This week, my life turns 25 and my life with diabetes turns 11 years old.
24 (and 10) was a strange and difficult and winding year… but here I am. Loved and alive. The only thing I have room for is gratitude.
My 10th year with diabetes was the most challenging yet. It was the year I started to actually feel like a person with a chronic illness, it was the year I couldn’t just shoulder my way through highs and lows; I had to learn how to slow down. I had to learn to pay attention. I had to (I’m still definitely having to) learn how to take care of myself. Sometimes (often) what I want and what my body needs are very very very very very very different. The past year has been a battleground of body and mind–a self, divided. Now I have to do the slow and intricate and scary work of trying to be a whole person.
My body turns 25 this week and all I’ve been able to think for days is:
I love you
It’s natural to be sad and angry and scared. Chronic illness is exhausting and annoying. It can feel depressing. It can feel isolating. It can feel debilitating and overwhelming in its endlessness.
But hello, goddamn, I’m alive.
During my 24th/10th year, I climbed a lot of mountains. Sometimes by myself. I wandered through forests, swam in waterfalls and creeks and rivers and the ocean. I camped in the middle of nowhere with my friends. I saw a dozen stars shoot across the night sky in Big Sur and drove down the jagged California coast with friends from Australia and New York and England. We learned from one of our favorite writers, we wrote, we watched the Pacific Ocean churn. One evening, my friend Kelsey and I raced though the city of Richmond to make it to the best lookout spot to watch the sunset, laughing the whole time. We made it. I sat on a lot of porches with a lot of friends, got a new job, ate a lot of almond butter and Tex Mex. I took writing classes, wrote down the hardest, truest things I know and read them out loud to people who were really listening. I quit drinking and unquit drinking and semi-quit drinking again. I watched a meteor shower with my friends on pitch-black Hatteras Island. I went to a psychic who changed the way I perceive everything. I taught myself how to embroider, booked a trip to New York for the fall, and paid my rent on time every month. I read books that altered the way I see the world, then in Portland, unexpectedly got the chance to meet two of the authors and tell them how much their writing meant to me. I met people who, within weeks of knowing me, reached out their hands to help me. I said Thank You and I Love You every single day.
25 years is a long time. 11 years is a long time, 1 year is a long time.
All I want to say, over and over and over again, forever, is this:
Thank you and I love you. I am so fucking grateful for it all.