Eleven years ago, in 2011, I began this blog to document a new phase of the journey of my life. To be honest, the new phase started in 2008 when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia. In 2010, I made a significant decision, the kind that is not easily reversible. I decided to walk towards the unknown. I decided to step within and uncover or discover a different way to live.
Certainly, walking towards also means walking away from. I left behind a life I worked hard to create and tried to live. The reality, however, was that life threw me curveball in the form of fibromyalgia. Back then, I had many reasonable feelings and perhaps some unreasonable thoughts about developing this chronic illness.
My feelings ran the gamut, from anger to fear to sadness to happiness (after all, life can always be worse). My thoughts were both pratical (how can I survive like this?) and seemingly impractical (how can I move to Italy?).
Only two things were certain: the present could no longer exist, and whatever future I have, I would need to trust to instinct and chance because I could not trust my body to function as usual. I needed to learn to accept that I was no longer who I once knew myself to be.
You may be wondering why I decided to write about this topic today. Recently, a friend told me that they were asked by someone else, “So, why did Diedré leave her previous line of work (considering the renown of the hospital)?” It made me realize that it may be difficult for others to understand my path.
Sometimes in life your life may seem ideal to others. They may think, “You have everything I would like.” This way of thinking is not inherently wrong. It is merely uninformed. We cannot fully know or understand the intricacies of anyone’s life. It is enough to take on the challenge of knowing and understanding our own.
So, why did I decide to go towards the within to the unknown parts of myself? Because I needed to find a new way to live, to understand myself, and I am naturally curious about the world around me.
Thirteen years ago, I sat in a fibromyalgia group support meeting. I was the youngest member of the group, by about 10 years. Listening to the group members, I learned how much fibromyalgia had changed their lives… for the worse. They could no longer work, had difficulties with daily functioning, were angry, sad, and frustrated with the hand that life dealt them.
I didn’t see their path as mine. I decided to find a different way, even if others may not understand it.
I am now in same age range of those fibromyalgia group members. Over the past decade, I have travelled quite a bit, studied, and am now working full-time. It is a very simple life that I have crafted based on my abilities and health.
I don’t know how life would have been if I had continued on my original path. I do know that the path I chose has led me to learn more about the world and myself.
If nothing else in life, know this: only you can live your life, and only you can change your path.
Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan. I cried today. It’s my way of coping with difficult situations, especially those in which I have limited freedom to speak my thoughts.
Surely, we can say whatever we want to whomever whenever…as long as we are willing to deal with the consequences. I prefer to let my tears speak rather than my mouth because I would rather the judgment of my tears than the recklessness of my words.
For many years, I felt ashamed of my tears. I thought crying made me inherently wrong and weak. I wanted to be stoic because that symbolized emotional strength, the ability to “endure pain and hardship without showing [one’s] feelings or complaining.”
In my experience of living in Japan, being stoic has been elevated to an art form. It seems to be the preferred business stance. It can make showing emotions seem not only embarrassing but potentially job threatening.
Still, I am learning that it is far more important to me to be myself, whatever and however that self is. I cried today at work and will likely cry again in the future. Expressing my emotions through tears is just the way I am. I cry when I happy, sad, angry, and fearful.
And nowadays, when I finish crying, I feel a profound sense of relief and release. I can breathe and move freely once again.
Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan. It’s been a long day, and I’d like nothing better than to go to bed. However, I want to spend a little time discussing a topic that has been on my mind: envy.
The American Psychological Association defines envy as “a negative emotion of discontent and resentment generated by desire for the possessions, attributes, qualities, or achievements of another.” It can often be confused with jealousy, which requires a third party to be involved. And it can be very challenging when you experience both simultaneously.
There are various reasons why one might feel envious and/or jealous. At the core of these feelings, however, lies insecurity, which brings me to the main point of this post: difficult feelings (negative emotions), like envy, are just an indicator that you need to stabilize your sense of self.
Your foundation, for whatever reason, has become shaky, weakened and in need of repair.
Yesterday, while roaming the streets of Tokyo, I spent time talking with my friend about her experiences with envy and jealousy. It gave me pause for thought about my journey over the recent years. To say that I felt insecure would be an understatement. I lived with a number of uncomfortable emotions, including envy and jealousy.
