Letting Go

I think I’m starting to let go.

To let go of my previous life, my previous self. To let go of the hopes and dreams that I worked so hard for. To let go of the identity that I have clung to, so fiercely and for so long.

Part of me is terrified. Part of me wants to redouble my grip, to force myself back to that time when I felt confident. When I felt like I was on a path.

But there is another part, growing larger every day, that feels free. A part that glories in the release, that feels a burden lifted, not a blanket torn away.

I am starting to realize that I am not who I used to be. Not simply that I cannot do the things I used to do, but that I am altogether a different person.

A large part of that has to do with my physical change. Just one element of my condition, my light and sound sensitivity has changed something as simple as my relishing a bright and sunny day, to dreading it, and embracing the clouds.

My preferences have changed, my habits have changed, my thoughts have changed, and I have changed.

And while I find it terrifying to let go of the past, as well as freeing to embrace the present, lately I have another thought haunting my mind.

If I am not who I used to be, then who am I presently?

I grew up feeling very secure in myself. I did not have a 5 or 10 year plan, but I knew exactly what mattered to me. I knew what I wanted to spend my life doing, and I felt confident in my ability to work hard enough to achieve a life that I found fulfilling.

Now, however free, I am also adrift. My preferences have changed, and I am not familiar with them. I think that I want to listen to Puccini and then have to turn off the music because I cannot handle the dynamic orchestration. I am still solidifying my habits, experimenting, unsure. I am often taken aback by the thoughts that run through my mind, the areas I dwell on so different from before.

I am starting to let go of the person I once was. I am freeing myself of the responsibility I have felt towards that person, to persevere towards their passions and ambitions. And I am searching for what I want, here and now. What will make me happy. What life is right for me.

And that may actually coincide with my previous dreams. I don’t know. I don’t believe that that girl who wrote point form notes when ideas for the future struck is gone. I don’t think those dreams are irrelevant.

But I have changed. I have evolved. It is only natural that those dreams have too. And that my methods must as well.

It’s a lot to process, this lack of a path, map, or destination. And it’s scary.

But, after all, what is more normal for someone in their early 20s, than to feel unsure of who they are and what they want? To embark on a journey of self-discovery?

Maybe it’s not all that complicated. Maybe it’s just growth.

Advertisements

Assurance

Over the past few days I have been surprising myself and those around me with a strong display of assertiveness. Or perhaps the surprise has been in the lack of a display. Of any display.

This week I have been faced with multiple confrontations. Some were expected. An appointment with a new medical practitioner always seems to carry a battle-like element, whether openly adversarial or not. Some involved strangers, the discord that can arise when assumptions are made and expressed. And some involved family, people who are only looking out for my best interests, but have their own opinions about what those might be.

I generally avoid confrontation at all costs. It’s not that I back away per se, I simply try to remove any potential for conflict before it arises. And when I feel tension creeping into my days, I feel ill. I worry about what I may have said, I dissect the impressions I might have given off, and I overanalyze into the night.

This week was full of something that I struggle with, and yet I felt none of the usual anxiety that generally accompanies the discord.

I felt calm throughout my various appointments, simply going through my medical history, cracking a few jokes, owning up to past mistakes in my care management, and taking pride in my current physical state.

I did not grow upset at the comments of strangers, calling me a princess for taking a cab to physiotherapy. They did not know me, and I did not need them to. I simply laughed, sat back, and let them drive me to my appointment.

And I felt detached, as some of those closest to me grew frustrated.

I am very proud of the way that I dealt with my medical appointments and the dismissal of strangers. I feel strong in my confidence.

But I am unnerved by my feelings of detachment and ambivalence towards the frustrations of family members. After all, they are frustrated because they care. And whether they simply want to be involved, or whether they truly believe that they can help, ultimately, it is because they care about me. They care enough to get legitimately annoyed when I don’t share information about my appointments and my day to day symptoms.

And yet, I have listened to increasingly pointed comments with no guilt whatsoever. Completely contrary to the stress I usually feel when I have disappointed someone.

I don’t wish pain on anyone. Especially not someone who truly cares about me. And I most certainly don’t wish to be the cause of that person’s pain.

I want to laugh with the people that I love, and that love me. I want to share with them, to live alongside them.

But I refuse to halt or alter my decisions at the whims of others. I will not make my life more complicated, to reassure others of their influence on my progress. Of the value they bring.

And, truly, I don’t think anyone would actually want me to. These people who rush to give me advice, who grow annoyed when I don’t take it, when I don’t divulge the gritty details of my health, are the people who, more than anything, want me to succeed. They want me to be happy.

I am fighting desperately to create a life for myself. I hope to always be there for the people in my life, just as they have been for me, but I cannot and will not live my life on anyone else’s terms but my own.

It doesn’t have to be a solo journey. But it does have to be mine.

And I feel no guilt in that.

Choices

I’m struggling to find a way to express myself. Or maybe that just it. I’m struggling. I have spent this past week trying desperately to be positive, to move forwards, but I’m struggling.

