Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when it hurts. When it would be not just easier or more convenient to say no, but less painful, less exhausting, perhaps even, the healthier option– even then, sometimes, you gotta say yes.
As my role as the “sick girl” has slowly developed over the past few years, I’ve noticed how often and how easily I’ve begun to say no to things. And that’s mostly for the sake of my livelihood. I don’t have the endurance to do the things I once did, nor do I have the resilience to bounce back if I overstep the boundary. There’s an invisible line with illnesses like this; one that not even the sick person can see, and it doesn’t make a sound when you overstep. Not until later, when it’s too late to take anything back. So, you pay for it. And you start to feel your way through it, constantly guessing whether you’ve gone too far or done too much. It’s about as easy as pin the tail on the donkey in the dark, with booze. But this solid body of mine, as broken as it is, it always lets me know if I’ve infringed on that boundary. Always.
The last few days have been crappy. Not Colorado crash crappy, but, crappy. There have been a few 26 and 27 pills a day, days. Which I’m learning how to be OK with. Even sick days, where the most you do is brush your teeth, are OK too. They have to be. It’s interesting what this illness turns you into; a spectator where you once a participant. I often feel the quick pace of the world spinning and everyone rushing by with their busy lives, and then there’s me…just kind of,
standing lying there. I miss being busy. There’s something comfortable about always having something to do, someone to see; there’s an importance about it. I notice now how different my to-do lists are verses my to-do lists a few years ago. 1. Wash clothes. 2. Pick up prescriptions. 3. Buy new notebook!
I’ve begun examining my life a little closer lately, and am putting a lot of thought into how I spend my time. It’s really crazy to think that I can sort of do what I want given that I don’t have a full-time job or any REAL responsibility besides my health and my dog Monty. (Although I don’t know, one might call my constant correspondence with the Walgreens pharmacy a full-time job in and of itself. For real though.) The thing is, since I can’t hold a full-time job right now, I don’t have any income. So that’s the first damper on “Doing what I want.” The second damper is, duh, I’m incapacitated most of the time. If I had my way, I’d be going, and doing, and meeting, luncheoning, and painting and creating and…you get it. Saying YES a lot. I’d be one of those busy people with alphabetized spice racks and really organized DVD collections. And I’d run half marathons for fun! BLECH. Scuse me, I just puked thinking about running a half marathon. Anyway, that’s not my life. Most of the time I feel too exhausted for showers and everything I buy at this point is on someone else’s dime…so it’s really teaching me a lesson in humility, appreciation, and grace. Every night I pray that I will be able to pay back everyone who has been so gracious in taking care of me. And I solemnly believe that day will come. One day.
In the meantime, I have a lot of something that many people don’t: free time. And whether I’m sick or not, it’s up to me how I spend my time. I find myself feeling bad a lot about not having a full-time job and not being able to support myself. I was used to having a job and independence define me. But, I think that’s pride and the ego getting the best of me and I constantly have to remind myself that if I could, I would. But right now, it’s not where I am. So how about instead of feeling shitty on top of feeling shitty, I try to make better use of my time. I decided I’m going to read as much as I can, write as much as I can, and start looking at this free time as a gift instead of something that “happened to me.” A lot of people would love time off from work, to be a spectator, to read for the sake of reading. To be honest, not having something to do is harder than you’d think. We’re kind of a culture that tends to define ourselves by our work. I guess I’m redefining both my purpose and the definition of that word. Is it still considered work if you’re not getting paid?
This week has been rough health wise, but today I was sick and tired of being sick and tired more than I was actually sick and tired. SO, I said, screw it. I took a bath, got dressed, and went to the park with Monty. Not because I felt like it, not because it felt good even, but because I needed to get out. Sometimes I do the things I would do if I weren’t sick, just for a little while. I can go outside. I can throw a ball for Monty and finish reading my book. I felt shitty the whole time, but mentally I needed it. Chances are, I’ll pay for it tomorrow. But it’s one of those weeks where I felt like I would be paying for something tomorrow whether or not I did anything today, so I went for it. Every once in a while, it’s nice to feel like things are on my terms. It’s my way of giving the illness the middle finger. And you know what? It felt good! Screw you sickness. Today, Mary Gelpi SAID YES.
