In therapy this week, I spent the entire hour crying about the nerve pain. I told Dr. P that my biggest fear is being in pain forever. When she asked me what that would mean to me, I said that I would probably want to kill myself.
And it's true. I can't imagine any life for myself involving this pain. I can't imagine being happy with it, knowing that this is as good as it gets. And Dr. P seemed kind of incredulous at that response; that there is nothing in my life worth living for with this pain. And it sounds crazy, but I swore to her and I'm swearing to you that that is truly how I feel.
So I started thinking about all the things in my life that I want to do. To be honest, sometimes it feels like I would be A-Okay to have nothing exciting happen, nothing big or important to accomplish, just so long as I weren't in pain. I think to a certain extent that would be true. Life would be boring but bearable. But I know it wouldn't last. I would always want more. And I started thinking about all the things I want to accomplish, and would make my life worth living.
And in no particular order:
1) Write a book. As a kid my dream was to write a novel, and I've written fiction for fun before, but I think my strengths probably lie in nonfiction. I used to do a lot of work in journalism and have tons and tons of experience writing for newspapers, magazines, and websites. My reading list is currently stuffed with long-form, investigative journalism-type stuff (much of which I've critiqued on this blog), and I think my ultimate goal would be to write something based on my own research someday.
2) Learn Spanish. I studied it from age 5-18, aced the AP exam, and spent a summer in Mexico where I was able to understand basically everything and speak plenty to get by. Then in college I promptly dropped the language entirely and haven't really used it since except for a couple times (with difficulty, and only when a translator wasn't available) with a few Latin American patients at the clinic this past year. My mom speaks Spanish (and my dad speaks some Portuguese), and I think it would be a real shame if I wasted all those opportunities. So, no idea how to go about doing it, and no free time whatsoever for this impulsive project, but I would like to start relearning Spanish.
3) Fall in love, get married, and have kids. No, not anytime soon. I probably wouldn't want to get married—and definitely not have kids—before 30. But I definitely want to someday, and having my own family is one of the most important things in the world to me. And I've fallen hard in crushes and dated some really great guys, but I don't think I've ever been in love. Is it something like 'when you know, you know'? Either way, I hear it's great.
4) Do work that I love. Based on the course of study I'm in now, I have a good idea of the focus of work I'd like to do, but not the exact setting or logistics. My dad has always taught us that work is one of the most important aspects of life, and that you should always be proud of and fulfilled by the work that you do; that you should strive to make yourself indispensable in your job, and contribute to the world and to your family in some tangible and meaningful way.
Right now the only thing that gets me through the rough times is telling myself it's temporary. But I think I also need goals and aspirations and excitement about the future, because surviving is simply not enough.