We all remember fondly the long road trips we took as children with our parents in the station wagon (for us old folks) and mini-vans (for the younger generations) where we couldn’t wait to get THERE. You know, the place we were going. The destination. The reason we were stuck in this vehicle with our family members with no escape. We might have gotten to stop and buy a souvenir once or twice, and been allowed the requisite number of bathroom breaks and meals, but back in the car we went to sit and sit, staring out the window, wondering what it would be like when we got THERE.
We weren’t in the driver’s seat. We weren’t even in the FRONT seat. We were stuck in the back with a bratty younger sister and possibly slightly mean older brother wishing we would just get THERE!
In 2006 when I became very ill with Lyme disease and bartonella, I just wanted to get well. I lived every moment of my day being sick and wanting to be well. I took my pills, swallowed massive amounts of supplements, and even tried alternative treatments at one point. No matter how long I tried I just could not get THERE. I could not get well. I could not get my life back. I could not be the same person I was before getting sick. I often refer to my former life, before Lyme disease, before having my body and brain taken captive by a spirochete and its common companion bartonella as a previous life. There was this ME that is no more. It is gone. I am a different person, life turned upside down, destroyed, and not really put back together.
On top of being ill I was in a really, really bad marriage. Lots of control, emotional abuse, complete neglect even while very ill, and then complete abandonment. He didn’t leave the house (it was his house and I was his wife and those were his children); he just abandoned me. So there I was at the worst point in my life personally with every part of my life completely messed up, destroyed, gone, and no light at the end of the tunnel. I kept waiting to get well so that I could get on with my life. I had registered to start school in 2007 but had a horrible relapse, probably a reinfection. I was back on the couch full-time getting up only to see that my kids made it to school, then back on the couch. Up again to order dinner from a local take-out restaurant, and then back on the couch. I was never going to get well like that. I sat in the back seat and waited to get THERE.
I did finally receive long-term antibiotics that brought me a lot of progress: I had physical therapy to get me moving again with less pain, learned to take pain relievers properly, and changed my diet. I made a lot of progress over a 1.5 year period. I would say I got back to 65% of my former self at my best. I figure I am about 50-60% now.
The biggest change occurred when I realized that I was never going to be like I was pre-Lyme disease. My body had been damaged, my brain had been damaged, and my heart had been broken. Something was happening that began to open my eyes to a new reality: I could take one step at a time, one day at a time, and make a little progress just as I was. I didn’t need to get well to move on with my life. Eureka! That was it!!! I realized that I was never going to get THERE, and in a moment my life had new meaning.
My new motto is that it is all about the journey, not the destination. My goal is to get an associate’s degree and transfer to a four-year university, earn a bachelor’s then a master’s and finally a doctorate. I might be 80 years old when I get that doctorate or I might kick the bucket before I can achieve that goal, but I plan to pursue my education for as long as I can, for as long as my eyes can read, my fingers can type, my brain can comprehend, and my heart is beating.
In dealing with healing from physical or mental abuse, from illness or injury, the one thing that has given me hope is that I do not need to arrive anyplace at any particular time. I will get there when I get there, and that is okay with me (this applies to grieving, too). It is not about THERE. It is about the journey, what is outside my window right now, what is inside my heart, what is given to me in this moment to enjoy.
May your journey be filled with wonder and joy!