I feel as if I have suddenly lost a protective shield that I wasn’t fully aware I possessed, and I am now alone, squinting my eyes at the sun, confused and raw.

I have spent over a week searching for a general practitioner, simply the starting point for setting up a medical team, but have been bounced from practice to practice, all assuring me that the other will be a much better fit.

I feel like a stranger in this city, an attachment to existing lives, feeling so small as those who love me rush to take care of me, unwittingly thrusting me into their shadow.

I miss my independence. I miss knowing the city I live in. I miss my furniture that has yet to arrive. I miss my doctors. And I miss my friends. I miss feeling like I belong.

Lying in bed at night, I have found myself questioning if I made the right decision. And I have no answer, but allowing myself some time.

Moving back to the city I grew up in has involved a fair bit of explanation, largely revolving around what my plans are for the upcoming year. As I listen to others react to my chosen future program I am often surprised to feel a flash of anger, coming from beneath the support stockings that they cannot see. Behind my eyes covered by darkly tinted contact lenses, with my purse, stuffed with braces, electrolytes, and medications, weighing heavy at my side.

Because really, what choice did I have? My decision was to sink or swim. I chose to thrash out against the waves. What kind of a choice is that? And what about it bears discussion? I am simply trying to survive, to carve out a life for myself, my present self.

And yet, as quickly as that anger comes, it fades away. Because as true as that all might be, it doesn’t quite acknowledge the entirety of the situation.

Right now, I’m fighting against the waves. Right now, I’m struggling to stay afloat. Right now, I am simply trying to survive.

But at some point I chose which direction to swim towards. I chose to come to Ottawa. I chose a specific subject that I wanted to study. And I knew that it would be hard. I left the comfort and safety of one area to brave something new, to gain possibilities and potential. I shed my protective shield as it was heavy and I needed to move, to live.

It may have been a limited choice, but really, what choices aren’t?

And so I will keep fighting, keeping carving through the waters. I made a choice, and I will work to give it it’s best chance to not only survive, but to thrive.

To give myself my best chance to not only survive, but to thrive.

 

Parts of a Whole

Well, I guess that happened. I moved. I officially live in Ottawa once more.

As the plane touched down I felt incredibly startled, my eyes blinking in shock. It all seemed to happen so fast. The plane rushed through layers of dense fog, abruptly landing amidst a city,just as I had been hurtling through packing and goodbyes, only to arrive in Ottawa with no plans, nothing waiting for me.

Of course, the hurtling didn’t stop immediately when I landed. It still hasn’t stopped. Throughout the past few days I have been gradually moving over to my beautiful new apartment, and I won’t even have internet until Tuesday. There are members of my family who I have yet to see, and I am hurriedly trying to organize a basic medical team, with my first appointment tomorrow.

But I have been rushing towards this destination, this move, for quite a while, and now that the physical transfer of cities is complete, I’m not really sure what I should be doing.

I have four months until classes start, with no plans beyond getting ‘settled’.

And that’s important. It’s the reason I moved at the beginning of the summer. To have time before classes begin, to find doctors, therapists, and trainers, to adjust to the Ottawa climate, to learn what transit works for me, and to get used to the quirks of a new space.

But it doesn’t exactly give me a schedule. It doesn’t give me a chance to meet people, and to live, not to merely exist.

Theoretically, these 4 months should be a gift. It’s quite rare that anyone gets a block of time with no obligations or responsibilities, free to fill however they wish.

And yet, I’ve been struggling to come up with activities.

I used to be limited in my summer plans because everything in my life revolved around music. I wrote music exams, so I couldn’t travel. I had to stop going to summer sleep away camp. I couldn’t stay out late because I had competitions and auditions. I always had rehearsal.

And now, I have none of those constraints. But I feel choked by financial and physical limitations. I want to dance. I want to run. I want to sing. I want to perform. I want to travel. I want to work, to work enough to earn the money to travel and see great performances. To see my friends who are now so far away.

I feel like my body is holding me back from opportunities. And I fear that as I go to meet new people, people to make plans and fill my time with, that it will rise up and mask me, that I will not get a chance to show them who I truly am.

But the thing is, although I chose music and I didn’t choose illness, both are a part of me. Neither define me, but both are interwoven into my being, my exposure to them has affected more of me than I can ever fully grasp.

I have been struggling, trying to find ways around my body, to let ‘myself’ out of this apparent prison. But really, by seeing my body as separate from my being, I am only doing myself a disservice.

Because of my body, I prefer quiet conversations with close friends. I get excited over comfortable clothing and fancy spices and salts. I like alone time. I need schedules. I am cynical. I am empathetic. I write my thoughts down. And I creak when I walk.

On most days, I quite like who I have become. And my body is a part of that, just as music has been. So when I look for activities and people to share them with, it will be with the understanding that this is who I am now.

And that’s going to have to be okay.