Once the morning passes into afternoon, I begin to panic. It’s just a little swell that starts as a flutter and as the half-hours pass, it progresses to a full blown pounding. All the things I haven’t done yet scroll through my mind, and the ever-increasing speed of the spin threatens to topple me from my shaky perch of dailiness. Is it because I don’t work at a paying job? Is it because I’m lazy? No, the anxiety rises up because I refuse to believe that I can’t do everything I want to do in a day. I’m more than old enough to know that doing everything isn’t possible, and yet, I won’t budge from believing it. My husband has said that my stubbornness in things like this is what keeps me going, but I’m not so sure it’s working to my advantage anymore.
When life shrouded me with multiple sclerosis, some things did not change. I still want to have fun, keep a clean house, make many different things, read a lot, write some, see new places, help others, love joyfully and laugh loudly. (The list is in random order, although having a clean house was at the top of the list before I added fun, and that is a sad truth that came out without the telling.) But what MS did change was my ability to focus on a task and complete it. Certainly I could never be accused of being a strong finisher of the many projects I started even before MS, but now, I am often afraid to begin anything new. The fear comes from a place I’m trying to uncover: fatigue lies there, of course, and mental cloudiness at times, but is there something else? I’d like it to reveal itself so I can take it on.
There is such empowerment that comes with a completed task, or with a personal victory of some sort. Perhaps it’s taking a solo travel excursion or doing the week’s grocery shopping alone. It could be completing the physical therapy exercises I know I should do, cooking a meal instead of having take-out, or having a heartfelt conversation that is clear, and remembered. The empowerment of these completions is like energy that feeds the furnace of beginning another. I don’t know how it works exactly, but I have felt it.
So, what happens when the things aren’t done and the furnace never gets stoked? When the day turns to darkness and you fear looking back because all you can see are the things left undone? And, worse still, your laughter wasn’t loud and your love was anything but joyful? For me, it is exactly when I admit that MS has thrown a bucket on my fire, and I begin the work of rekindling the embers. Again.