Two years ago I went to counseling for a few months; at the time my life was like a bad country song and I desperately needed some perspective. My fiancé and I had just spent three months in Bonaire, the Western most Caribbean Island, trying to make a life for ourselves. It was one of my long held bucket list items that went horribly awry from the first day when we found out our new apartment was already occupied- by families of mice and cockroaches. Ten days later my fiancé was hit by a car while he was riding his bicycle, and the final straw was me getting ill and fainting, face-planting onto a tile floor. We had moved there to become healthier and instead we came back physically and emotionally drained and confused.
As I was describing my issues to my counselor she said something that made me stop in my tracks and pause for a minute. “You have too much noise in your life, until that can be dealt with the big decisions you need to make won’t become clear.” “Noise, what a good description of the things I am dealing with right now,” I thought. The noise I was handling was finding the right doctors for my fiancé who was seriously injured, a dentist for myself to fix a broken tooth from my fall, financial woes from all the money lost during the disastrous three months we had just lived through, and my worsening health which was declining in a worrying way, along with the daily stresses of life.
Noise, the uncontrollable issues that we find ourselves having to deal with, often at the most inconvenient times, are a part of life; as my friend Ellen has said, “If it’s not one thing it’s two.” The problem for people like me, who live with noise of another sort, the noise of chronic pain and disease, is that this noise, especially the inconvenient type, can push you into a flare-up before you know it. I was sitting with my counselor trying to figure out how to get through the next few months without having this happen.
During our time together we didn’t manage to completely ward off a flare-up, but what we did do is help me to gain a perspective which led to better choices. Acknowledging the fact that I had too much on my plate helped me to take more decisive action when my pain level ramped up. It helped me to ask for help before I struggled in a way that was hurting me. It helped me to understand that what my body needed more than any Caribbean island was a comfortable, safe place to live surrounded by loved ones. It guided my decision to move back to Durango, CO, a place that I love, instead of continuing my never- ending search for the perfect climate for my achy body.
All of these were life- altering lessons that I continue to remember today. Sometimes when life gets too hard it is best to do the only thing guaranteed to help- change the way you see the problem so you can approach it differently. Moving forward, I now pay attention to my life “noise” and factor that into my self-care, and this continues to shape my life in much healthier ways.
Maybe all the cockroaches were worth it.