A Shadow Of My Former Self

mirrorI had an illuminating conversation with a fellow person with MS today and it made me think.

We were talking about what our ‘other’ selves would be doing at this point, without MS in our lives.

Number one on my list is the death of courage.

I was in a beautiful hotel in mid-Wales for a meeting but getting there had been a carefully-crafted expedition. On my own. For someone who has had The Boss pick me up every day for work since January with a cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant,  this was, well, big. Huge.

I drove there for a meeting all on my own, with only my nagging sat-nav and a can of Red Bull for company. I was utterly petrified. To put this in perspective, I used to think nothing of finishing work in Austria and driving to Prague for dinner.

As I wended my way around the winding roads, I reflected upon my Other Life. I would have gone to work, no need for day off to prepare. I’d hop in the car with tousled wet hair fresh from a shower, perhaps wearing a jaunty striped t-shirt with a scarf knotted just so. I would toss a few essentials in a canvas bag and leave.

In my other life, the one that I forked away from back in 2011, I would be a fully-qualified social worker. I would be helping people. I would also have matching cushions and dinner parties with interesting people, where I would serve kitchen suppers involving pomegranate seeds and an Indonesian paste.

My shadow self stalks me. Yet, isn’t that the same for everyone, MS or not? Don’t we all wonder what we could/should/would have done; it’s merely that MS throws this in to sharp relief?

Maybe I should concentrate on that other fork in the road, the one that led me here? Ok, so I may not have matching cushions and a satisfying career, but would I have grown as a person? Probably not.

Without MS, I would not have that job where I could be here every single day that The Teenager got back from school. I would not have been witness to the tiniest moments that are the biggest in a Teenager’s life.

Without MS, I would not have pursued a childhood dream of writing. It seemed silly, something unimportant and indulgent. MS forced my hand.

Without MS, I would not have experienced the fragility of life until I was a lot older, and perhaps it would have been too late? And the regrets would have been more powerful?

Me and my alternate shadow co-exist. We have to. As someone once said to me:

The darker the shadow, the stronger the light shining nearby.

10 thoughts on “A Shadow Of My Former Self

  1. Robert Joyce says:

    Chronic illness has a way of focusing the person to take as much from their life as they can. We cannot put off for tomorrow something that we would like to do, as tomorrow we may not be able. So we must do it today. While we can. The luxury of time is not available.

    Super post.

    Thank you

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you! And what a lovely comment. You’re so right, don’t put things off and time is most definitely a luxury.

  2. Judy says:

    This really touches me

  3. Joan (Devon) says:

    I retired from work and moved to Wales just after the final decision that I did indeed have MS. After moving to Wales I didn’t look for employment as I was 59, didn’t know what MS entailed and thought that it wouldn’t be fair to a new employer whatever it was. My husband was working full time so I was at home with days to fill. I pottered and moped and didn’t do anything constructive.

    I had been doing my family history for well over 30 years then, so I started gathering all the information together and typed it all up mainly to leave for my daughter. She wouldn’t have made head nor tail from the notes and information that I had. So that is what I did plus more research as I went along. When I had finished it which was 64 A4 pages on my father’s side and 71 A4 pages on my mother’s side I sent relevant copies to relatives on both sides. Their responses were “Wow”, “Brilliant” and “Wonderful”, which made me feel that it was worth doing and much appreciated.

    So, my conclusion is that if I didn’t have MS it wouldn’t have got done as I may have gone back to work even if it was just for a few days a week or I could have enjoyed my retirement in other ways. So something constructive did come out of the MS for me.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Seriously, this is such an inspiring story! What a wonderful legacy you’ve created. And your family’s response is credit where credit is due.
      It’s so heartening to hear that there is lightness through the darkness of something like MS and this just proves it.

  4. Annie says:

    So accurate … carpe diem… the other day my dad (age 80)was on the phone to me. He was home alone as mum was out for evening .. when I asked him if he was having a glass of wine (he’s v fond ?) he replied that he only had very special wine in the house for an ocasion. I told him today was special … he’s fit and healthy and able to enjoy. Pop that cork and don’t wait for 2m!!! MS has defs made me re-think … great post ?X

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I completely agree! I once read a poem (wish I could remember it) about an elderly lady who had died, and her family find all the things she kept ‘for best’. Which of course never happened. It urged people to use the best stuff now.

  5. Carina says:

    How true all your words … Having a chronic illness like MS makes you appreciate the good times much more. I sometimes laugh at how some people get so angry over such trivial things (the bus is 10 minutes late this morning) when there are others who are struggling with the basics like getting up in the morning or taking a walk round the corner…. The real challenge is to use your time well and to do things which you love and to be with the people who matter most. Life is too short to make compromises!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thanks Carina!
      You’re so right – I do think MS makes you appreciate the smallest of victories and not sweat the small stuff either.
      Something for me to keep in mind when I can’t fit into a really nice top I like, lol!!

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