I sat in the waiting room for a good half hour before the technician finally called me back. When we got into the lab room, he asked for my birthdate. I nonchalantly responded to the redundant question and then went on to tell him I'd need to lie down for the procedure. He scoffed at me. "And why is that?"
"Small veins," I said pointing to my arms. "I tend to pass out. And puke." I giggled a little bit. What a way to introduce yourself, right? Welcome to life with chronic illness! He rolled his eyes. "I'm not sure if that can be arranged...you'll have to let me check."
A few minutes later, the young man came trodding back into the room. "Follow me," he muttered, "this way." We entered a small exam room and he pointed to a gurney. "There ya go."
"Thank you," I responded, "I don't want to make your day any messier than necessary!" I lightly laughed again. He stared at me...emotionless. Within the next half hour, he poked me six times until he was finally able to locate a vein. Around the third poke in, he became incredibly apologetic. "I'm so sorry..." he said, "this never happens."
When he was finished, he cleaned up his things, opened the door, and told me I could go whenever I was ready. He apologized again for the trouble he had and thanked me for informing him of my need to lie down. I drank a glass of water and headed out the door into the June sunshine.
I wasn't my sensitive self that day. Maybe it was the fact that I was having yet another blood draw just days after I'd had my last or maybe it was the fact that my new reality/normal with chronic illness hadn't quite taken such a toll yet. Whatever the reason, the grace of God allowed my interactions with this lab technician to begin teaching me a lesson that I am still working to refine and apply in my life today.
I may have had the right to be, but I was not the patient who 'lost it' that day. I didn't shed a tear, freak out at him, demand another technician, or even cuss him out in my head. Instead, something so powerful -- something much more powerful than the typical, impulsive reactions that I would usually have -- something that I cannot put into words -- reminded me that we all have days. Days that appear to be much more than we can handle. Days that feel nothing but arduous and troublesome. Days when we treat those around us poorly because of our rapidly changing mood(s) and circumstances. But I also know (or have learned, I should say) that it is always a matter of CHOICE. Your mood. Your actions. Your words. No occurrence, situation, or bad day can ever take that choice away from you.
Last Wednesday, I found myself wide awake around 6am. As I was lying in bed my mind thought back to this summer memory from nearly 3 years ago. Almost instantly, I realized that my flashback wasn't random or coincidental. To keep it short and real...I realized just how I have failed to make my choice lately...at how I have failed at being a friend. I have not been supportive, I have internalized far too much, and I have shut people out without anyones best interest in mind.
I have failed.
And while I've been failing in this regard due in part to my mental health, that does not mean that the choice has been taken from me entirely. I understand now that fighting for my choice and fighting for my happiness are things that fall under the category of my responsibility even when (and especially because) my current mental state resides where it's at. Blaming circumstances or people makes that choice impossible...and there are so many of those choices to make in order to make this life beautiful.
Loving people is a choice. Even further, it's a sacrifice. Letting people in is a choice...and it's one of the hardest to make/stand behind, at that. It's a process. Forgiving wrong that's been done to you is a choice. A choice that must be made time and time again. Indeed, there will be always be circumstances that make these choices difficult, but only we can decide that it's worth it to make them...and oh, how I have seen how worth it they are.
A special "thank you" to my roommates, (especially Carrie and Paige) who have loved me deeply and well though I have failed over and over again lately. I am so undeserving of such grace-filled friendships, but am forever grateful for your choice(s) to love.