‘Tis the season to be jolly and time for all to reflect on a year gone by and a year to come. Time for this old thing to reflect on another decade gone by and to look forward to a not very special 41st birthday ahead. This time last year I was chained to my library desk frantic with anxiety about upcoming exams, today I had a lovely day caring for not too poorly patients and having time for a cup of tea. I walked up three flights of stairs to get to the tea and my legs did it without protest. Tomorrow I am off and am seeing family and friends for another festive feast. Life is good.
In fact life is really good. I recently read this blog post about the realisation that you are the happiest you have ever been. Although I don’t relate to her particular situation (I was most definitely not my most happy when my children were small – too essentially selfish, too unexplainedly ill to enjoy that particular phase.), in reading it I realised I was also in that place. India Knight’s new book, which I look forward to immensely, implores women of a certain age to embrace life and look for happiness. Earlier this year I took part in the 100 days of happiness project on Facebook and realised that happiness didn’t take much looking for.
But who would have thought it? Could my 35 year old self have imagined happiness if they had been told that they would have been diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease at the age of 37 and by the age of 40 would be the owner and occasional user of a walking stick and reliant on daily injections to function properly? Unlikely, but then perhaps I could have told me all of this:
1) You will qualify as a doctor and you will be OK at it (so far) and you will enjoy it despite the sometimes difficult hours. You will love the patient contact and will enjoy having colleagues again. Many of those colleagues will be truly lovely and some will become great friends.
2) Your children will flourish. Inevitably they will cause you ongoing worry (is one too bossy and stroppy, is one too eccentric and screen-addicted?) but they will make you super proud and give every day a purpose. Unlike the relentless physical grind that you found the early years you will enjoy them being school age very, very much. And that baby who never stopped crying has become a boy who never stops loving.
3) You will fall in love with your husband again. Not that you ever stopped, but the romantic love was paused while you both wrangled tiny people and you wrangled a change of career and relentless exam pressure. He will be steadfast, kind and supportive and when you emerge from the chaos you will find the man you fell in love with still there; still wanting to feast and laugh and dance and watch True Blood.
4) You will continue to enjoy wonderful friendships. That group of old friends you just celebrated Christmas with will be the same group of friends you will celebrate this Christmas with and they are all doing well. They have had their own trials and tribulations and ill-health but they are all still here, and they all understand, love and support you exactly as you are. Plus you have also been lucky to meet many people in the past decade who also “get” you and whose friendship also enhances your life. Friendship is your life-blood and your friends should always know how importnat they are to you.
5) Family dynamics are a complex thing and this has always been an Achilles heel. But things will be less complex and you will be surrounded by love from a father who still cycles up mountains in his retirement and siblings who still put up with you despite knowing you best of all. Family life will also be enhanced as your cousins start having their own families and news of them brings you joy, especially the joy of this young man becoming two next week.
6) Your health will be OK so far. The drugs are working in the main.
So yes you will feel fat, and you will sometimes feel a bit “less abled”, and you will feel a bit guilty about being a full-time+ working mum, and you will feel stressed and you will still have MS. But above all, you will feel, and will be, the happiest you have ever been.
Happy New Year everyone.