The shadow edge

I was in the process of applying to medical school when it started to become obvious that I was sick. I chose not to complete the application process out of fear that I would be accepted and too sick to attend. I ultimately got much worse and would definitely have been too sick for medical school. As it turned out, I was sick for several years. And in the last couple of years, I have been too sick to do much of anything.

I am 31 years old. I finished school almost eight years ago. I have been sick for that entire duration. Somehow in my mind, being sick is recent, a brief interruption to my normal state. Eight years is not brief. I have now been sick longer than it took me to complete my undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In the middle of those years is the time when most people transition from one stage of life to the next. It is the time when you take fun vacations, go to parties, focus on your career, meet your significant other, marry. They achieve their earlier goals and move onto the next ones. They grow up, calm down and settle down.

I was sick for those years and never really made that transition. There is still a riot, loud and unyielding, in my heart.

I have dreams for 31, but I also had dreams for 25 and 28. When do you have to let them go? At what point do you not have enough time?

In some ways, it is easier when all of your dreams are washed away at once. It is harder to choose which dreams to lose. It is hard to accept that those years weren’t lost, but that they prevented me from achieving these things that are so important. Those years may prevent me from ever achieving some of them.

I feel a lot better these days than I have in a couple of years.  But now that I feel more functional, I find myself constantly taking inventory of life, of the things I never did and the things I might still be able to do, if I start right now.  It is overwhelming sometimes.  It feels like the shadow edge of hope.

I knew I would one day run out of time to do everything, that eventually pushing things into the future would mean they fell over the edge and disappeared forever. It just happened sooner than I thought.

9 Responses

  1. Kelly July 31, 2015 / 12:15 am

    What glorious, beautiful and authentic writing. As I read a slideshow of faces passes through my mind and the dreams lost multiply. It is so easy to stop there, where depression begins. But, you see a shadows edge, hope that opens new doors and turns our focus away from what might have been and what is becoming. My friend, you amaze and inspire me.

  2. Jenn July 31, 2015 / 12:26 am

    This one really struck a cord with me. I didn’t realize you were my exact (almost age I turn 31 in Nov) and that you had been sick for the exact duration I have been sick. You’re a little further along in your healing process than I but I too, have such thoughts about these things. I feel in many ways we are so much more emotionally mature than most people but I also feel that I am still stuck at 23. It’s not easy watching the people you grew up with go through all the stages, the trips, medical school (many of my friends too went on to become drs), residencies, first houses, marriages, first then second then even third children. Sometimes I feel like I’m so behind the game and had a bit of a Rip Van Winkle moment and woke up in another body in another time. It’s difficult losing so many years and mourning them is definitely a process, a human process that we need to allow ourselves. However, when I think about where I “should be” and what I “should be” doing in this stage of life, I don’t think that I want to let society pressure me into swallowing these shoulds. It’s our life and why so many rules? Just because we are supposed to be an adult working a 9-5 enjoying happy hour (virgin in our case) with our friends and finding “the one”, doesn’t mean we have to. If we want to travel, be ridiculous, dance in the wind, why the heck not!? Sometimes we forget there are so many ways to live and that being true to our own desires is what will have made all this heartache worth it; in turn, our formerly pressurizing loved ones with smile with us. I hope you find your bearings soon but remember “Without the dark we’d never see the stars”.

  3. Sheena Larose July 31, 2015 / 3:44 am

    I had to recently had to give up my dream job working in community mental health due to being exposed to multiple unhealthy triggers which is par for the course working in community mental health. I bid on a stationary office job which is the exact opposite of my personality but I have become a liability to my organization due to the unpredictability of my symptoms. My condition is not as advanced as yours (yet?) but I feel you when life choices have to be made around your illness not around your dream. Big hugs, Lisa (((hugs))).

  4. [email protected] July 31, 2015 / 6:46 am

    When you let go you Will find the dreams of your life.

  5. Kristin Elam July 31, 2015 / 8:56 am

    Consider your time healing and helping all of us as a major accomplishment. Life doesn’t always unfold in line with our expectations and our goals aren’t always achieved the way we envision them. However, there is a true beauty in the authenticity in which you live your life and express yourself. This is a place of enlightenment that people strive their entire live to be and spend thousands of dollars to achieve. Maybe you were born with this gift, or maybe the illness unfold little gifts like this to those strong enough to accept them. I am 42 and started my master’s degree late in life and had to quit my job and school to deal with this illness and struggle with being a financial and physical burden to my family some days. But, those edges of hope, as scary as they feel, are reminders that the future holds unknowns and we have to continue to push, fight, and explore the boundaries we impose on ourselves. Thank you for being here and being you. Your potential is limitless and your experience will only make your accomplishments that more meaningful. Love and gratitude.

  6. Angelina July 31, 2015 / 10:48 am

    Lisa, if there is something you really want to do…don’t look back, just do it. I am 53 now going on 54. I always wanted to go to medical school. I got sick, I didn’t go. I started Grad School instead in Immunology. I worked in HIV in the very early years. I ended up HIV positive and was too sick to complete my degree. I finally felt well enough for long enough and decides to try med school again, now at the ripe age of 48. I got in, I did well and then again I got sick. I took a leave. Just when I was starting back I found out I had breast cancer and delayed yet another year while I finish treatment. Screw it…I don’t care when I finish med school I am just going to keep doing it. I don’t want to have any regrets.

    • Theresa July 31, 2015 / 6:56 pm

      You are an inspiration to me. I look at myself at 32 and think of the things I have missed out on that I would like to do. You show everyone that age doesn’t matter, we should just keep pushing. Thank you.

  7. Mukti August 7, 2015 / 4:19 pm

    Lisa , like you i have been sick a long time and just managed to do the best with my life that i was able.
    I really love your writing so authentic, so deep, i feel a deep resonance with it. Lots of Love and Light

    • Lisa Klimas August 7, 2015 / 6:49 pm

      Thank you, I appreciate that. Be well and if you can’t, be happy.

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