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Ten Years On…

I started this blog ten years ago, poised to launch into the unknown, on the brink of what could only be some sort of adventure. I knew not what lay in store, just that I was compelled by a force that had nothing to do with conscious or deliberate thought. I knew I had to go, nothing more.

That adventure brought me, among other places, here to Boulder, Colorado, a place I have called home since less than a year after first “walking about” in its midst. I could not have foreseen that move, nor could I have foreseen the forces that befell me not long after settling here. (Do I sound like an early frontierswoman? Let’s be honest, I would never have cut it on the ole wagon train.) But perhaps I’m not so far from those frontiersfolk—they who had to bow in place before natural (and maybe supernatural?) forces, compelling them to make a stand where they were and fight for survival.

I came here to live a different kind of life, although I could not envision what it would look like. What unfolded was so far beyond the realm of any imaginings, that I could never have dreamt it, even in my nightmares. I came to the frontier foothills to live amidst nature, rediscover the joys of living as a true part of it, exalt in its beauty, and live richly and meaningfully in a small community. What I got was something of a different order entirely. Felled by the disease I unknowingly carried with me from elsewhere (origin unknown), I have spent most of the last eight years indoors, incapacitated in varying degrees. I stopped writing and posting here four years ago, because I was both too sick to write, and had nothing new to say. (I have no interest in becoming a Lyme blogger.) I left social media three years ago on the heels of that election, realizing the world was more than I could bear. Politics aside, people I thought loved me posted things that left me at best insulted, at worst gutted. And those who didn’t hurt my feelings made me indecently envious. I know that social media lives are curated; but they are lives. The fury and envy engendered watching my friends get to go about their lives while I’ve been sidelined was unbearable. I couldn’t take the heat, so followed Mom’s timeless advice and got outta the kitchen.

In these last few years, I have made ungodly slow medical progress, and have transformed into a recluse. I stopped trying to go to coffeeshops and pretend I was working on my laptop; I stopped going out for meals since I couldn’t eat anything anymore anyway.  I stopped trying in most social arenas—most of my friends had moved out of Boulder, and I couldn’t hold a conversation for more than a short time anyway. I just retreated into “my cave” where I could somewhat limit what came at me. I read chick-lit novels and watch easy-on-the-nervous-system TV. Some friends have reached in, and to them and especially those who have visited despite my inability to uphold my end of relationships, I will always be grateful. I have learned well and truly what is and is not important. The only real gift anyone can give you is their time and attention. Everything else is fluff.

So where are things “at” now? Well, I am doing considerably better, but I am not yet “well.” This pace is typical with Lyme Complex, and yes, I am getting the best medical care. After starting to lose my will to live early this year, I have seen a slow but steady improvement over 2019. I have responded very well to my most recent course of treatment, and say with great trepidation and fear of cosmic reprisal that I might be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. The last few weeks I’ve received multiple comments on seeming better by those who see me (other patients in the clinic, practitioners, neighbors, etc.) on a regular basis. Also (this could be big), there appears to be a breakthrough in Lyme treatment, and I will be able to start that treatment sometime in the coming weeks.

As I feel better, my mood naturally improves, and I find myself teetering atop a confounding internal dichotomy. In my interactions, some variant of the me of yore begins to re-emerge. I don’t “look sick,” and I can fake it for short periods of time and not act sick either. When that happens, a cheery, outgoing person with a sense of humor comes out of my mouth. This despite me feeling angry, resentful, full of grief, and bitter on the inside. Yes, I am bitter. I resent that others get to carry on with their lives, however messy they may be, while I have been trapped in a medical version of the movie “Groundhog Day” for the final decade of my youth. I am disgusted at the waste of a life, one that I had already embarked on living in a meaningful way. I am affronted at being prevented from really inhabiting my life. I grieve the irretrievably lost years, both with myself and those that I love. My nieces have grown up, my mother is 82. I have missed countless weddings and funerals and other milestone events that used to be so important to share. I have been unable to say final goodbyes to people I held dear for decades of my life. It doesn’t matter that life is not fair, and that there are millions of others in the world who have been equally or more hamstrung than I. I am offended and affronted for all of us. This is not what we were meant to do. It is certainly not what I came into this life to do. If life is a gift—which so many squander—I am outraged at having to waste that gift against my will. And yet……and yet……when I talk to a stranger in the library or the checker at the market, what comes out is……good cheer..…?  Imagine my confusion.

I have been contemplating writing again on this, the ten-year anniversary of creating this blog. But I didn’t know what to write about. Then one day (thank you, Jessica, my therapist), I realized that this is it: the bizarre, surreal intersection of the outraged bitter sorrow and the cheerful good humor. I don’t pretend to understand it, because I simply don’t. But despite seeming like they should cancel each other out, despite the intuitive sense that these things abiding in the same space and time is antithetical, they do continue to abide, sometimes side by side, sometimes crossing swords. These things apparently can coexist—as they are both within me, both very real parts of me; and contrary to reports and my fears to the contrary (apologies to Mark Twain), I actually remain. Alive, and if not yet well, making my stand here in majestic Boulder, Colorado, where all those hardy frontierswomen stood their ground and built lives of survival centuries before me.

This post is dedicated to my cousin Robert and in memory of our grandpa, Willie, on the anniversary of Grandpa’s birth, November 4th.


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