I have a cousin who was born very prematurely. When he was born, my aunt and uncle were told that my cousin would likely not live through the night. He spent quite a bit of time in the NICU, and even after he went home, he had to be fed through a tube in his stomach, and was on oxygen.
As he grew, he had limitations, due in large part to the "button" in his stomach (which is what he called it), and his oxygen cord. My grandmother once told me that when he was about three or four, his two older brothers were riding their bikes in the front yard, going back and forth, and even doing simple tricks on a ramp they made. My cousin sat on the porch steps watching them, unable to participate. He didn't complain about not being able to play with them. My grandmother said she thinks it's because he never knew any different. That was how his life was, so he didn't feel he was missing anything. It was what it was.
That was kind of how my life until very recently. I was in a difficult situation, and it simply was what it was. In the moment I didn't realize how difficult it was because it was just the way my life was. I didn't know any different.
Because I couldn't take a breath, I forgot how to breathe. And I didn't realize how damaging it was to me that I wasn't breathing until I took a breath again.
Since coming out, since the divorce, and (most importantly) since Bo*, my whole life has been better. My overall health is better, my mental and emotional health is better, and even my career is better. I am at peace in my life. I have a direction and I'm moving toward it.
Life is good.
Because I didn't know any differently, I didn't realize just how bad things were for me until they started getting better. Now, looking back, I think, "How could I have let [fill in example here] get that bad? Why didn't I do something sooner?"
I didn't because I just didn't realize that it needed done. This was how my life was, and that was all there was to it. And it's only looking back that I see it.
It's similar to having chronic pain. If you've ever struggled with chronic pain due to an illness or injury, you likely know what I'm talking about. After a while, the pain is there so much that you learn to live with it, you adapt, and you really don't notice it unless it gets worse. Then, you find that one medication that works, or that physical therapist who helps, and the pain eases. And you didn't realize how much pain you were in until it subsides.
That's how my life has been. And no amount of praying or church or counseling or talking to friends and family helped until I fixed the root of the problems.
I'm not saying that now everything is perfect. It's not. But it's a helluva lot better than it was, and I'm on track to reach my personal and professional goals. And, as if that weren't enough, I have an amazing woman in my life.
I've taken a breath. And I'm not going back.
*I used to refer to Bo as Yvaine on this blog. However, Puck and Tink have started calling her Bo, so I decided it would be appropriate to use that nickname here.