Yes You Can
I am lying on my back on my neighbour’s lawn, his house casting a shadow that is shielding my exhausted body from the blazing heat of this gorgeous May sun.
Above me is blue. A vast blue sky, untainted, pristine, there is not a single cloud in sight. There are birds chirping, a bee buzzing, ants tickling my skin as they crawl over me (not loving that so much), sunshine warming my legs while the shade cools my overheated scalp, and the gentlest of breezes kissing my skin every now and then.
A bird flies over me. I silently thank him or her for not emptying its bowels on me (I’ve had that happen too many times!). I close my eyes for a moment. The moment my lids make contact with each other, I feel them burn with fatigue.
I am exhausted. It’s a challenge just making my thumbs dance over this screen so that my thoughts are recorded. My gas tank is as dry as a desert (I slowly wonder how I’m going to feed myself later on because everything in my kitchen requires cooking) and I cannot conceive how I am going to move from this spot.
But it’s okay. It’s more than okay. I have nowhere to be. I have no one to meet. It dawns on me...this is exactly why I moved here. Away from every single person I know. If my body says “rest”, I can rest. If that means lying here for hours until I find the willpower to push myself up and shuffle inside, I can do that. I am beholden to no one in this moment and damn, does that feel good. I am liberated here in a way I could never be back in the city.
In this moment, I observe that I do not feel elated or happy. Since the onset of my period, my mood has been suppressed. It’s like positive emotions that vibrate at a higher frequency are currently out of my range of possible experience. My feelings seem to be on hiatus...but this is what I think:
I am satisfied. I am content. I am grateful to lie here and experience this moment with my senses. I have earned this rest. I have worked harder than someone in my current health state with this debilitating chronic disease “should”. I think about the people (who I no longer consider to be family) who shamed me and admonished me for attempting to do anything other than lying in bed and working on my health and feel like the choices I made today stand in defiance to their ignorant words (because FYI, every moment of the last 5.5 years has been spent working on my health).
Yes, there are many times when I should not be doing anything. There are times when I cannot do anything. And there are times when I should do less. Today I probably could have done less to preserve some energy, but no one has the right to dictate that I am not free to try to do anything. That choice is mine and mine alone. I am willing to suffer the consequences when I make decisions that I know will affect my health and what most people don’t understand is that every move I make is a calculated one. And today, I wanted to make a move. I wanted to exert my authority over my own life and choose to participate in a project for my home.
I look down from the sky and my eyes settle on a wooden gate. My new wooden gate. Built by my neighbour, painted and drilled onto its posts by me. Me!!!
I did that. This new fixture of my new home - I contributed to its existence and that is beyond satisfying to me. There have been many long periods of time when this contribution on my part would not have been possible. It’s fairly impossible to do anything when you’re completely incapacitated by symptoms and bedridden and that extreme level of dependency has been one of the hardest facets of chronic illness for me to cope with.
Today though, I tasted a teaspoon of independence. I could have remained lying down inside and I know my neighbour would have been happy to complete this project for me on his own but I wanted to play a part. It means something to me to be able to look at my new home and see where I have had an impact on improving it. My limbs may have shaken with weakness and fatigue but I still felt strong. My mind and my incredible willpower fortified my muscles and I got the job done.
And this is the part that I will forever be grateful for:
When my neighbour explained what the next steps would be for installing the gate, I exclaimed “I can do that!”
And it was the most refreshing breath of air when he replied, “Yes, you can”.