Monday Reflection: When Life Knocks You on Your Ass
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
September 30, 2010
This article originally appeared on September 20 on Rae's Web site, Diva Living With AIDS.
Sometimes life knocks you flat on your ass. It's not one thing but the sum total of it all. Lately, that's what it's been like for me in a nutshell. Just feeling knocked down and having a hell of a time trying to get back on my feet. I will admit that any one thing in my life would have been enough to knock the average person down. But I'm not average in the least bit. Never have been. Even as a little girl being beat until my young body cried with welts, I was determined to hold on to the joy that comes from within. The thing that comes from God and rests deep within.
So if I admit to being knocked down then it's big. And I've got to admit, I've been in a funk. Feeling overwhelmed about my life and all that it is. My health has been a freaking thorn in my side. More obtrusive then normal, reminding me of the days of yesteryear when AIDS was an absolute death sentence and you prayed for T-Cells. I have clearly taken a hit. This stomach virus has yet to go away. And the longer it stays, the longer I have to stay off my HIV medication leaving my body vulnerable to that bitch of a virus.
I am hopeful that this will be my last week on this drug holiday. Hopeful, but then that's even with mixed emotions. Once back on the medication, I have to readjust to the side effects all over again. There are five medications in my HIV cocktail but the two with the worst side effects are Norvir and Isentress. So here were go. Isentress causes fatigue and severe headaches, Norvir causes nausea, diarrhea and fatigue. So understand this, I got off my medication so my body could become normal again to be able to tolerate the side effects of the regimen. And then we pray that I haven't developed a resistance to this combination. It's all so much to think about and deal with. But I know in my heart that God won't let me fail. I have to remember my history with God. Remember what He has done in my life. And remember that even now He is an actor in my life; case in point, I have breath in my body.
But this understanding does not take away the right now struggle of it all. Being sick every day and trying to keep a roof over your head is no easy task. All that it encompasses from answering e-mails, sending out packets, explaining to people why I would be the right person to deliver the message and then the actual work. Becoming valuable and transparent with the hope that it will help someone, but draining everything that I have on the inside. And what's so deep about it all is that people think that my life is glamorous and prosperous. Ministry is a lonely place, a hard life, and lately, harder than normal.
Being sick and packing a house for a move and then unpacking after a move is no easy task either. My OCD won't let me stop. No matter how hard I try to rest I still find myself up at 1:00 am trying to make my place just right. Adding more physical stress to an already stressed out body. Trying to create a private space for myself that belongs to me in this public world that I live. It's seems easy to just say rest. But the compulsion to keep moving dominates even the knowing that I need to rest.
Yes, I have a lot going on and these are just some of the issues that weigh heavy on my heart and life -- School: I am so behind in my Ph.D. program, praying that they don't kick me out; Love and friendships: those you have, those you want to have. Yes, life has a way of adding up and then weighing down on you.
Wouldn't it be nice if all the bad would just go away? But that isn't the real world. In the world life knocks you on your ass. I understand this. And in this understanding I cannot let it keep me down. I understand that the victory is in getting back up. Some people believe it's about the quickness of getting up. But then that's unrealistic too. You have to give yourself the time to process it all. To come to terms with the losses and the changes in your life. If you don't deal with that "thing (s)" it will paralyze you making the getting back up harder then the "thing(s)" that made you fall.
While I'm down, I find my strength in the memory that God's has never stopped being an actor in my life. With this understanding of God's history in my life I find comfort and understanding that the future can only be brighter. This is the thing that helps me to get back up, to not surrender to the darkness. The thing that helps me fight back one push up at a time. And in this knowing I can find the joy rooted deep down and comes from within. It does not leave you when you fall. It's just waiting on you for you to push it back up.
Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks
Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.
Rae is an active user of social media -- read "Long-Term HIV Survivor Discovers the Power of Twitter," an article on TheBody.com about Rae's social media activities.
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