Airplane Resolutions

So I’m 6 hours into my 9 hour flight from Honolulu TO Auckland and I realise I’ve probably already caught up on more movies on this plane than I have in months at home. I’ve watched “Stuber”, “Wild”, and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”.
6 hours of comedy, life challenges, and monster movies, and I’ve come to realise some things about my life.
Now, most people like to make new years resolutions…but not me. I like to make long plane ride resolutions. Why, you may ask? Well think about it… What are you most likely to keep a promise to yourself from- A night of drinking, partying, and general debauchery? OR, a really long plane ride where you’ve been forced to TRULY THINK for hours after the boredom of too many movies in a row kicks in?

I faced some really hard realities about myself and my life this decade. I’ve dealt with very difficult situations, and they have taken quite an emotional toll on my mental and physical state across the board.
I won’t share all of them here.
But I will share what going through them has taught me and how it’s helped me move forward in a positive way.

1) I forgive you.
I forgive those who have hurt me. I forgive those who have harmed me physically. I forgive those who have harmed me mentally. I forgive those who have cast me out. I forgive those who have spread lies. I forgive those who hurt me because they hurt themselves. I forgive those who have cheated on me. I forgive those who have wished me harm.
I forgive you.
And I forgive myself for holding onto the hate and dispair that I carried for so long because I could not allow myself to let it go.
But I have… I’ve learned to let it all go.

2) I’m not afraid to be alone.
I’ve spent so many years thinking that the key to my happiness was waiting for me in another person(s). But this decade has taught me that being alone and happy is so much better than being in relationships with the wrong people. Nothing is worth staying in relationships where you are undervalued, abused, disrespected, or manipulated.
I still believe in soul mates. I always have. But I now believe they don’t have to be romantic. And we can have as many as we like. It can be our family members, our friends, and strangers we meet along our journey.
I will never again settle just because I think I’m unworthy of love. I won’t settle just because I’m sick and my mortality scares me. I will be alone as long as I like because I realise I have never been more surrounded with caring people than I am now. Love takes many different forms, and I feel truly relieved to finally realise that.

3) My illness doesn’t define who I am.
It’s been 12 years since I was first diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and 7 since it turned severe. I’ve been pricked with more needles than someone should in a lifetime. I’ve been prescribed all manners of chemical warfare to irradiate an incurable disease that is destroying me from the inside out. One day, sooner than me hitting old age, I will die from this disease.
But I am an entire person without it.
I am fighting every day to make this life a little bit longer, and every day I succeed just a little bit more. I live for my passion of cooking, and song, and coffee, and cats. I live for my family and for my friends.
I live for myself for as long as I breathe air on this earth. That’s all that matters.

Good Morning Pain

Good morning Pain, Did you sleep well?

Yes? Well, not me. The humidity was a nightmare.  The sticky heat enveloped my body making it impossible to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Waking up every hour covered in a slick film of sweat, finding no relief in the fan pointed towards you, or having every window in the apartment open. Feeling so hot from inside my body that it felt like I was choking on nothing.

Good morning Pain, Did you hurt in the night?

Yes? You made every single one of the joints inflame and seize up, didn’t you? Watched as the skin around the bones grew tight and shiny, almost like there’s not enough skin to cover the affected area. My left knee swollen and enlarged, squishy to the touch, you can feel where the infected water around the joints is camping out.

Good morning Pain, Would you like some coffee or tea to start your day?

Well, you’ll have to get it yourself. My hands won’t grip anything today. I have to use dictation just to write my blogs or send a simple good morning text to my mom. I’d love to be able to pull the Keurig down from on top of the fridge, but you’ve taken the strength from my hands. They shake as I pick up something as light as my medication bottle. I’d love a strong cup of Irish Tea, but to fill my hot water jug I need filtered water from the fridge, and I don’t have strength to open the door.

Good morning Pain, Would you like some breakfast?

Well, you’ll have to skip it again today. The cereal and milk are both in the fridge I can’t open. We have canned fruit in the pantry, but my hands are too weak to open the pop top. I guess I don’t need to eat this morning.

Good morning Pain, Would you like to take a shower and get dressed?

I’m sure it will take you no time at all, for me it’s a different story. I struggle with turning the nobs to hot and cold, it’s an old building and I suspect they are a bit rusty. I must slowly and carefully climb into the shower, bending my knees are difficult, and I don’t want to slip. After getting shampoo/conditioner/shower gel out of the bottles then it’s the next task of administering them. It’s hard to lather my hair up when my hands are flat, and my arms don’t want to raise above my torso. It takes time. Shower gel on a loofah is so much easier, at least I can use something else to lather. After 15-20 mins under the cool water (hot flashes mean only cool to cold showers are acceptable) I also clean and can attempt the worst part of my day, getting dressed.

I still don’t have clean clothes, Pain. I haven’t been able to do my laundry. No summer dresses to don easily. I don’t have to leave the house today, so maybe I can find something lightweight and comfortable. Underwear first. I sit on the bed, and then must painfully maneuver one leg into each hole. This requires some bending and stooping, and I’m quite exhausted after it. I really need low maintenance clothing today. Gaucho pants in the drawer catch my eye, perfect! Loose tank top and I’m ready for my day. Which thanks to you, Pain, will just be a series of events I try to live through without hurting.

Good morning Pain, Would you like to take a walk?

You know I hurt everywhere, but my Dr says exercise is important, I must remain  mobile. I can’t seem to get my shoes on today, my feet are too swollen to fit inside my specialty stretch Skechers that’s bought for this very reason. Touche, Pain. You’re trying to win. Don’t you see how you’ve thwarted every step I’ve taken since waking? Can you let me have just one thing to enjoy today?

Okay, it has started to rain, so I will wait on my walk. I will limp (my knees won’t bend) into my living room and bypass my seemingly useless kitchen, and deliberate on the couch on what to do today. Netflix it is. I look at my body and sigh. Everything is swollen thanks to you, Pain. I won’t have a very productive day because of you, Pain. But hopefully the swelling in my hands will go down so I can hold my colored pencils and do my artwork today. Hopefully you will let me have something to hold onto in my life, Pain.

Just let me have something.



If you would like to help, please visit my campaign page where I am still accepting donations to pay for my rent and medical bills:

Christine Lilley’s Life Fund