This week I have fought vertigo. As difficult, and as challenging as this illness can be, I am finding choosing my attitude is very empowering.
I have had these inner ear problems since my first husband died. I can go on about that, as I have needed to do in the past. The fact is that I still have it, and I am doing something about it. I may not be able to make it go away completely ever. Even so, I have learned what fights it, what makes it better.
Fighting vertigo means to me, resting when I need to rest, so taking a nap is fighting vertigo. Doing the exercises I learned in physical therapy is fighting the symptoms.
Every day now, rather than saying that I have vertigo in a defeated voice that marks its arrival, I have changed how I frame this experience. “I am fighting it today a little more than yesterday”, I will tell my husband. I feel proud of that.
This experience has caused me to think about how we respond to many struggles in our lives. I think so often it’s when we can just say that something stinks and find a way to face it, an action, a simple shift in our thinking, can lift our spirits.
When we cry, it’s a release. Tears can be healing. Yet, we fear what is wrong with ourselves when they come. People have even asked me if the reason I seem to have been able to move on with my life after loss is that I just decided to stop “feeling sorry for myself one day.” Boy, if only it had been that easy. Moving on meant choosing a time daily to weep, pray, and reflect. It meant crying was a part of my schedule, for a very long time. I enjoyed life too so very much. That’s what I find amazing now. I think it’s the great kid I had that woke me daily. She never seemed to let anything stand in the way of her fun. I joined in quickly. The tears and the grief work in my own time, helped me be present in life every day in a very real way.
I think this week I have learned a valuable lesson. It’s not weakness to struggle, it’s living. It’s a sign we are not giving up. It’s a sign we are a fighter. So, if you see me and I’m dizzy, or physically tired from the therapy, I’m not truly weak. I’m fighting, because I am a fighter. I don’t give up. Ever.
I can think today of many fighters I know of different struggles. I often question how they do it to myself. Or, I want to fix it for them. The main thing I hope is that my choices my way of being helps give these special people the comfort of knowing that bad stuff happens to all of us, and they too, they too are people for whom I cheer nightly in my prayers and in my hopes that they too will not give up.
Shelley Collins Griffin