Instead of denying these emotions, pulling away because they were undesirable (negative) emotions, I chose to be curious about them. I leaned into them. I wanted to understand why they existed within me. Why did I feel envious? Why did I feel jealous?
Surely, there were external factors and a childhood history that created the perfect breeding ground for such emotions to thrive. Furthermore, I understood my experience of jealousy better than envy because I had encounter this feeling in an early relationship. Being envious of someone was new and, to be quite frank, nonsensical–I had no reason to feel envious. Thinking about it with a rational mind, I could see that there was nothing about which I needed feel envy. Still, I did feel envious…and so I tackled it head on.
Overcoming uncomfortable emotions takes a willingness to self-confront, nonjudgmentally and with grasp on the concept of taking ownership of your feelings. Regardless of what has been outside of your control, you always have the choice to take control of you, of your mind, body, and emotions. By taking control, by understanding that your next step forward is in your hands, your feelings of insecurity can begin diminishing.
Of course, it’s easy to write the above. It’s far harder to live it. Still, one has to decide what is more important: living with the burden of these uncomfortable emotions or living freely and comfortably as who you are.
One key tip: it is far easier to stabilize your foundation and heal when you remove/separate yourself from the toxic relationships in which you have chosen to engage. Do that, and a great deal of change is awaiting you.
Somewhere, Tokyo. For some time now, I’ve been decoding and rewriting my mental programming script. It’s been a slow and challenging process, but an exciting and rewarding experience. Today represented the rewriting of another line of code: I went to Tokyo.
Since arriving in Japan, I have travelled little outside of my prefecture. However, the few times that I have ventured out have been marked by emotionally and mentally difficult experiences. Tokyo (or the thought of spending time there), in particular, has been a trigger for unwelcomed memories, anxiety and thoughts and feelings about self. So, I decided it was time to tackle that. I made a plan with a dear friend to meet in Shibuya for lunch and shopping.
The morning started early for me (I left home at 5:00 to catch the train), and I could feel my anxiety level rise with every step I took to the train station. Luckily, I brought my knitting and crochet to help manage those feelings. By the time I arrived in Tokyo, I felt ready to see the city with an open mind and without the weight of the past.
I met my friend as planned, walked around the city, visited shops, had a great lunch, and laughed a lot. It was fantastic! I felt…happy. More importantly, I felt strong, confident about myself and my place in the world. I am truly grateful to my friend, who has been a like a ray of sunshine for me on emotionally cloudy days. Thanks!
Scale? Check. Tape measure? Check. I’ve got some basic tools for body assessment. Oh, I forgot…I have a full length mirror, too. Check. My eyes, armed with a pair of glasses, seem ready for the task of looking, with extreme subjectivity, at my physical self.
Body image. I’d like to spend time talking about my own today.
First, however, what is body image? The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) defines body image as “how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind.” This encompasses 1) what you believe about your appearance, 2) how you feel about your body overall, and 3) how you sense your physical experience of your body within space. The story that accompanies our perception stems from the messages we received in childhood about our body and the bodies of those around us. Body image, whether positive or negative, can change over time due to various factors. Body image isn’t static, it’s a journey that we are all on throughout our lives.
Given my background as an expressive therapist, specialized in the treatment of eating disorders, I have avoided discussing my body image journey. However, in light of the growing awareness and conversation about this topic, I would like to share some aspects of my experience.
Prior to my diagnosis, my body image was more on the positive side of the spectrum. I saw my body as quite strong, flexible, and healthy, having spent the years prior devoted to weight training, yoga, and maintaining a fairly decent diet. My weight would have been considered on the higher end of my weight range for my height. However, I was not concerned about this due to my muscle to fat ratio. In essence, I perceived myself as a healthy 20-something-year-old with love for dancing as many days of the week as I could.
When I began feeling ill for the first time in 2006, I felt confused and tried to find answers. My weight began to steadily climb upwards while my body’s abilities began a downward spiral. By 2008, I could barely recognize myself in the mirror. My body was no longer fit and the scale showed a number that I could never have imagined at that time. More importantly, my body couldn’t do what I expected it to be able to do.
For the first time, as adult, I felt ashamed of my body…and at a lost as to what to do.
