what is positivity, anyway?

[I apologize for my absence over the last few weeks and provide an excuse at the end of this post.]

 

Picture this: You run into a friend who is in the throes of cancer treatment. You strike up a conversation, ask how they are, and they respond, “Pretty good!” while smiling and asking you about your life. What’s your gut reaction? Mine might be admiration; I mean, after all, they’re just so positive!

Take the same person on a different day. You meet them for coffee and it’s clear that they’ve been crying. You ask what’s going on and, through tears, they confess that things are tough, that they’re tired of being sick, and they’re frustrated. You might not walk away from the conversation thinking that person was positive…at least I don’t think I would.

But is feeling and allowing yourself to experience the difficult things in life a sign that you’re not a positive person? Are you simply not being positive in that moment, but you overall are? Can you be reasonably upset and positive at the same time?

While admitted to the Chronic Pain Recovery Center at Silver Hill Hospital I learned that we can’t numb ourselves to physical pain without ignoring our emotions, as well. It makes sense that we can’t pick and choose what we’re going to feel [or not feel] and that it’s more of an all-or-nothing situation. When I stopped taking opioids all the feelings I cast aside for years started popping up, demanding I finally confront them. Sometimes that looks like me cracking up over dinner with friends, and other times it’s a panic attack in the middle of a wedding reception. Both feel like victories, though, and a sign that I’m continuing to get better, but I’m not sure that everyone views these circumstances in the same light.

My goal used to be to maintain positivity whenever possible, especially in public. Anything less felt like a failure. Letting my guard down in front of even a close friend or family member was a sign of weakness, and not letting people know the truth of how I was actually feeling was a victory. That’s not my goal anymore. I don’t want to harp on the tough stuff, but I’m done with burying it.

My new goal is to be genuine. I have no desire to be unpredictable and a victim to mood swings, but I think hope that as I accept feelings that arise I’ll eventually find my balance.

Positivity is overrated.

 


 

* I know, I’ve been quiet for a while. My dog, Celie, is nearing the end of her life. The last few weeks I’ve focused on her and soaked up all her wonderfulness, hating the idea of neglecting her while I pursued my own thing. For now, though, she is sleeping peacefully at my feet, so I seized the opportunity to write something down.

you know nothing, jon snow

 

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I recently had an appointment with a doctor who is known for thinking outside the box and getting to the root of an issue rather than simply addressing an individual’s symptoms. After I spoke with the nurse he came in – or rather, was visible on the screen, as this was a Skype appointment. One of the first questions he asked was if I drink Spring Water. Yes…all the time…constantly. “Your joints,” he explained, “are loaded with minerals. We need to pull them out of your body.”

I was kind of incredulous. First, okay this is easy and I am fully on board. Second, are you kidding me right now? I drink this water because I thought it was good for me, even though it’s a bit expensive and even inconvenient. Are you telling me that my actions are not only unhelpful but also damaging?

Healing is a humbling practice. You are constantly growing and evolving and learning and begin to get the I-think-I’ve-figured-this-out feeling, only to realize that you don’t. Well,  maybe that’s not entirely true. Perhaps what you were doing was exactly what your body required at that time, but no longer fits your needs. What may feel like hitting roadblocks might be no more than changes in direction.

Part of this [this = healing] is not viewing these shifts negatively, and actually anticipating them. As we change and our bodies change our needs have to adapt. Maybe today I need to sit at my kitchen table and write for hours, but maybe tomorrow I need to be outside in the sunshine surrounded by friends. The trick lies in finding that level of self-awareness that allows you to constantly gauge where you are and what your body, mind, and soul require. If anyone figures out how to do this, please let me know!

Until then, I’m going to try to find comfort in my ever-changing quest for healing, and not view anything I’ve done in pursuit of this goal as a failure…or as me knowing nothing.

 

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Meme courtesy of Buzzfeed.

oral hygiene and deep thoughts

I brush my teeth with an electric toothbrush. It runs for two minutes and every thirty seconds there is an obvious pause in its vibration to signal it’s time to move on to another area of your mouth. It’s supposed to help you clean your teeth equally instead of spending too much time on some and too little time on others. [Please bear with me; I promise this post is about more than the detailed workings of my toothbrush.]

Recently, however, I’ve been missing the not-so-subtle change in vibration. The toothbrush shuts off and I’m not done. The first time it happened I was brushing my teeth while making coffee; I assumed I missed one of the pauses because I was doing too much at once. After this happened several consecutive times, however, I grew slightly frustrated.

How am I not getting this? I wondered. Am I too focused on other factors that are causing me to miss more obvious signals? Am I trying to focus on so much that I am missing everything? Am I thinking that I’m being mindful when in actuality I’m oblivious? Have I made any progress at all???

Then it finally hit me. The battery in my toothbrush needed to be replaced. I couldn’t feel the change in vibration because it was practically non-existent.

I complicated this simple issue by reading way too deeply into it. As a result, I had an abundance of information, yet couldn’t reach a solution because I was incapable of separating what was useful from the clutter. I also created a narrative which caused me to doubt myself and the progress I’ve made, further derailing any potential for meaningful action. But, when I finally stood quietly in front my bathroom mirror while I brushed my teeth instead of simultaneously scrolling through my Instagram feed, I understood the situation and just how simple the solution was.

Does this add up, or am I stretching this “metaphor” beyond what it really is? Whatever, I don’t need your validation [except that I definitely do]!