Once Upon a Time, When I was Young... I thought RA was a pretty simple thing. It was arthritis, plain and simple. You tried a few treatments, found the right ones, and then things went back to normal. At the worst, I assumed I would move a little slower, perhaps have a bit of a limp, perhaps have a few bad days here and there.
Once Upon a Time, When I was Young... I spent my days conquering the world and doing everything I needed and wanted to. And now I feel old and worn out. I hurt all the time, but that is somehow the easy part. We have tried so many things and are still trying them. But RA isn't the simple disease it seemed to be when standing on the outside looking in. It behaves differently in everyone.
Once Upon a Time, When I was Young... I ran this show. I determined my schedule. I decided how to spend my days. I could go to any conference, any signing. I had the stamina and energy and physical endurance to blog and write and edit and market and do everything an author is expected to do to build her career and reach out to readers. I could do it all, and I loved it. Now, I've finally had to admit to myself that I can't do most of it. Not even on my good days. Things will get better, but they'll never be what they were before. So the amazing places I imagined my writing would take me, the accomplishments I'd daydreamed about, have taken their place alongside so many other things I am learning to let go of.
Once Upon a Time, When I was Young... I thought all those things were extremely important. Crucial, even. I had a predetermined definition of success. But I'm suddenly older now. Older and wiser. I have learned to be grateful for the smallest of things. I have learned a new definition of success. I have discovered inner strength I didn't know I possessed.
I don't know what my life will look like in another year, another decade. Things are still too complicated, too up in the air. I'll confess, part of me is a little scared. When I was younger and life was easier, that bit of uncertainty would have eaten away at me. But life is a gift, and I don't mean to waste it being afraid. Because I am a stronger person than I was when I was young, once upon a time.