Time has been slipping away from me. At night, I glance up at the clock and see 4 AM glowing back at me. I arrange to meet a friend, and realize that it’s been over a year since we last spoke. I look to the future and see that my time here in Vancouver is dwindling, almost gone. And somehow, I didn’t notice it happening.
I think this warped sense of time has something to do with an overarching feeling of static. I often look back to the past couple of years and feel that my life has been put on pause. That I’ve been treading water, waiting. Waiting for the waves to still, for my strength to return, for intervention of any kind.
I have worked hard, certainly, I have fought, but it has felt as though I’m fighting to keep breathing. Not fighting forwards. Not moving forwards.
And now, I see an end date in site. I am planning to enter a university program next year. A life. Commitments.
I feel ready. Well, that’s not quite true. I feel confident that I have learned what I can from my current set up. I have learned how to manage flares, I have learned important steps to incorporate into my daily routine. I have learned the skills to manage my condition.
I also feel terrified. I want to move forward with my life. But once I press the start button, there will be no chance to regroup. Deadlines, responsibilities, and schedules will once more become regulating features in my life. And I am desperately trying to prepare myself, to create a life that I can succeed in, before beginning.
These thoughts have been floating in my mind all week as I wrestle with time. Part of me wants to stop the clock, and another part is waiting impatiently in the future. And so the hours, months, years tick by, unnoticed, constantly surprising me.
But then, a few nights ago, as I splashed water over my face, I glanced up at the mirror. I saw a line across my forehead. I immediately paused and relaxed my facial muscles, wondering if it would disappear. It didn’t. I brought my fingers up, stretching the skin, but the thin dark line remained, staring back at me.
And I must say, seeing this wrinkle on my forehead made me incredibly relieved. Because wrinkles are created by life. By emotion. Wrinkles are created when one’s face moves over and over creating an emotional map. Wrinkles are scrawled markings from life itself, certifying that one has indeed, lived.
And while it feels like I have been stationary these past few years, my body tells a different story. My skin proves that I have lived. That I have felt so much, my emotions were carved out onto my forehead.
I have experienced these past few years. I have lived a different life. An unexpected life. But I have lived every day of every year since I began my adventure with chronic illness.
Maybe it feels like treading water because I have been out in the middle of the ocean, where everything looks the same. Maybe it’s an optical illusion. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just tired.
Regardless, I guess I don’t have to worry about restarting. There never was a pause. I am simply entering a new passage. A chance to learn something new, to add to the fold in my skin.
And I’m almost there.