OK so maybe I am really over-glorifying my little trip to the park. But, I have to keep myself in check. It would be really easy for me to say no to anything that required leaving the house or socializing with people. I can feel the crotchety 80-year-old inside of me getting way too comfortable. I remind myself that I am 28. I need to stop being so opposed to meeting new people. (Dude, I hate meeting people. Also, I’m terrible at it.) I have to be OK with going places sometimes, because I think our souls like a change of scenery. I need to not automatically say no, even though my experience gives me that tendency. Sometimes I will pay for it, yes. But there’s a price to be paid for constantly saying no, too. So I’ve got to find the middle. I’m still young, and I need to start acting my age. Before I know it I’ll be drinking Ensure and wearing Oopse I Crapped My Pants. And then meeting people will be REALLY hard!
You know what else I did today? Bought a new notebook. That’s my favorite thing to buy. I’m very particular when it comes to notebooks. It takes me a while to pick one out and I sit there in front of the shelf of books running my fingers over pages, opening and closing it, taking measurements and looking like a crazy all the while, but I like to take my time. I can’t have things like paper texture or wide rule lines interfering with my writing. Anyway, I found a good one after going back and forth between two for 10 minutes. This is typically what I do when I buy anything. I’m very indecisive. So I’ll buy one, and then go home and think about the other. It’s terrible. Anyway, I’m trying to work on that. So I’m going to do some writing. And then some reading. And then I’ll do it again tomorrow I guess, in a park, and throw the stick for Monty. Because that’s what my life is right now, and it won’t always be that way. Maybe it’s not about being important. Maybe it’s just about being.
Health, Happiness, Yes.
*To all my family and homies in New Orleans, my thoughts are with yall. Although I’m pretty sure most of you are drunk and having an OK time. Stay safe.
12 thoughts on “Sometimes You Gotta Say Yes.”
Yes, life is tough. Whether like it or not, you still have to live your life. Thus, why don’t you say “yes”? A word can change a whole attitude, and an optimistic attitude can make impossible thing possible. I am pushing myself saying “Yes” more every single day. And how I feel now is that my world is so much bigger than before. “Yes” means acceptance, once I know how to accept things and adapt them, life becomes so much easier. I’m so happy to read your post. Do well on blogging
My best friend also suffers from this damn disease, and says no a helluva lot more than she says yes. She wont ever say it, but that last line you had about not being important, just being, really hit home. Not because she (or you im sure if youre anything like her, and your blog indicates you are) is unimportant, but I know she feels that way. I will tell you (as Ive told her) thats entirely untrue. You ARE very important, regardless of how you feel. Your friends, and family love you even if you cant be with some of them as much as you’d like, or in the capacity you’d like.
I say ‘yes’ far too often. I do it for my kids, because I have to. Other people probably think I say ‘no’ all the time, but every time I take my kids out, drive to a practice, go to a school meeting, take them shopping, that’s me saying a ‘yes’ when I really don’t have a ‘yes’ left in me.
Nevermind the times I say ‘extra yes with a side of extra pain!’. that would be to things like museums and long car trips and other “vacations”. I do it because I want to, because I have to, and some days I just want to curl up in a ball and cry about how much I’d love to have a day of saying ‘no’. But I don’t even know if that would help me. Weeks and weeks – maybe. But I think I would seriously get so bored and frustrated by my lack of contribution that I’d slowly lose my mind. And I have to remind myself that I am damn lucky that I can continue to say ‘yes’ even when it kicks my ass.
Thanks for this post, it’s totally true. We need to step outside of our comfort zone sometimes, open our eyes up to see all we really have, even when at first it seems like nothing. You said it perfectly :)
Although, I gotta say, what do you have against Ensure? Without that and Boost, jaw surgery would have kicked my butt :) trust me, an Ensure is a heck of a lot better than blended macaroni :P
Blended macaroni sounds delicious.
It is, to an extent. Trust me. 8 weeks on that stuff only gets you so far ;)
Once again, I feel like you take my thoughts exactly and put them on your page. Going from being able to say ‘yes’ to everything and loving the exhaustion to the sudden ‘no’ to the simplest things like taking a shower, brushing my hair, etc. because of the exhaustion — At some point your mind starts to fight back and you feel like you have to say ‘YES’ to show that you still feel even the tiniest bit in control of your life again. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading. Yes yes yes!
So very true. Some days you really do just have to make the effort to do something, anything, that isn’t nothing! In my case I am still working part time, but I have to really make an effort to do things outside of work, when most of the time all I have the energy left for is playing on my computer or reading.
Keep working on doing little things to enjoy life :) It’s important
I will and you do the same. The most helpful reminder to me is my dog :)
Mary, thank you once again for making ME feel like I’m not alone in this world! Your blog is awesome!
Thanks for reading and for the feedback. You’re not alone!