I’ve never been much of a morning person. I was one of those kids who hid under the bed covers with a small flashlight reading a book way past the time when I was supposed to be asleep. Being an introvert all of my life, my room was my sanctuary. I had everything I needed in it to keep me content for hours. Good thing, too, because my mom could hear a feather hit a carpeted floor! Sneaking downstairs to watch television was not an option. Of course, that problem was solved once I got my own television for Christmas one year. Yes, my room had everything I needed and very often, especially during summer vacation, I would be awake until the very early hours of the morning. Of course, I would pay for that the next morning. You see, my mom was a morning person, and she believed that everyone else should be as well. There was no sleeping in allowed in our house. If memory serves me correctly, the latest I ever got to sleep was 8:00 AM. If I wasn’t up by then, she would come in, open the curtains to let the bright sunshine in, and clap her hands loudly while somewhat shouting, “Alright, enough’s enough…time to get up!” My night owl ways didn’t go away as I grew older. As a mom, during the school year, I had to be up in the morning to get the kids lunches made and get them off to school. Eventually, I homeschooled, which meant there wasn’t quite as much of a time crunch but still, I needed to be up and ready to start the day–or nothing would get done.
In contrast, my husband is very much a morning person. His alarm used to be set at 4:30 AM. He would get up, shower, get ready for work, have coffee, watch some television, and head out the door before I even opened an eye. I used to say there wasn’t enough air for two to breathe that early in the morning so I needed to stay in bed. Being on two separate schedules meant we seldom had any quality time together. He would be tired by 8:00 PM and in bed by 9:00 PM, while I was still energetic and ready to chat at 9:00. You may be able to see where this could cause some problems. Anyway, a few months ago, my husband and I started a new health journey. This meant he would need to have breakfast every morning–something he never used to bother with. Now, I suppose I could have told him to make his own breakfast, and I could have stayed in bed. But, my mom didn’t raise me that way. She made my father the same breakfast every morning for their 47 or so years of marriage. I felt as a wife, and one that didn’t work outside the home, it was my responsibility to provide meals for my husband. I know some may find that to be strange. Of course, this meant I would need to change my sleeping patterns. I have to say that while this has not been easy, it has been good in several ways. I get to see my husband at his best time of day. Before, I only got the leftovers from a day at work. I also love knowing that he appreciates my getting up with him to make him breakfast, even if that breakfast is just a protein shake. Another benefit of my transitioning to a morning person is that it has allowed me to form a habit of exercising in the morning. Experience has shown me that if I put off exercising until later in the day, I just don’t do it at all. As a person who deals with the effects of a chronic autoimmune disease, exercise is a very important part of my treatment plan. Most days that takes the form of simply walking.
My morning routine isn’t always an easy one, though. There have been many mornings that I have gotten up, made my husband his breakfast, saw him off to work, and then have gone back to bed–my body unwilling and unable to do what it needs to do. There have been many other mornings that I have had an intense inner battle in my head about whether I could actually get into my van, drive to the gym, and walk for 40 minutes. Many, many mornings, I just want to throw in the towel and give in to what this disease has done to both my physical body and my mind.
This morning was one of those mornings. The holiday weekend took a huge toll on me. Hours spent on my feet preparing an Easter meal left me in tremendous pain by last night. Nothing I tried alleviated that pain. I finally took extra medication and painfully headed to bed in hopes that a night of rest would be the answer. Unfortunately, when my alarm sounded this morning before the sun had started its wakening journey, I was not feeling much better. I knew all I had to do was tell my wonderfully understanding husband that I couldn’t get out of bed. He would have turned off the light and told me to go back to sleep. The inner battle started again. Do I give in to the disease? Do I let it win? Or do I force myself to get up and follow through with what I said I would do, knowing I would, as always, pay for it the rest of the day? This battle gets tiring. It’s constant. It forces me to choose between the lesser of two evils every day. Each day, I fee I get closer to just giving up, to just letting the disease win. There are more days now that I do just that then there were two years ago. I guess that’s the nature of a progressive illness–as it gets worse, it gets harder and harder to fight. This morning, though, I did fight once again. I forced myself to get up, get dressed, make my husband breakfast, and head to the gym for my morning walk.
Again, I find myself hating what this disease has done and is doing to me. I hate the depression that has gripped my life as I fight to be the person I was just three years ago…a fight that on most days, I lose. At the same time, though, I want to be thankful that I am still able to walk at the gym most days. It is the tension between those two contrasting emotions that wage war in me nearly every hour of every day.