The immense daily pain was unreal and unwelcomed. The fatigue, however, was the thing that made life unbearable. In my mind, I thought I could push through the pain. However, if I couldn’t even get up to begin that process, then what was the point? Luckily, my resilience has always been high. I made a plan to take control. Unfortunately, my focus was solely on my weight, not on the impact that my illness was having on my mind. Furthermore, I didn’t considered the consequences that losing weight would have on my intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships.
I became vegan and began walking for an hour every day. Over a period of two years, I lost twice the amount of weight that I had gained. I removed the word strong from self-description and added weak. I felt weak, tired, and in pain. I was, however, not as heavy as before. However, the years spent with the scale as a companion had had a severe impact on my mind. In addition, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself. It didn’t help that, at that time, I was also in the midst of some major life changes (separation, resignation, moving abroad, etc.).
I made the one mistake that I knew better not to make: I thought, “I don’t have time right now. I’ll have to figure it out later.”
It took almost a decade, but later finally came.
I prioritized creating my new life in Italy, leaving the old life in Massachusetts behind, and disregarding the reality of my increasingly fragmented self. In essence, I didn’t want to deal…and so I didn’t. The alarm bells began sounding about 5 years later when I found myself living in America once again. My weight had dramatically increased once again due to poor self-management while living in a stressful environment. Still, I decided to take the old approach–focus on the weight gain and not the mind. It was easier to focus on that rather than unravel the chaos of my internal and external world. As such my weight went down then up and then down again, while my body image continued its descent to rock bottom.
When You Hit Rock Bottom: There is Only Up
Just over two years ago, I hit rock bottom in multiple areas of my life (with the exception of work). I became aware that I had been choosing a very toxic, self-sabotaging path. So, I decided to change one thing at a time, including my relationship with my body.
If you do a quick internet search on improving body image, you can find countless articles on what steps to take. From what I can see, most of the advice is on point and doable. They are effective, if you are in the mental space and emotionally regulated enough to do them consistently. Fibromyalgia, however, can leave your mental space feeling limited and your emotions seriously dysregulated. So much of your time is spent managing fatigue or pain or both…and trying to manage the emotions that arise as a result.
Once I made my decision to improve my body image, I started with only one thing in mind:
shifting my focus.
I shifted my focus to what my body can do in the moment (not yesterday or tomorrow, etc.)–just here and now. In addition, I created goals, answering the following question: what do I want my body to do?
I put away the scale. I returned my tape measure to my notions container, put a message of affirmation on my mirror. I realized that I had stopped looking at myself in the mirror. Now, I make it a point to look at myself twice a day in the mirror. This is done with curiosity and without judgement.
I decided to become friends with my body. It’s a pretty cool body that can do many things. I want to learn more about what it can do, what it likes, and what it needs. I have also started getting clothes that fit properly and feel good. I want to understand more about my body’s style preferences.
Most importantly, I am grateful to my body for its strength. Despite the high levels of stress, the ongoing pain, and staggering fatigue, my body keeps going. Thanks, body!
Beyond the many lists I have only two tips:
1) become curious about your body, and
2) become your body’s best friend.
We spend a lot of time within our minds instead time within our bodies. We try to use our minds to control our bodies. We may think that we have a problem with discipline, not exercising enough or eating too much. Well, how about just stopping to listen to our bodies? How about letting your body tell you what it needs? Maybe it needs more sleep, massage, acupuncture, stretching, or to go for a nice walk.
You won’t know until you to stop to listen to your body.
Hitachinaka. Let’s begin with the title of this post. The above image is from late last night. I woke up to alarm chimes and sirens, the intensity of which caused me to get up and take a look.
What I saw caused my heart to sink…My neighbour’s home was on fire. I said a prayer for my neighbour and watched as the emergency services frantically worked to manage the situation. Other neighbours gathered and looked on with horror while a news photographer ran swiftly to capture the unfolding event.
As of this morning, a lone fire engine remained; the firefighters seemed to be investigating the little left of what was once there.
It is a sad reminder that this is also life: managing catastrophes and surveying the damage to make sense of and learn from what has happened.
In contrast to last night’s sad event, I have been spending time considering the concept of home. For most of my life, I have never been able to define it, with little success until now.
I’ll be honest, the thought of defining home has been terrifying. Home, up until recently, brought forth nothing positive in my mind. Like Deirdre of the Sorrows, home represented conflict, isolation, and unhappiness.
