April 16, 2014

They Aren't Bad People, They Just Aren't The Right People

Way back in October, I wrote a post about learning to let go. It was a post about situations, habits, and (primarily) a person in my life whom I loved dearly, but could no longer identify with. After writing that post, things began to drastically change in my life. The relationships I made a priority began to flourish. The relationships I let go of began to work themselves out. I felt balanced... And even free in a sense. I felt lighter. For awhile, anyway.

This past week in church, I realized I no longer feel that way. I don't feel free. I don't feel balanced. In fact, lately, I feel as if I've been struggling the hardest with letting things - of any kind -  go... And because of that, it's become quite the pretentious challenge to move forward in any way at all.

So, I prayed about it.

See, while I'm the girl who wrote that post about letting go of certain individuals, I'm also the girl who wrote that post about loving unconditionally. While I'm the girl who wants to understand that letting go is part of moving forward, I'm also the girl who just can't stand to let people walk away. Personally, I think that's because even when relationships don't work out, even when friendships fade, I truly want to be someone that other people value their time with. I want them to speak kindly of me. I want them to be able to say, "she made me a better person; the time I spent with her was worth it."

Don't we all, though?

At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that no matter what we want, there are situations, people, and reactions out of our control. There are people that we need to let go of in order to move forward.

Now, I don't believe in labeling people "toxic" because these so-called "toxic" people are rarely vengeful or inhumane. In fact, some of the most "toxic" people in our lives are the ones who love us the most. Many of them, contrary to popular belief, have good intentions. Most of these people are only considered "toxic" because their needs and way of existing in the world cause us to compromise ourselves, our values, and our happiness. They aren't imminently bad people, they just aren't the right people. We aren't for them and they aren't for us. As challenging as it is, we have to let them go. Life is hard enough without surrounding yourself with people who don't make you a better you. As much as you care, it is never worth eradicating yourself for the sake of someone else.

That might mean that you have to love a family member from a distance. It might mean that you have to break up with the person you love and respect the most. It might even mean that you need to avoid a painful situation until you're in the right state of mind to handle it properly. Whatever that might mean for us, we need to make sure to remember that our well-being is a priority and no one is going to make it that way unless we do ourselves.

When I realized this and actually started to believe it, I felt lighter again. I felt free, balanced, and a lot more like myself. The me that I want to be, anyway.

I want to lay down at night and have my head hit the pillow knowing that the people in my life are making the me I am today a better me tomorrow. I want to close my eyes and rest in the assurance that my well-being is a priority. That I am valued. That I am worthy. I want to wake up in the morning and be the spunky Kenz, the confident Kenz, the carefree Kenz, and the Kenz that knows she is surrounded and supported by people who cherish her for everything that she is - imperfections and all.

In fact, today, I not only want that. I refuse to accept anything less than that.

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April 09, 2014

This Is My Reality

It was late, I was exhausted, and I had just clicked the play button on my worship playlist. I grabbed my nighttime meds off the end table, took a sip of water, and swallowed the tiny pills just like I had a million nights prior. I reached over to turn off my lamp just as my phone lit up. After I was all nestled into bed, I grabbed my phone and opened the text message:

"I thought I could understand but I cant. Your health stuff is too much drama"

Let's backtrack for a moment here. Prior to receiving the text message that has become the premise of this blog post, I'd been having a conversation with my ex-boyfriend about the reasoning he had behind our break-up. Initially, he had lots of reasons, of course... None that truly mattered to or even hurt me, truthfully. Until he added the one I have no control over. Until, of course, he added the one that I already struggle with every. single. second. of every. single. day.

I'll be the first to admit... My first reaction? Laughter. Oh, did I laugh. I said to myself, "Okay, Kenz, he just doesn't get it. This has nothing to do with you." In fact, I was actually thinking logically for a few solid minutes... But then, suddenly, it stung.

In the midst of my little snickers, I started to fake laugh. Eventually, silent tears started rolling down my face. I dropped my iPhone on the floor, put my face into my pillow, and cried... Slowly, and then all at once, the sting I felt ebbed itself away and eased off. Through tear-filled eyes, I realized something.

This lifestyle I live...
These medications I take... 
The braces I wear... 
The limitations I face... 
The pain I feel... 
And the tears I cry because of it all... 

None of it is drama. Each of those things juxtaposed with one another create my reality.

My reality is waking up to a completely swollen hand, epicly celebrating a 1 mile run, and not being able to fall asleep at night because of the pain of a swollen shoulder.

My reality is passing out during lab work, getting excited over a new medication that might put this gruesome disease into remission, and not being able to hold my head up straight because of cortisone injections.

My reality is doing my weekly self-injection at 11 p.m. on a school night after a speech meet and homework, finding inspiration in advocating for autoimmune diseases any way I possibly can, and spending long days/nights in a hospital surrounded by specialists.

And, so, to my ex-boyfriend, this blog post is my response to your text message. The only person responsible for your misunderstanding is yourself. If you're looking for a solution, take responsibility for that misunderstanding instead of discounting the lasting and varied impact that struggle has. Ask questions. Be patient. Open your mind. Open your heart, for goodness sake. And stop diminishing the importance of the things you haven't experienced.

My reality may look different. It may appear a bit more demanding, pretentious, and at times, insanely complicated... But there's not a single chance that your misunderstanding gets to say my challenging reality is merely a synonym for drama. 

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March 19, 2014

I Am Not a Hazardous Weapon

I don't know how many of you who read these diminutive posts suffer from chronic illness, but I do know that there are a few.

