I grew up learning that my life had a purpose and if I was fortunate, my purpose would be found by following my passion. If I was lucky, my passion would fuel in me a good work ethic, a satisfying career choice, a career doing what I love so I’d do it well. This would radiate throughout the people I loved and I’d be a good wife, mother, friend, servant to others. Sounds simple when you’re 20 years old.
It didn’t quite go that way but, for the most part, for the first 40 years of my life I had plenty of purposes to pick from.
I kept busy pursuing anything and everything that sparked my interests and I felt I could do. From my early years of piano recitals, to training & showing horses, working in the film industry, working in the judicial system as a court specialist. When the World Wide Web began, I jumped in and learned html coding and started my own web design business. I had…. PURPOSE. I exist to do this or that. To do it well, to raise my daughter to follow her passions.
Oh all the, “Susie, you’re such a go getter!” or “Susie, you’re so good at what you do! You’re an inspiration to us” although embarassing to my humble core, it made me feel, well, purposeful.
You would have thought I had a publicist by the articles written about my latest pursuits in the equine industry or the requests for interviews. Yay me!
I worked hard, not for money, but to be able to tell myself I can do this or that by hard work, just like my parents did. The reward? There were a couple of passions I just happen to be good at and it clicked. I made my parents proud, my family comfortable and myself fulfilled.
Then, in my 42nd year of life, while minding my own business, I became quite tired. Not just tuckered out….rather, I was exhausted. I didn’t feel so great. It didn’t go away. I couldn’t follow through with anything. My physical strength was gone, POOF! To make this long story shorter, I’ll get to it. I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE. It came on strong.
I went from go getter, busy, on the run to bedridden, confused, scared, and most of all, angry. I had to stop training horses, stop designing web sites, stop working due to the seriousness of my symptoms.
Since this diagnoses, I’ve struggled to find my purpose. Why am I here? What do I have to offer anyone or anything? Lupus affects your organs, brain, body in ways that every time you decide to head a certain direction with your life on a “good day” your met with a big yellow sign saying “Do Not Enter” because something Lupus comes up with will make it impossible for you to do.
I can’t tell you how many little ideas I’ve come up with from making jewelry to starting a support group. Believe me, I’m not a quitter but I DO know when it’s time to be realistic with myself & say, this just isn’t going to work. So quit beating yourself up.
I made the mistake of pushing through symptoms in order to please others and go do something with them. I’d smile & say, sure I’ll do it I know I can! I’ll know when to take it easy. But I’d end up very sick in bed for days after because I chose to participate in something so I’d feel somewhat normal and I’d please someone who knew I had Lupus but felt if I really put my mind to it, I could beat it. Heck, look at my life before! I got STUFF DONE!
So where does all this leave me today? Now?
Well I refuse to believe I’m just suppose to lay here in pain and brain fog until a meteor hits earth. Or any number of the mountains I live near erupts.
Maybe I shouldn’t be struggling for a purpose and instead be flowing with this new me and working instead on my attitude of gratitude.
I’m alive to see & hear beautiful things. I’m near two beautiful, funny & loving grandsons who think I’m just the best “Gram” ever because I watch cartoons with them.
Maybe now my purpose is, I exist to be able to slow down enough to enjoy my family, my grandkids and just be there for them. To just slow down & recognize what is and isn’t important. It’s working quite well so far with this “aging process” thing. I mean, my complaints aren’t that far off from those of someone my age. Like “oh my aching back.”
But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to deal with the intense pain, the worry of what’s next, the loneliness of isolation and the fear. Lupus SLE is scary, it’s cruel. So I’ll stop struggling for a purpose and instead take a deep breath and live this life the best I’m able to with the gifts I still have. No more interviews. But that’s a good thing.