Looking back: August 3rds

One of the reasons I like to blog is because all these years of entries have created a record of my journey.

I hadn't looked back much lately until tonight; a bit ago I read the August archives.

This post from August 3, 2009 makes me smile. It also makes me a little tearful. How did 7 years go by so swiftly? I want to do it all again - only I'd like to carry with me the lessons I've learned along the way.

August 3, 2010. Newly diagnosed with a platelet disorder. Determined to visualize myself back to health.

August 4, 2011: WORD OF THE WEEK! Oh how much fun we had with those weekly posts full of reader photo submissions.

And then August 4, 2012 and the visit to the Wabasha kimono shop. How was that 4 years ago? Right around the last summer Olympics!

Alison and I saw a bald eagle in my backyard around August 4, 2013 when she came to visit. She noticed it while we sat at the table for breakfast.

August 5, 2014...a day after my allergic reaction to platelets. I remember writing that post and how freeing it felt to be so vulnerable.

And then last year. Last August. It feels like a lifetime ago...or more accurately, it feels now like a life that wasn't mine.

I remember that it was my life when people remind me saying things like, "You were in the hospital last summer." Or "How's your health?" Or "Remember how sick you were?"

And while I certainly do remember, watching the tapes in my head is like watching a film at the theater. None of it feels like me. When I see the woman on the screen, I feel compassion for her...but I don't identify with her.

If I'm honest, I want to erase it all and never be reminded of the majority of 2015. I want to forget, and I want everyone to forget. I want everyone to forget. I want to get a new chance to write my whole story.

Or...more concisely...I want control.

I want to control it all.

But...alas...life doesn't work that way.

When I think these kind of thoughts...about wanting to delete a part of my life...about wanting no one to know about my platelets...about wanting to have kept ITP private all these years so no one could ever pity me or think of me as sickly or ask me about my health...when I think these thoughts, I feel tension inside and sadness.

I'm at such a peaceful, joyful juncture in my life - but now and then, these thoughts still suck me in. These thoughts lead me to a kind of suffering that I don't want to experience anymore. So by using Byron Katie's method of inquiry...I'm starting to question my thoughts.

What are the stories I am telling myself?

Well - I'm telling myself that difficult experiences should be avoided or deleted. I'm telling myself that life would be easier for me if I could erase all the difficult files. I'm telling myself that people would value me more and differently if they didn't know about ITP or platelets or last summer. I'm telling myself that my worth would be greater if I could do it all differently.

And all these stories I'm telling myself aren't true. They're just judgments. They're just thoughts. And as quickly as they come in, I can release them. They're all stories. I'm living inside a story that my mind spends all day writing and re-writing...it's all just an interpretation I create. So it's up to me to choose a different narrative.

So I go through all these Augusts...2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014...2015...and then now...the best August of my life. 2016. This has been one of the most remarkable, wonderful summers I can ever imagine. It's sweet like honey, and I am indescribably thankful.

But what do I do with 2015? How do I file it away? How do I interpret it? What is my story? What is the story I'm going to tell myself for the rest of my life about 2015?

I think I'm beginning to see that 2015 happened just as it needed to happen in order for me to be in the spot that I'm in now. Last summer was hell. Or last summer was the most strangely beautiful present I will ever receive. For, as Mary Oliver says, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

It's all just a story I tell myself. So what story will better equip me to build a peaceful life? Whatever that story is - that's the one I want to tell.

I can't change reality. I can't argue with it. I can't undo it or redo it or erase it. Fighting with reality will only lead me to suffer more, and who wants that? Not me. Not any of us.

This is reality. And gosh it is so delicious. My life right now is like the sweetest peach. My health is stable. My family is grand. My boyfriend is delightful. Work is fantastic. Truly, in my wildest dreams, I didn't imagine this kind of happiness and laughter and sunshine. I know enough to know life has seasons and it is ever-changing. But for now...for this moment...I'll just be grateful.

So how could I ever betray reality...or slight it...or deny it...or threaten to erase it?

I can't control any of it. There is no control in this life. It's all an illusion. All I can do is interpret the things that happen through a lens of grace and gratitude.

In 2015, I got lost. And now, I am no longer lost.

There is a bliss I know now that I never knew before. When you're lost in a forest with no map...parched and starving...surviving on tiny sips of dirty water...there is a hopelessness that sets in. You wander and you wander. You fall in and out of sleep.

And then, there's a light up ahead. At the bottom of the hill.

That's the moment when you realize you're not lost after all...that you won't die in the forest...that while you were wandering in the woods, the rest of the world was still going...and now you can jump back in. That's bliss.

I know that emotion now. The elation of existence. And it is now the foundation of all the rest of the emotions.

These are the stories I will choose to tell myself. 2015 mattered. It doesn't need to be erased. It doesn't need to be done over again. I am valuable and lovable, not in spite of 2015, but because of 2015. The girl in the movie that still plays back now and then...I'm proud of her. She's a heroine.

The pages keep turning. The reel keeps spinning.

There are more moments to live and cherish. I will greet it all with gratitude. Because it all brought me here: August 3, 2016.

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