Home was a structure filled with the intentions and will of others, a place in which I acted a part that fit the psychological and physical needs of others.
In my previous post, I wrote about my issues with codependency. So, let’s be clear: I chose, whether consciously or unconsciously, to live in this manner. As an adult, I have always had a choice in how I live my life and with whom.
For over two decades, I chose to avoid creating my home, internally and externally. The past, luckily, remains the past.
What matters now is now.
My life in Japan has taught me that I can create home, a home that is peaceful and filled with harmony and love. More importantly, home lies within me. I can take it wherever I go, recreate as I choose because it is mine.
Perhaps one day I will decide to create a home with someone else, one that can hold the love and happiness as well as the challenges of a family. Even then, my home would still remain.
Home is a sacred internal space that one manifests externally.
As my neighbour’s home burned, I thought about my physical home and felt calm. My home is within and so can be recreated. Thus, I live free from the suffering of worry of losing home.
To my neighbour, I continue to offer my prayer and hope for the safety of all. Let the sorrow of this moment pass as all emotions, with time, do. Homes can be rebuilt. Let the next one be filled again with love and happiness.
Kasama, Ibaraki. It’s another grey day, the kind of day I find ideal for self-reflection. I have travelled to another city to see the local chrysanthemum festival. It’s not a long journey, about an hour and a half from start to finish…a little less if you count the mad dash I made to catch the bus to the train station.
After four and half years of living Japan, I have begun truly exploring my world. Sure, I visited Tokyo and Kyoto, got close to Mt. Fuji and visited some famous shrines. However, I was never really invested in visiting those places.
I was simply following along with the desires of others. This has been one of my biggest challenges in life: unlearning my codependency.
Some young version of self had been desperate for someplace to call home and for someone to call family. Some of you may be familiar with this feeling.
My navigation has led to a thoroughly interesting life that has provided (and continues to provide) me with opportunities for self-development. If living in Italy taught me about the importance of connecting with others, then living in Japan is teaching me about the importance of putting forth my authentic self.
In a culture that values the public face (建前), I have decided I no longer need my masks…because I am who I am. There is a beauty to being exactly who I am at all times. I laugh, cry, feel frustration and anxiety…sometimes all at the same time!
Expressing my true self, my “true sound” (本音), is my daily flow now. I am listening carefully to myself for the first time. I am giving myself the attention that I gave so freely to others in the past.
I feel zero shame or guilt for having been codependent. Codependency was my tool for surviving life. Certainly, I am glad that moving forward I don’t have a use for it.
I am a highly sensitive and empathic person who has spent enough years trying to conform to expectations of others, regardless of those expectations. It isn’t and wasn’t healthy.
Understanding how and why codependency serves a purpose in your life is key to making the changes necessary to shift your life from one of merely surviving to one of meaningful thriving.
Letting go of codependency doesn’t mean that you stop caring about others. It means that you have started:
caring about yourself
listening to your needs
honouring your feelings
clearing internal and external sources of toxicity (psychological and physical)
learning about yourself
focusing on fully crafting your own life, and
putting yourself first.
This list could be longer. However, I think you get the point. Overcoming codependency means acknowledging yourself as a being worthy of good things/experiences…and that you can give yourself those things/experiences.
Codependents are like chameleons, changing their outer expression of self to adapt to their environment, hoping that they will not become prey for predators. If I change, blend in just enough, then all will be well. It won’t. You will only lose yourself in the process.
Did you know that chameleons in their natural states are lovely shades of brown or green?
Letting go may not be easy. However, it is worthwhile. Seeing yourself for who you are, understanding what drives you, and loving yourself for all that you are and are not is the reward for choosing the process.
Be you, whoever that may be. Let others be themselves. Create strong boundaries and never lose sight of yourself.
Many thanks to those who have helped me to arrive at this point in my development. It’s been quite the journey to loving myself as I am. I will continue to create my path and share my process.
The closest I came to learning anything about Old Norse tradition was taking a course on Germanic languages (thank you, Professor Robinson) and studying the rune poems to learn about the runic alphabets. That’s it.
Still, I found myself entranced by the voice of Einar Selvik singing the poem “Völuspá,” which tells the Norse creation myth. Certainly, I understood nothing of the words, but the passion of his voice brought tears to my eyes. Such is the power of music.
Völuspá tells not only of the birth of world, but also its death and rebirth.
