You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
A month ago I accomplished a task that had eluded me for years: I finally quit smoking. It was something I had kept closeted, ashamed that I could make sweeping changes in my life, but couldn’t get that one task done. The first couple of weeks were challenging, but I had surrounded myself with a team of ex-smokers, so I got through it with some discomfort, but without climbing the walls. The feeling was awesome.
Weeks later, I’m now crystal clear that I’m finished with smoking forever. What solidifies that? I have been the sickest of my life as my body is detoxing.
I knew my body would go through a healing process. I had no idea that it would look like me on my back, wracked with pain, swollen beyond recognition and unable to live much of a life for weeks. My anger and dismay has been indescribable. I do something good for myself and this is the result? I know it will be over soon, but come on already. I’m walking around with 10 extra pounds of water because my body is freaked.
The cherry on the sundae: I signed up for a 5K mud run on June 16th. At the time, I had more than 8 weeks to train, so I was totally confident I could manage the training.
Then my fibromyalgia flare-up happened, and last week I watched myself tell my 80-year-old mother we had to leave the grocery store because my legs were about to give out — 15 minutes after we arrived.
The fury. If you have a chronic illness, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t have time for this. I’ve got a company to run, things to do, damn it.
So yesterday I went to my 5K team and told them I had to bow out. They responded.
“Jen, how do we support you to keep your word in running this race? What will it mean for thousands of people with chronic illness if you do it anyway? There’s plenty of time — and we are your team. We can do this together one step at a time. How can we help?”
And that is why I’m running this race. Because on the days when I feel like the most unlucky person on earth with this illness, my support network reminds me why it’s quite the opposite. I am truly blessed.
I’m running that race for you, for me, for my team, and for every person who thinks they can’t. Because I say we can.
UPDATE: I did not, in fact, run this race. My body took much longer to heal than I expected, and while it was a very difficult decision to make, it was not responsible given where my health was. The good news is that there’s a new plan underway, and I’ll be blogging along the journey. It’s called Operation String Bikini, so stay tuned for details!