In many respects, I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like I am going backwards in multiple aspects of my life, secondary to the significant impact of chronic illness. I think that, basically, we are all designed to feel like we are moving forward in our lives as time continues to unfold.
Feeling like we are stagnating is not comfortable. It is even more challenging to find ourselves in situations where our previous level of success has substantially fallen.
Personally, it was extremely humbling to move back in with my parents, the year that I made the difficult decision to stop working. I was happy to have the opportunity to be able to do so, but it was anything but easy. Previously, I had been living independently. I was earning an excellent salary. I spent each work day being addressed as a doctor. Now, I curiously felt like a teenager, all over again, at age 49. I found myself selling nearly all of my earthly possessions, and moving back home, a full 700 miles from where I’d been living for an extended number of years. I know that it wasn’t an easy adjustment for my parents, either. Who ever truly expects their adult child to develop a long-term disability? They had sacrificed their time and resources to assist me in reaching their goals. Seeing me unemployed was not part of anyone’s plans.
As more time has elapsed, I have actually reframed my experience of “going backwards.” In the most important ways, I have not, in point of fact, regressed at all. I will never regret having moved back home when my daughter developed more severe medical issues. I was able to take her to medical appointments. Similarly, I was thankful to have moved back home when my father became terminally ill, and passed away. I drove my mother to the nursing home every day, for three months, so that she could feed my ailing father lunch.
I continue to live with my elderly mother. I am thankful to still have her in my life, and to be able to help her. It saddens me to see her grow increasingly frail. I’ll never possibly be able to assist her as much as she has helped me, but I am trying my best to do so.
So, in fact, I have not regressed after all. I ended up right back where I started, right back where I truly needed to be all along.