forward motion is harder than it sounds

At various junctures in my life — like when my husband was in the hospital and I commuted three hours every day to see him before I headed into work or when people learn of my chronic, incurable disease — what drives me to keep going, to get up every day and keep moving, even against terrible odds.

Well, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really understand the question. It seems simple enough, sure, but I have a problem with the underlying assumption — that there is a choice involved in soldiering on. If there is, I don’t see it. If the choice — or “choice,” in my opinion — is between bravely marching on and giving up or abandoning someone you love, that’s really no choice at all.

For me, it’s a simple question of doing what I have to do. That doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. Some days (or weeks, if I’m honest) it’s harder to maintain forward motion, to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, I’d rather just stay put, feet stubbornly planted like a mule’s. But that never last long. I would rather push forward, moving toward a sometimes ill-defined, murky goal (be it remission, even a temporary respite from pain and sorrow or something else entirely) than wallow.

So, I guess what keeps me going is some combination of hope and duty. Hope for myself and those I love, that maybe the next day or the next week or the next year will be better, and duty because there are some things I feel obligated to do: I have a duty to those who try to keep me well — doctors and nurses and pharmacists — to at least try what I’ve agreed to try; I have a duty to my husband and my family to do what I can to make myself feel better; I am obligated to come into work, to do the job I was hired to do, so I can get paid to afford those doctors and nurses and drugs.

So, what keeps me going? Drive, maybe, or perhaps the refusal to say, ‘Uncle!’, to let something get the best of me if I can prevent it.

There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control. — Leo F. Buscaglia

(Image via We Heart It.)


5 thoughts on “forward motion is harder than it sounds

  1. I understand what you’re saying with this post. I’m not working right now, but when I was, and when I was having nasty rheuma flares frequently, just stopping wasn’t an option for me, either. Working was necessary and I couldn’t afford to lose my job. Plus, I loved it (I was a reporter and editor, too!) and doing it kept me distracted from my pain. Sure, I’d get frustrated. And there were days when the pain was disabling enough that I had to take the day off and deal with it at home. Family, work, play, responsibility — none of that stops because we hurt. And as human beings, we are much stronger than we think we are.

    I hope your meds and your persistence in fighting your PsA will bring you soon to a more comfortable place. Here’s a ray of hope for you: I experienced a remission of my RA that lasted for approximately six years (I’ve had it for about 22 years, now). It was great. Why did it happen? You’ve got me, but it did.

    Love your blog. Been lurking, lately. Keep smiling and feel well. I’m convinced that attitude makes a huge difference with these diseases.

    • Hey Wren:

      The hope of remission is sometimes all that keeps me going, at least on my darker days. I love how you put it: Nothing stops just because we hurt. And I’m definitely with you: Attitude can make all the difference in the world with this stuff!

  2. I completely understand. Growing up my mom used to tell us that we do what we have to do to get by: chronic illness will most certainly drive that point home. Take good care of yourself! Amanda

  3. I totally get that. You do what you gotta do whatever it takes. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for putting into words feelings that are not always fully understood.

  4. Thanks for sharing what keeps you going everyday. We all have to find something to within ourselves, that “internal force” that keeps us strong. And it sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job!

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