2018 has been a great year for me, though it has not been without some challenges. Two of these challenges have been rather pesky health issues. (“Rather pesky.” LOL, can you tell I’ve been watching The Crown on Netflix?)
Health Issue #1
If you follow me on Instagram, have eaten with me at a restaurant, or have been in my presence after a few cocktails**, then you know that I was #blessed enough to be born without an adult tooth in my jaw, wait for it…RIGHT next to my big tooth. Rather than live my life as a toothless gal, I’ve chosen to get an implant. The implant was supposed to be a straight forward, few month process. Instead, it has been hell on earth (2+ years and enough money to buy me a new car), and I wouldn’t wish the process on anyone.
**(After a few cocktails, I feel brave enough to take out my fake tooth and freak people out. GREAT party trick. Doesn’t get a lot of drinks bought for me at the bar though…)
Health Issue #2
The second item of business is my butt. More specifically, my sacrum. I fractured it whilst snowboarding for my first (and last) time in January 2017. It’s been a roller coaster of highs (“YAY, I can do a squat without wincing!”) and lows (“Hey, its Alyson. Do you have a pair of crutches I could borrow?). I have been down every road of recovery (physical therapy, chiropractic, whiskey, dry needling, stretching, foam rolling, rest, angry tears, prayer to healing gods, etc).
It’s not that bad…but it’s not that great
Some days I think, “My health issues aren’t that bad.” And in some ways, this is absolutely true. So I have a tooth missing from the front of my mouth? So I haven’t been able to run or do anything that requires a lot of exertion in two years? Things could be worse!
Then, other days, I’m overcome with thoughts like,
- “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?”
- “WHY DID THE UNIVERSE CHOOSE ME TO BE THE TOOTHLESS BROAD?”
- “WHY DID I HAVE TO GO SNOWBOARDING? I HATE THE SNOW!”
My tooth implant issue may seem like a small deal but to some, but to me it is a rather large deal. You see, I am missing a TOOTH. In the FRONT OF MY MOUTH. My uber-sexy retainer causes strangers to say, “DO YOU HAVE INVISALIGN?!” leaving me with the options of either lying and saying that, yes, I indeed have Invisalign or telling the truth about being toothless to the cashier clerk at Trader Joe’s.
My sacrum is now healed, but it has caused a host of other issues in the areas surrounding it. I can’t run. I played soccer for almost 20 years, running has been one of my main coping skills. And it got ripped out from under me in the literal form of me falling on my ass on a ski run. THE IRONY.
At least I don’t have (fill in the blank)?
I noticed myself reverting back to an old adage that I think many of us are told and/or tell ourselves. We do the thing where we say, “Well, yeah, I’m in pain, but at least I don’t have X?” Some examples:
“Well, at least I can walk?”
“Okay you’re missing a tooth, it’s not like it’s your nose?”
“You can walk! You can talk! (With a bit of lisp, but most people don’t notice.) Why are you complaining?”
“People have been through MUCH worse and have been fine. You should be fine too.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I see the value in this logic. Compare your problems to bigger problems so yours don’t seem so terrible! If we keep our focus on the things we DO have instead of the things we DON’T have, we’ll find immediate relief.
The problem is, it doesn’t work
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way most of the time. Usually it works about as well as me going to Nordstrom Rack to “just buy a sports bra.”
Comparing your misfortune to that of others does not magically make your issues suck less. The truth of the matter is, humans are inherently egocentric; we are programmed to think of our own problems first (you know, survival of the fittest and all that.) So, while logically and reasonably I can see that my problems are not as dire as someone else’s, on a spiritual level it does not help. It just doesn’t stick.
Also, who is to say what is “worse” for one person vs. another?
Is there a worldwide standard for you to gauge how shitty your life is going right now? Is there a suck-o-meter out there that we all need to ascribe to? If so, where is it kept? Is it updated regularly? Does it follow the metric system? Must we always judge how were feeling against what we “should” be feeling, relative to the status quo?
Maybe if we admit it sucks…it will stop sucking?
Similar to how someone appreciates when you validate their feelings, you need to validate your OWN feelings. It’s okay that some things suck. If there is no way around it, you gotta just embrace it. Maybe after you embrace the shittiness of the situation, you’ll be able to move on with your day and possibly enjoy yourself? Instead of spending 24 hours a day fighting with words that are foreign to you and don’t fit your mood like, “But I have so much to be grateful for!”, maybe vent to someone about how you’re feeling. Let it out. Write it down on a piece of paper. Unload on your mailman about your day (joking). Just… GET IT OUT.
Yes, you do have a lot to be grateful for. Yes, things could be worse. But this still sucks.
The key here is to not dwell in the suck. Don’t get coffee with the suck. Don’t take the suck shopping with you. Acknowledge the suck, then move on and do something to make yourself feel better. Ignoring the reality of your feelings does not make them go away, they just go gather their sucky friends and come back even stronger.