Fifteen years ago, I realized that something was terribly wrong. I felt tired, sick, and in pain. For two years, I searched for an answer. At various points, I was convinced that I was just psychosomatic, it was all in my head–it didn’t help that my doctor was dismissive of my condition and did little to help. Ultimately, I learned the name of my condition: fibromyalgia.
I wrote quite a bit about my journey with fibromyalgia between 2011 and 2015. For the past six years, I have remained relatively quiet on the topic and this blog for a variety of reasons. However, I would like to share with you a little about my journey.
If I think back to 2008, when I first received my diagnosis, my mind immediately remembers the laundry list of medications I was asked to take just to function. I spent more time at hospitals and clinics than at any other time in my life. I joined a support group that caused me to realize that there was some other way that I wanted to live…
I wanted to find a path to living a life that held meaning to me and not one defined by my illness. I believe I found it.
I became vegan (now pescatarian), started meditating, doing yoga, and taking walks regularly, and began scaling back on the medications I was being asked to take. Ultimately, I went from taking approximately eleven medications to taking three. And for the past four years, I take only one…and it’s not for fibromyalgia. Instead, I go regularly for acupuncture or massage to help with pain management.
Choosing to Do Things Differently
Living with fibromyalgia means living with uncertainty: uncertainty of what one can do, how one will feel, etc. It is understanding that one’s sense of self-efficacy will be shaken if not shattered. There is nothing quite as humbling as waking up to realize that one can neither move because of pain nor remember a particular word (or two) due to brain fog. One’s body can become an enemy as it seems to work against one’s mind. As a result, one’s self-concept may begin to unravel–it certainly did for me.
I’ve spent the past decade redefining myself, constructing a new self with the fragments of self that survived pre-fibromyalgia, filling in the missing parts with who I have become. Certainly, everyone changes over time. However, developing a chronic illness in adulthood, in particular, means having to accept a change in a well-established sense of self-concept as well as deal with the potential fallout of being ill. A long-term battle between who one is and who one used to be can ensue.
So, what can you do?
Choose to experience life differently.
For a long time, I was unhappy with my very nomadic life of living for only few years in any one place. However, now, I believe that my nomadism has been beneficial to my understanding my life with fibromyalgia. With each new place I have lived, I have had a chance to experience the world in a new way. Eventually, I came to the thought: why not remain open to experiencing myself differently, not just the world?
The challenge was no longer to hold on to an old concept of self, an old identity–it was to see and embrace a new aspect of self. Who am I now? How have I changed? What have I learned? Where do I want to go now on my journey?
Choose to ask yourself questions that open yourself to a newer you.
I realized that there was nothing to fear in being different from who I was. In the uncertainty of my condition, I found certainty. Having fibromyalgia has taught me (repeatedly) to be mindful of my physical and mental limits. It has confirmed for me certain goals and allowed me to discard others. I have become a kinder person to myself. Also, I am very curious about how my illness will continue influencing my perception of the world around me.
Remember: be who you are, embrace who you will become. In the interim, work on creating a life full of meaning for you. Let it be a life not defined by, but informed by your challenges.
Rewarding oneself is not particularly uncommon. We reward ourselves for a variety of reasons, usually after accomplishing something considered a goal or an important task. If a quick internet search on the topic of rewarding oneself proves anything, it is that, at its core, people are seeking reasons to feel better about themselves.
How we choose to reward ourselves also varies. However, some examples are going out to eat, shopping, or taking a vacation. Using food, in particular, may tap into childhood experiences, where food may have been used either as a reward or punishment, based upon behavior. Ultimately, how you choose to reward yourself for your achievements is how you choose to reward yourself.
Lately, I have been reading about motivation and engagement, particularly within the workplace. After all, I spend a great deal of my working, and understanding how and why I am working is important to me. Just so you know, I tend to be a more intrinsically motivated person, which has its benefits and drawbacks. Regarding engaging with life, I am finding my flow.
Journeying toward the within is lifelong. When I first started this blog, just over a decade ago, I little knew my direction, only that I was moving towards something or self that was different from what I knew or had come to accept. Ten years later, I have come to realize that…
This, of course, may seem rather strange, considering my background as a therapist. Being a therapist doesn’t mean, however, that you have your own psychology completed sorted. After all, therapists need therapists, too. It may be far easier to see the problems of others and understand how to effect positive change than to see and make changes in one’s own life.
