I always considered myself a resilient person with the ability of turning adversity around. I was resourceful, quick and quite a pistol my entire life. That is ... until TMJ (a pretty severe case) knocked me off my feet with huge lessons that took me to lengths of growth I never saw possible. Prior to this disorder, my definition of strength came from the inner city survival of the fittest mentality. Being strong meant being tough. Even though my mom was a therapist and my family members were devout Christians, I found the coping mechanisms of my urban surroundings a lot more appealing. And I'm not talking about the crazy behavior we see on the web. I'm talking about the guarded, aloof, don't mess with me, no time for nonsense demeanor that pushes people away enough for you to get things done, if that makes sense. For many things, it did serve a purpose. I applied much of my tenacity towards my education and (later) my museum career. There was just no such thing as no. And for that, being tough was necessary if I wanted to pursue bigger and better things for myself.
However, when life really started to happen (motherhood, marriage, divorce, cross-country move, career change), I can't say I was prepared to deal with the emotional roller coaster that comes with so much transition. Being tough no longer served me. Holding in so much and having no outlets eventually manifested itself into a chronic pain disorder. My body had had enough with me. I had to learn how to healthily cope with life's situations.
Related: My TMJD Story
This past week, I dealt with a few annoying (but final stage) symptoms that challenged my patience. But I had to remind myself of how far I've come. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. The pain I carried in me for years had found itself a home in my muscles, joints and bones. When I was able to release what was going on inside, the rest of my body was able to truly start the healing process. The symptoms I still deal with today are residual, and a reminder that I'm not done yet. None of us are done yet. We're all in a continual journey of learning and growing. Some get it. Some don't.
When all of my senses were impaired, I had no choice but to "get it." TMJ is officially my guru. To keep myself in check, I pulled out this beautiful book. Isn't the cover just perfect? It's my new journal where I plan to share all the small and big miracles that happen in my life, including my pinnacles of growth. I still have that 'no time for nonsense' demeanor but it's so much more balanced with compassion, empathy and patience for others, myself and Mr. TMJ.
I would love to end my post with the usual hope that you're having an amazing weekend, but my heart is so heavy right now (as I'm sure yours is too). I can't pray enough for all the lives that have been affected by all of the recent terrorists attacks. It's so tragic and incomprehensible. All I can do is hug my son tighter and hope/pray that we can find peace.