The Gift of Challenge

The Gift of Challenge

The Gift of Challenge

I can’t seem to shed the veil of lethargy that encases my body in its mummy-like wrappings. I am on Spring Break, spending a week enjoying our home- such a gift of time- and yet I feel as if I am sinking into a dark place. My anxiety level has ramped up, and a myriad of worries swirl around my mind constantly. The very loud ringing and strange sensations in my ears, along with sound-induced pain, are constant reminders that something is wrong. Most of all, I feel off, not myself. Something is different inside of me. My usual sunny outlook is on vacation, too, I suppose, but I know it will return.

I wake up in the middle of the night from a vivid nightmare, feeling the anxiety overwhelm me. Ever since my intense experience with claustrophobia in the MRI machine last Tuesday, I have had ripples of panic attacks, and lots of nightmares about suffocating. It seems the Tube of Hell was a trigger that released the demons. My usual calming methods don’t seem to help, and even yoga fails to quiet my mind. Only writing seems to bring some ease, as if writing down my fears robs them of their power.

Tomorrow morning, I have another hearing test to see if there have been any changes. I feel like there have been, and not in a good way. I will also meet with the audiologist to go over the results of the MRI and discuss a plan of attack to deal with my ears. I am doing my absolute best to project positive thoughts that there is a simple problem with a simple solution, that my hearing loss is reversible, that my life as a musician will return to normal (or at least that I can successfully adjust), and that doing what I love most in the world will stop being painful to me. I admit it, though- I am human…I am scared, overwhelmed at times.

I am also grateful. There has been such an outpouring of love and support enveloping me throughout all of this. Even if I have to face a major challenge, I can deal with it thanks to the love of my husband and my friends. My husband has gone out of his way to encourage me to rest during this break and not try to do my usual work on the house and yard from sunrise to sunset. He is making special meals, planning romantic dates, making me laugh at every opportunity, and, above all, filling me with encouragement, “Everything will be okay, Honey, just wait and see.” I know without a doubt that he will stand by me no matter what the outcome. I am so blessed.

Times like this bring moments of clarity, helping me to really understand what is important to me, what I value most. It causes me to move inward, to find the strength that I know is there, even when I have moments of weakness. Life puts these obstacles there for us to turn into opportunities for growth, and I welcome that. I never want to stop learning, growing, being flexible. Giving up on those things means giving up on life, and life is too precious to ever give up on.

This morning I went grocery shopping for Mom and took the cookies I had baked for her to give to her friends. I changed her sheets, took out her trash, washed her dishes, and gathered up her laundry. The comfort of routine, of focusing on caring for someone else was soothing. Mom wasn’t feeling well today, but I finally got her to drink some water and eat some of her lunch. I put on my best face and tried to cheer her up. I still haven’t told her about what I am going through, as there is no need for her to worry about me.

I spent the afternoon cleaning out my gardens for Spring, listening to the birds sing joyfully. The dogs seemed to sense my mood, coming up
to lean against me or lick my cheek as I worked. I visualized that each weed I pulled, each dead branch, was a worry that I was letting go of. In its place I saw renewal and beauty. There has always been something therapeutic about yard work to me. Digging in the soil, tending the plants, becomes a meditative ritual.

As I sit on the top deck at sunset with Dan and the dogs, I reflect on my gratitude to be here with this man in our home filled with love. I am thankful for this experience, no matter what happens. I will get through this, as I have other challenges I have faced. There is no good or bad, really, in life- there just is. Everything happens for a reason, to teach us. I am an avid student, ready for the lesson.

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