To begin this post, I'd just like to say thank you to those few in particular. Thank you for being the reason why I want to share my struggles with chronic pain caused by autoimmune disease. You are the reason I don't settle for the semblance of labeling myself insane. The support system I've found through YOU, others who experience this pain, has become such an essential weapon in my fight against this disease. There is just no possible way I could do it alone.

Today, I want to talk about the way I've been feeling in a way that I never have before. I don't know if I'll be able to find the adequate words to describe it, but I know there's a significant part of me that feels someone, somewhere out there, feels this way too...

I feel like a grenade, I guess. A ticking time bomb. As the possibility of inflammation spreading to my organs, joint replacement surgeries, and medications that'll make me lose my hair creep their way into conversations with my doctors... This feeling grows. It multiplies until it becomes overbearing. Now, I sit here typing, bruised, battered, and swollen from injections this week feeling trapped. Cornered. Completely ambushed.

In the past 6 months, I have felt and watched myself withdrawing from people who have been nothing but supportive since the day of my diagnosis. I have watched myself say "no" to hanging out with my best friends and hit the snooze button ten times because I am actually unsure if I can make it through another day without breaking down. I have watched myself neglect digging into God's word, singing worship songs, and even praying. My attitude has become one that says "save it." Don't save me, save it. Save yourself the hurt, because this disease... This pain... It is going to be the death of me one day.

I guess I feel wounded. Like I'm truly some sort of bomb waiting to explode. I can't help but imagine that when that happens, everyone around me is going to be left hurting and picking up the pieces. Blaming themselves for the tragic flaws within myself; things that were never fixable... And that devastates me to no end. That makes me want to unexist, if that makes any sense at all. It makes me want to minimize the casualties, per say.

I'm not depressed. I'm not suicidal. I just don't want to hurt people anymore. I want to lay in bed, listen to music, and read books. Occasionally, I want to go for a nice, long run. I want to spend time with my family; the people who are far too invested in me to avoid being hurt now. I want to pray and know that God will accept me into Heaven when the time comes. I don't want to be normal. I can't be normal when I feel like I'm some sort of hazardous weapon.

Truthfully, I know that no one else sees me this way. I know my friends would do anything at any hour of the day to make sure I'm comfortable. I know my team of specialists will do whatever they can to keep me comfortable. I know my teachers will sit and listen to me cry for a solid two hours afterschool if I need it. I know my family tries their hardest to understand the way I feel. I know all of that. But I don't feel it, I guess.

What I feel is as if there are constantly waves are washing over me and I'm left breathing... Miraculously. Somehow. All the while, I'm watching everyone else go in and out of the water. They can walk. It almost appears as if they have received a choice while my feet are stuck in the submerged sand and the waves continue to rise and fall all around me.

I don't know when I started feeling this way, exactly. And I know it's a season that will pass. An insecurity the devil is feeding off of. My pain levels have been quite elevated and that always has a lot to do with my desire to step back from things. I'm trying so formidably to focus on the big picture. Thankfully, God gave me some vivid, definite hope last night when He spoke to me through a friend and said, "When you are suffering, child, you are so much closer to Me on the cross."

That reassurance is all I needed. I'm not some character in a book who suffers from a tragic flaw. I am not an unlovable or complicated teenage girl who comes with too much baggage. I am not a death sentence or someone who unpretentiously inflicts pain. I am not a hazardous weapon. I am a work of Christ, a work in progress, and He is far from finished with me yet.

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March 05, 2014

I'm Glad It Hurts

Lately, I feel like life has been painful. I've been fearful.

My arthritis flares. My injection to control those flares stings. People change. People lie. People walk away. I fail. I sin. I have a bad attitude. I pretend not to care. But, I do. Oh, I care so much.

All the while, I sit there and say, "This sucks. I'm scared. Life hurts." I'm ungrateful and ask God to make things better. To fix it. To magically make me happy again. I forget that times heals everything... And that time takes time. I forget to search for the purpose despite the pain and fear.

So, my injection hurts. But, it helps alleviate the pain for another week.
So, my boyfriend broke up with me. But, he got me through the tough things I had to face the past 5 months.
So, I sinned and messed up my relationship with God. But, I learned, and His mercies are new every morning.
So, I don't know what tomorrow holds. But, I know who holds tomorrow.

Notice how every. single. one. of those "pains" serves a purpose.

Similarly, for as long as I can remember I've been telling myself, "Don't be afraid." Yesterday, I realized how silly that is. "Don't be afraid" is just like saying "don't move out of the way when a car is coming" or "don't blink" or "don't be human." Realistically, I'm afraid. You're afraid. We're all afraid and we're always going to be because that's the point. When we are afraid, we run to Him. When we run to Him, our faith is strengthened.

While I was praying last night, I realized my mindset is so, so wrong when it comes to pain and fear. Yes, life can hurt, it can be scary, but it doesn't suck. Here's why...

Pain is proof that you went for something. Proof that you let go of all your insecurities, fears, doubts... What have you... And made a freakin' beeline directly towards something you wanted at one point in time. It's proof that you've that you've loved, learned, and progressed. It's proof that you've lived. The fear we feel is NOT a bad thing if we allow it to motivate us rather than consume us. Be afraid, but do it anyway. Fight anyway.

I don't know about you, but I would take the pain of experience knowing that I LIVED over lingering upon the dreaded "what if...?" question any day. God doesn't allow pain without purpose. I'm living, and with every hurt, I'm drawing closer to Him. Because of that, as crazy as it sounds, I'm GLAD it hurts.

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