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The Rise From Rock Bottom
The nice thing about having a blog is that — if you actually update it regularly — it allows you to look back on the past and quite vividly remember what you were going through or how you were feeling on any given day.
I needed a brain break the other day, so I pulled up a post of mine from May 2013, almost exactly one year ago.
And, as I was reading it, I started to cry.
I don’t know what to make of that reaction. It surprised me. (I made myself cry — as if having a blog didn’t make me feel narcissistic enough to begin with. Yikes.)
I look back on where I was last year at this time, though, and it does break my heart a little bit. I was in so much physical pain and was in the midst of a major emotional struggle. I felt lost and alone and scared and, mostly, sad.
I had to abandon my much-anticipated trip to Hawaii and instead went home to New Hampshire because I was too sick to take care of myself and, well, I needed my mom.
I was, simply put, at rock bottom.
Fast forward one year.
Today, I don’t feel lost.
I don’t feel alone.
I’m not scared.
And, best of all, I am not sad.
It may have taken way too long, but I have finally, authentically returned to my “old self.”
There were times when I really thought “Happy Ali” was gone for good; that she had died with my immune system.
But eventually, I started to get better.
I don’t know if it was the methotrexate, or the study drug, or hell, even the placebo, if that’s what I got initially. Maybe it was a combination of all those things.
Or maybe it’s because I made some changes. I have a new job, and with that comes new responsibilities, new coworkers, a new location, a new commute and little things, like new lunch options.
Those little things add up to very big things.
I can hardly believe I’ve already been at my new job for one month.
More dramatically, I can’t believe how much has changed in the past month, on both the physical and emotional spectrums.
I do little things every day that used to be so monumental, like taking the subway. I don’t even think twice before getting on the subway before and after work now. I’m not scared of getting trapped underground without a bathroom anymore.
And I can do those yoga poses I avoided for so long because the twisting sent me straight to the bathroom. Now, when Bethany tells us to “flip our dog,” I’m flipping with the rest of the class instead of coming down to Child’s Pose or, ya know, bolting out of the room and making that mad dash for the bathroom.
I’m also able to travel!
Last year, Brian and I had so many weddings to attend, most of which were outside NYC and required a flight or a roadtrip somewhere. I so vividly remember driving up to Stowe, VT, to watch my friends Tom and Sarah get married. I was a complete wreck on that long drive. I hardly moved in my seat because I was so afraid of disrupting my very sensitive stomach, and I was on the constant lookout for roadside bathrooms. Pretty sure I had also stashed some rolls of toilet paper in the car “just in case.” Cute!
I spent the majority of Tom and Sarah’s awesome wedding reception in the bathroom. Always a top-notch wedding guest! I’m either stealing everyone’s cake while they’re on the dance floor, or I’m hogging all the bathroom stalls. There’s not much in between there.
But fast forward again, and I’m currently fresh out of the van from a trip to Vermont. Brian and I spent the long weekend up there for a bike race (well, he raced — I ran my cowbell with vigor and visited with a very special little someone).
I never thought twice about the drive up to Killington. I wasn’t worried about what I ate before we hit the road, I wasn’t on the prowl for rest stops and I certainly got comfortable with my feet up on the dashboard. (Sorry, mom — she never used to let me do that because “What if we get in an accident and the air bags go off? They’ll blow off your legs and you’ll never dance again.”) It was so fantastically stress-free.
Last year, Brian and I were supposed to “celebrate” our two-year anniversary together while we were on vacation in Hawaii. Buuuut he ended up taking that trip alone while I was sick and loathing in New Hampshire.
This year, we rung in three years together with a fabulous dinner and separate desserts (I do not share, except that I will always let my mom have a bite of my Blizzard if she wants).
I do big things every day, too.
Running is a very big thing to me right now. Running wasn’t part of my life for many months, and now it’s back in a big way.
I ran a little race…
…and I ran a bigger race…
…and two weekends ago, just because I finally could, I ran 15 miles.
I run a few days a week now, usually in the morning, and while my runs are rarely stop-free, I appreciate being out there and, frankly, I fucking love it. (I really do try not to swear on here, because my parents read this blog, and my mom hates it when I curse. The family rule is that I’m allowed to swear only to my dad, and only if I’m very very sick and sad about Crohn’s. I try to abide, but I sometimes slip. I can’t help it. I’m so enthusiastic.)
While most of my local runs are planned around bathrooms, just in case, I’ve branched out quite a bit lately, too. During this weekend’s Vermont excursion, I went for a few runs having no idea where I was. I just bopped around, hauling my husky legs up and over those massive Vermont “hills” (mountains) and practically skipping around the state. I was always aware of where a bathroom may or may not be, but it wasn’t an all-consuming mindset.
Is life perfect?
It never is.
But I’m floating around so high on Cloud 9 these days that I can’t even see rock bottom. I’m really digging this view.
Someday soon I will write a post that isn’t just reflective and sappy and overly grateful. Today’s just not that day.