Lately this analogy has been floating around Facebook about the glass of water in the hand of a teacher and how she can hold it for a few moments no problem, but hold it for hours and it causes pain in her hand, her arm, her shoulder and back. Of course, this glass is the stress in your life and while it’s okay-good even- to hold that stress for a little while, carrying it around with you like that will mess you up.
It’s a fantastic way to express to people why it isn’t good to hang on to all that noise in their life. We all do it. We worry too much about our work projects, our to-do lists for the house, what plans we say “yes” to and even more about the plans we say “no” to. Sometimes we have heavier things to worry about like legal or financial issues. (Those are real heavy) Even the smallest of things can wreak havoc on you if you don’t take a break. You have to put it down.
My pain is a lot like that glass of water. Sometimes it’s barely full and weighs very little and other days it’s filled to the brim and even the slightest shift will cause it to overflow. One thing stays exactly the same though; I can never put it down.
I will never get to stop holding this glass of water.
I know, I know, it sounds dramatic, or maybe you’re tired of being told how a person’s chronic illness and pain never goes away but do me a favor yeah? Take a moment, just one moment and imagine that you are holding a glass of water and it is permanently affixed to your hand. Imagine what it will be like for you to never put it down.
You wake up in the morning and you’re holding that glass. It’s inconvenient, in the way while you shower and dress and make your way to work. Sure, you’re going about your tasks and maybe you are even proud of how well you’re managing it all with one hand dedicated to this glass.
You’ve mastered grocery shopping without that hand free, cooking dinner and laundry are a bit different, probably takes you longer but hey, you’re doing it. Then you get sick with a nasty cold or a stomach bug and you’re miserable. You start to nurse your sick self back to health but you still have to handle that glass of water. Imagine that.
Maybe you’re having an argument with your spouse or significant other but you still have to watch that glass to keep it from spilling. No. You can’t put it down until you’ve finished dealing with this issue. In fact, the argument itself probably fills that cup even further.
You have a night out with friends. Drinks, dinner, dancing-the works! No. You cannot put it down so you can have a 100% care free night.
Now that you’re starting to get the picture, imagine something huge happens in your life. Let’s say someone passes away and you are devastated. All you want to do is cry and focus on the process of grieving this loss.
You cannot put that glass of water down.
No, not to grieve.
Not to get married.
Not to parent your kids.
Not to go on vacation.
It does not matter what other thing happens in life, you will never get to put it down. No matter what other thing in life requires your attention, you will forever only be able to give the rest of your life part of you. Your job, your hobbies, your spouse, your kids, your pets. All of it effected because you are forever going to hold that glass of water in your hand.
Okay, you can stop imaging now, I appreciate you playing along.
For the most part I have accepted my particular glass of water, and it has been integrated it into my life in a way that doesn’t interfere too much outside of surgical season (which comes around every six months to a year it seems). After three years of pelvic surgery free time I have gotten back into the mix of trying to relieve my pain. Medicine has advanced in the area of vascular surgery and I have had some pretty decent results as far as diagnoses go.
As much as these last few weeks have been informative they have also been less than positive. The likelihood that there is a pain free future for me is dwindling by the day, and my glass of water is increasing in weight as I become more and more aware of it.
That’s what happens when you focus on your condition rather than your life though. Making room for all those tests, treatments, recoveries and consults really cuts down on the amount of time a person can spend doing “normal” things.
Without the daily distractions of everyday life, all I can do is stare at this damn glass of water.
I hate it.
I want to scream and yell and throw it across the room and watch with intense satisfaction as it shatters against the wall. Praying it feels every second of the anguish it has brought to my life. Aiming to unburden my very soul of the darkness it has caused.
I cannot even begin to express to you all how much it devastates me to continually accept that I will never get rid of it. Other glasses may come and go in my life, and there are times I am holding way too many, but this one will never go.
Do you understand that? Can you even try?
It. Will. Never. Leave.
I am in disbelief even as I write it. No matter what I do, what I say, what I try, no matter what test I have or doctor I see or procedure I have.
I will never get to put this miserable fucking glass of water down.