I am certain that I am not alone in this thinking pattern of feeling good as a reward. It is telltale of a life defined by expected perfection and overachievement. It can mean a life of never feeling quite good enough and of rarely, if ever, acknowledging what one has done…because there is always some way that one can improve or that something more that should be done. An accomplishment becomes a brief signal that for a moment you can feel good about your existence.
Such a difficult way to live life…
Feeling good about yourself can be an everyday experience. It comes with acknowledging your existence as being meaningful–that as you are, you are worthy. Worthy of what? Worthy of self-love, self-care, self-regard, self-trust, etc. The life you have built up until now is yours to do with as you will. It isn’t a race that you either win or lose. It is simply a life, one that can be lived positively (if not always happily).
So, where do we go from here? Well, I have a couple of recommendations:
Start simple – Think/write about how you have been viewing you and your life up until now.
Inform yourself – Learn about ways you can improve enjoying who you are in your everyday life.
Step back – Take time to yourself, just for yourself, to do something/experience good.
I enjoy reading. Here are some books that I have been using to help my journey:
Feeling good about yourself, if it is unfamiliar to you, may be likened to forming a new habit. Let’s be real, it will take time, consistency, and a patience. There are various theories and approaches to how one can form a habit. My recommendation is to keep it simple and focus on the moment you are in and how you are feeling.
You may not always feel great about your thoughts and your actions. However, you can always feel good about who you are and your existence.
The other day a younger friend said, “D, I wonder why your life has been filled with so many challenges.” We’ve known each other for almost four years. It’s a fair statement. It’s true, my life, over the past five years and longer, has seen its share of ups and downs.
Still, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Who I am now is a far better person than who I have ever been. And the person I am crafting myself to be will better than who I am now. This is the process of choosing personal growth above all else.
Challenges can be presented or self-generated. However they present themselves in my life, my goal is to face them and learn from them. Since 2015, I have been confronting the special challenges of my mother’s aging process. It is a delicate and difficult situation for her as well as her children. It is a part of the human experience. As we become elderly, the likelihood of our needing support from those around us increases. Typically, we look to our children, who are likely middle-aged (around ages 40 to 60). I am 42. My sisters are 48, have children and are experiencing being in the sandwich generation, having to provide care to their children and parents. With the pandemic, the situation has only become more stressful for them.
Back to my younger friend, who, in her twenties, has yet to but will likely experience the challenges that come with parents aging. Our conversation took place just three days ago. Since then, I’ve spent time pondering about the other challenges I have faced since we met: issues related to fibromyalgia, dealing with seasonal affective disorder, working through likely C-PTSD, rebuilding financial stability after being mostly unemployed for 6 years, and choosing to be in a romantic relationships that included narcissistic abuse.
Those last two points were completely self-generated. So, I’d like to address them.
Yes, I am dealing with the fallout from a 10-year-old decision to leave my position as a full-time employee, move to Italy, and become a full-time student. There are many reasons why I made the decisions, some relating to health, some relating to relationships, and some relating to fear. I do not regret it.
Looking back, would I have made the same decision? Yes. However, I would have gone about the process differently. Thus, I gladly accept the responsibility of rebuilding my professional life and financial wellbeing, and I am enjoying the process of doing so…even if the path is not always easy or clear.
For all the knowledge I have related to psychology, it is true that I have not always chosen relationships that promoted mental and emotional wellbeing. I admit that I have not had clear and healthy personal boundaries. It is easy to find an answer as to why by looking at my childhood. However, my goal is to look forward. I know my past fairly well. I’ve spent decades unraveling it. So, the work now is setting boundaries within self and with others. The challenge for me is learning that I don’t have to deal with abusive behavior just because I am used to it. I can walk away from it. It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but the most important part is: I am here now.
I’ve been hibernating for several years, silently listening to the passing time. I’ve been busy rebuilding my inner strength and outer resources. I am not where I aiming to be. I am, however, much farther along the path than when my younger friend met me.
So, to my younger friend, thank you for your question and concern. Your question positively provoked me to this craft this response.
My life of so many challenges is one that leads me to continue my self-exploration and healing. It would be and will be great when there are fewer. For now, I gladly face each that life presents.