So I’m going to fast forward a year here. Dan and I received our diagnosis as carriers for SMA in March of 2015, I’ve started writing about it now because it took me this long to come to terms with my new life. I have privately journaled over the past year, I have cried more tears than I thought I was capable of, I have let go of relationships that did not inspire me and I have grown closer to individuals in my life who have amazed me with their kindness and genuine love. Probably the greatest growth I have seen is within myself. Full disclosure: I have never considered myself a particularly strong person. When people teased me in high school, my older sister fought my battles. When a stranger was rude to me for no apparent reason, I kept my mouth shut. If friends treated me poorly, I accepted it as partially my own doing and forgave first. I am someone who struggles with self-worth, I spent a great deal of time in my youth defining myself based on what other people thought of me. Depending on who I was around I would shift myself into the version I thought they would most enjoy. This is a terrible trait and one I have spent an enormous amount of time trying to improve. But over the past year, as I was forced daily to face this new life in front of me I found myself evolving into this better version of myself.
The amazing thing about this process, while defined by heartbreak and disappointment, is I have also had the opportunity to really gain perspective in life. It’s hard to feel too badly for myself that my hips are a little too wide while talking to the woman sitting next to me at the fertility clinic about how after five failed IVF cycles her husband says this has to be the last one. When a rude co-workers comments that I look especially tired this morning (something that previously would have made me feel terrible about myself, I was vain, forgive me) I just smile and continue on, she doesn’t deserve to know I spent the night dealing with Follistim induced insomnia (I SWEAR this is a real thing!) When friends drop plans at the last minute or fail to return any of my phone calls I decide they’re not worth the effort either and focus on the supportive close-knit group of people who are present in my life. I walk downstairs to a sink filled with dirty dishes and although I want to scream at my husband (sometimes I still do, because leaving dishes in the sink is a really annoying thing Dan does) I also have to recognize that this is the man who has held my hand at every doctor’s appointment, who has rubbed my feet when I’m exhausted, who has forgiven me when the hormones make me a crazy person and who has supported me through every single moment…dishes in the sink are trivial and I cannot waste my energy of such things when there are so many important other aspects of my life.
My older sister and I are obsessed with a book called “The Book of Bright Ideas”. It’s a short book, I think it would probably be classified as a young adult read, but we read it at a time in our lives when we needed to hear the words the characters spoke and it has stayed with us through our lives. There is a line in it that reads “for all those who longed to find a best friend and found it in themselves.” I think about those words often because that is what I think has happened over the past year. Before, when I was constantly defining my own self-worth based on others opinions of myself it was because I failed to recognize my own strengths as an individual, I did not recognize what was “good” in me. But after all of this, after letting go of dreams, after gaining perspective, after genuinely surprising myself with my ability to simply keep going…I admit I do feel slightly thankful for what has happened in my life. I think you can only be your ‘own best friend’ if you genuinely like yourself, and for the first time in my life I truly do. I have grown into a much better version of myself and I am optimistic this version of myself is going to be a much better mother than “gold dress Meghan” ever would have been.