Well, you know, you better free your mind instead

I’ve learned so much about myself over the past year or two, good and important things that I nonetheless could only learn at a great cost and often through suffering.

I finally left church and I am immensely relieved at having done so, although I still have a lot of residual self-blame and guilt over the fact that my husband left the church last fall as well.

I got really, really sick with my MS and realized that I had to stop fucking around and pretending I didn’t have it.

I finally admitted to myself that I hated staying at home and hated freelancing and that I would be much happier in an office job.

I finally stopped living a lie and suddenly things seem so much better.

Getting away from Christian religions I never really believed in felt like I was coming back to my true self.

Finally accepting the fact that I have MS means that I have to take better care of myself or else I will get sick and suffer more. I don’t always like to do the right things to care for myself and I don’t always do it well. But at least now I’m trying and I know what’s going on.

And now I have at last gone back to work and found a pretty much ideal job for me. My only complaint is that it might be too easy–but that will also help keep my stress low enough to reduce that risk factor for my illness.

(Who knew that the above symptom – called sensory overload – is part of MS? When I can avoid that overstimulation, it significantly reduces my pain and numbness and confusion.)

So through all of these sometimes difficult changes, along with the really tough changes our marriage went through a couple years ago, I’m starting to see the rewards.

Life is much more manageable. Even with MS, I have some control over how much pain I experience. (I’m just still not good enough at respecting my body’s limits and setting boundaries with people to protect my health yet.) The communication in my marriage is massively improved. And now I have a full-time job outside the home where I really believe things are going to be okay, even good.

So now I’m trying to look forward to the future and see what I’m going to do with this knowledge. I feel like maybe I have a book or two to write, somewhere inside me. My life has been pretty interesting, even in the ups and downs, and I think maybe I’ve learned some lessons and gained some wisdom that might be worth sharing.

But even if I never write a book, I’m just so relieved to finally feel okay with myself. It may have taken me a really long time (I mean, I’m 44 years old!) but I can look at my struggles and most painful memories and see good in them. I can see lessons I was supposed to learn from hard times. I have been shaped by pain.

And it’s good, just really good. I know myself better. I’m learning to like myself better. I’m making peace with people who have hurt me, especially my parents.

Things just seem like they’re falling into place. I had to go through the painful parts first and I think they were a necessary part of the process, but so far it really seems to have been worth it. I turned a corner and now everything seems like it’s getting better — and so much of that depended on my willingness to face the hard stuff. If you keep running away from difficulty, it never really goes away.

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