I have a student in my class who has had a hard life. A very sad life. Today, he got in trouble with the Principal. After being released from the "warden", he came in to my classroom, tears rolling down his red cheeks. He walked right over to me, arms outstretched and hugged me.
Hugged me! This might not sound so odd, except that this is a young boy who has built a hard shell around himself. So, I hugged him and gave him the best pep talk that I could muster. It's a blur all that I said (rheumatoid fog), but I ended with this: People will disappoint us, things in life will not happen as we hoped and planned. Sometimes we will fall down. There will be times when it seems like we are always falling down, and that's okay. What builds character, is how many times we get back up after each fall. Every time we bounce back, we get stronger and grow more.
I thought about my student today, about the hard shell he built around himself. It reminded me of myself, and many people I know who have Rheumatoid Arthritis, who are chronically ill, and/or who have been through a lot. When I first discovered I had RA, it was a "fall down" moment, indeed. But what got me back up, was the fact that after 3 years of not knowing what was wrong with me, I now had a diagnosis and a medical plan that would help me get better. Bounce back. Then the questions started. Fall down. I answered as best I could. Bounce back. The silly comments and suggestions come. Fall down. I have learned to forgive and laugh it off because I know they are uninformed. Bounce back. It's a cycle. Our illness is nothing but a cycle-a roller coaster if you will, isn't it? Having a good day (or dare I say two). Feeling pretty good, when out of know where, BAM! FLARE! The flare generally happens at the most inopportune times, of course! Fall down!
Here, at this very moment, I have discovered that I have a choice. Do I remain down, or do I bounce back? RA changed me, caused me to build a shell around me-just like my student. Today made me realize how similar we really are-how there are times I have outstretched arms looking for that hug from anyone willing to support me. Today, more than ever, made me see the importance of bouncing back. RA has affected my body, but it does NOT have to affect my mindset and attitude! At least THAT, I have control over! What will you choose? Will you choose to bounce back? :)
Hugs! Keep bouncing...and keep the Sunny Side Up!!