I've been described in the past, and as recently as this past week, as an "up" person.
I think it's safe to say that each person has their own definition as what that means to them. To me, when I think about someone that is "up", I think about someone who is happy, outgoing, infectious, and contagious in their joyfulness.
Admittedly, that isn't me.
In truth, I try to be "up" when I am in the presence of others. I have done this my whole life. I may talk about the things that bother me, and I have always described myself as an open book. However, it seems without fail, I try to add a dash of humor to the situation at hand just before the tone of the conversation becomes too serious and the anxieties too close to the surface, leaving bystanders all too close to being in that uncomfortable position of not knowing what to say, or how to react.
People feel safe with humor...but tears are often very uncomfortable for them.
I don't like making people feel uncomfortable.
I have always spoke openly about my struggles, my worries, and my (sometimes debilitating) anxieties, but it is rare that you will ever see them first hand. I work very hard keeping them visibly out of sight, and kept in check.
I think that effort has started to catch up to me.
After Steven was first diagnosed I was unable to keep anything inside. I was a mess. I could not see ME making it through this journey. I felt guilty that I wasn't immediately rising to meet the challenge and showing my kids positivity and strength. But, even the guilt was not enough of a motivator to keep me "up".
Eventually, the initial shock wore off with the help of meds, and the constant stream of friends and family through the doors of his hospital room at Mercy. Those things motivated me to once again, rein in the worry, put on my public persona, and make this difficult time easier for them. I knew, if I were in their shoes, how much harder it would be to come in to see your friend that had been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease while his wife sobbed in the background.
They didn't need to see that and Steven didn't need to see that. I would have brought everybody down. Truthfully, it was probably a great motivator for me to keep it together and to push on.
When we were surprisingly kept in St. Louis at the beginning of October, the shock that had previously wore off was back in full force. The same fear reared it's ugly head and the timelines I had so strategically placed in my head were relevant no more. For four days I found myself "down"...very far down, and the complete opposite of "up".
After adjusting to the new normal that was St. Louis and finding hope wherever it chose to meet me, I was able to once again, find the part of me that was "up"...even if it was only in small doses.
There were times that the tears would threaten to come and I would force them back down. There were times that, when alone, I would let them fall. But for the most part, I kept them, and myself, in check.
During the past two and half months, the anxieties have never kept me from seeing the blessings that we have received. I have never, not even once, been blind to those.
I appreciate each and every one and am brought to my knees by the generosity of so very many.
However, even with the knowledge of the blessings, I sometimes still get the blues.
Even with the knowledge of the blessings, I still feel the weight of the situation.
Even with the knowledge of the blessings, I still want to cry and curl up in bed.
Even with the knowledge of the blessings, I sometimes want to throw a tantrum like a toddler until someone hears my screams and gives me my old life back.
Even with the knowledge of the blessings....sometimes it's really hard to be "up".
No one, not even those closest to you, really want to hear about your biggest fear, or to talk about the "what ifs". Sometimes they even scold you, believing you to be blind to all the good that surrounds you. But, deep down, I know that it isn't that they don't care, or they think I am taking all the goodness for granted, it's that they too, don't want to let their minds go to that place.
And so, at the end of the day, you fall into bed, exhausted from the effort of it all and thankful that you finally don't have to be "up".
(This is not written to garner sympathy. It is only because I wish to share what I have only recently began to understand. I, too, have told people "you are so strong" and have been blind to all the effort it has taken to give what sometimes is only an illusion of strength. Now, in the midst of my current situation, it seems so obvious that the "strength" that people show is often more for the benefit of others than it is to the benefit of them.)