I cried from 9am to 2pm yesterday basically nonstop. I spent most of that time lying in bed staring at the closed window with tears silently rolling down my face. Occasionally, I would sob, but it was mostly still and quiet. My daughter was playing downstairs most of that time. I took time to wake her up, feed her breakfast, and feed her lunch. I did her glucose checks and insulin shots. I was quiet and quick. I tried to make small talk with her, but mostly she talked to me blissfully unaware of my suffering.
At 2pm it was time for her snack. She was getting bored and antsy from playing alone all day. She told me she was having a bad day, and at all the guilt, I began crying and angrily said I was having a bad day, too. Immediately, I felt like a shit. I sat down next to her and, after apologizing, asked her if she remembered about my sickness that makes me sad. She said she did, and I told her that I was sick, so I felt really sad. She was sorry, I was sorry, we hugged, we snuggled, and I began to recover from my 5 hour crying jag.
That isn’t really how I wanted to get past my tunnel vision, but it did the job. I felt capable of doing more than lying in bed for the first time all day. I opened the closed window I had been staring at all morning. I ate something for the first time in 24 hours. I drank some water. And I cut my hair.
I have cut my own hair several times but not for at least 7 years. I have spent the last few months dyeing my hair various colors from blond to my current black; I like to play with my hair, and I am not the type to feel distraught about imperfect hair. I’ve worn my hair super long and pixie short. But when I cut my own hair it is usually because I need to get rid of weight. Not weight of hair, but weight of mind. I need a visible change to symbolize loss or pain or freedom. My illness is invisible but sometimes I need to see the change. Self harm is one way to see the pain, and, while I DO NOT recommend this coping mechanism, I think it illustrates what I’m talking about. With an invisible illness, one can feel compelled to make it visible. I figure, hair cutting is an easy, harmless way to do this.
I am grieving. This is becoming more and more clear to me. I am selfishly grieving the loss of the life I had so carefully built to maintain my mental health. I am angry that I have to rebuild that life with accommodations for diabetes. I am angry that my child is facing this. I am afraid of the possibility of future complications, the never ending medical visits and bills. I am sad that she can’t just eat candy on a holiday like a normal kid. I am sad that my free spirited girl is tied to the need for an injection every 3 hours. I am angry that she is insulin dependent rather than just independent. I have all of these negative feelings built up over the last 2.5 months, and I have yet to really let go and label them as grief, fear, and anger. I have been in denial, doing the tasks but not accepting what they really mean.
So, in order to officially accept this new normal, ceremoniously usher in our life after diagnosis, and put away forever the before–the old normal–I cut off the weight of all the expectations I had for life before diagnosis. I pulled my hair into a ponytail, took the scissors, and cut off several inches. Immediately, I knew it had been the right decision. I feel better. I like how I look, but I really like how I feel. I will continue to grieve, I’m sure. This is a process and won’t disappear instantaneously. But I’m ready to begin accepting that things will forever be different but that I will adjust. I will get rid of the old and graciously accept the new. I will not only list off the benefits of learning through difficulty but I will believe them. I will accept that God has a plan for me and for Ada, and that our being together is not mere chance but purposeful. I will keep fighting for myself and for my daughter. I will not allow my own recovery to be stopped by diabetes.