So, here’s the deal. You are feeling your age, which is not surprising considering you are firmly ensconced in the middle of your life. You watch Hollywood starlets who share your birth year smile with perfect, gleaming teeth and model-perfect bodies, but you know better than to compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone in life experiences personal struggle, and their story is their own to write or keep private. You remind your girls of the perils of airbrushed perfection, to be grateful their bodies work. Follow your own advice.
That is part of the problem, though. Your body is not complying, not “working” as it should. Aches and pains grow to agonies that keep you awake and miserable. Your right leg inexplicably gives out, the torn rotator cuff still complains, and arthritis throbs and flares. Collapsed discs in your spine make moving your head feel like you are grinding the vertebrae to dust. Then there is this latest, with its personal, unidentified pain which shoots through your breast like an electrical current. Not cancer, but something the professionals haven’t defined to date.
The betrayal of your body stuns you. As an active youth, you worked through Charlie horses and cramps to triumph in sports arenas. You danced and won trophies, controlled and comfortable with your strength and flexibility. You wonder how your present physical distresses stymie your progress.
You feel like a heel complaining, though, since you see the struggles of others around you. Heck, within your own family, there are genuine disabilities. Your Sarah faces the challenges of Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy every day of her life. Your husband survived a head-on collision on his way to work in July 2011, which left him disabled and in frequent pain. During his months in the hospital and rehab facility, he kept the nursing staff and doctors laughing with his wit and sarcasm. At different times in her life, your Mom bested cancer, a compound fractured leg, and a broken hip, and through it all, her attitude remained optimistic.
It is a wonder to me, therefore, when you find lifting your head from the pillow a difficulty. You are made of stronger stuff, and the examples of indomitable courage in your personal experiences should buoy you up. Keep your face to the positive, work through the negative, and deal with situations as they come. You have, with God’s help, gotten through floods of grief and pain to see beauty blossom in the tear-enriched soil of your soul.
Kerry E.B. Black walks the shores of the Allegheny, searching for the rhythm and balance of life. Mom of 5 amazing young people, wife to an incredible man, and part of a loving, supportive family, Kerry counts her blessings every day.
To read more letters, click on The Path.