another thought came to me -bear with me if you will: when I was a young bride, in what seems like thousand of years ago...my ex husband, who was young, loving, and handsome then, used to bring me a bar of chocolate every day, hidden in his pocket, there would it be, day after day after day. I came to expect the chocolate after a while,and while I was happy to get it, I was not particularly gratious. It was expected. Then...I don't remember exactly when, he came home,and there was no chocolate...there was again the next day, but more and more often, he forgot to bring it, until first there were more days without chocolate than with chocolate...and one day, the chocolate days stopped altogether.
I started to appreciate chocolate days much more, when they were no longer guaranteed, but what I regret the most, is that I did not know, I was not warned of the LAST chocolate day...I did not know the last bar of chocolate was the LAST bar of chocolate. Should I HAVE known...I would have either kept it, or would have at least eat it slow, appreciating it, trying to make it last.
I am not terminally ill -although life itself is a terminal illness- but I am all of a sudden aware, that there might not be any more "success", "achievements', "richess", no more travel to the caribbean, no more love affairs, man problems, no more child problems, no more days with my grandson, no more drives to the country...no more workouts, no more "chocolate days", no more chocolate...and one day, there will be no more "days".
I think, you know where I am going with this: I am going to check those pockets for the chocolate every day, I will be hoping for the chocolate, but I will not expect it....but each and every bar of chocolate I'll find, I will appreciate and enjoy as if it was the last.
With that, I am now going to go and eat some of my favorite Rolo Chocolate Ice Cream...who cares, if I'll won't have the body of a twenty year old?! I've been twenty once...but I might not be ninety...and this might be the last chance I've got to eat Ice Cream...at least on this side of infinity.