Friday, April 11, 2008

P.M.S. (Post Multiple Sclerosis, that is)

I divide my life into befores and afters. Before and after sobriety. Before and after children. And now, before and after MS.

I mentioned to Liz recently that a particular night out with Ken happened before I was diagnosed. We got dressed up and went out to dinner at Nancy and Said's restaurant (Alia in Winthrop--it's awesome!) and then we met Theresa at Vincent's in Randolph to go dancing. While I always have fun dancing at Vincent's, I get the feeling that it's filled with all the people who used to roam Landsdowne Street with big hair in the late me. They grew up, moved to the burbs, got divorced, and now go to Marshall's on Saturday mornings to get a new outfit to wear out to Vincent's when their kids are with the other parent. Theresa and I went to the same Marshall's apparently, because we both showed up wearing the same exact dress. And, we're not talking about a nondescript little black number. This was a lime green psychedelic print dress. Theresa said we looked like bridesmaids and went home. I was disappointed and so was Ken. He was looking forward to dancing with two beautiful women dressed in identical outfits. Sort of a Gordon Knight and the Pips scenario.

But I digress.

I remember the timing of this night because I remembered how "light" I felt. When I think back to Pre-MS, I remember a carefree feeling that isn't here anymore. That's not to say I'm never happy or serene. I'm just weighed down slightly. It's like the knowledge of MS is always there and it's substantial...notable.

I'm still in the acceptance process so maybe those sensations will pass. Or maybe not. I can't return to a time that I felt invincible when I know I'm not. I'm also not sure I want to return to Pre-MS Julie. Don't get me wrong: I want a cure, really, really bad. I just don't want to lose all that I've gained with the awareness of MS and my vulnerability.

There was a naivete that's gone now. With it went a lot of fear and caution, too. I wanted to be be a creative nonfiction writer but I wasn't writing (besides work which doesn't go very deep). I wanted to move but I was still living in the same town. I wanted to be a woman who took care of myself but I often put others' needs before my own. PMS Julie is not exactly fearless (and according to anonymous blog readers, I'm also kind of whiny, overly-serious, and negative, too) but I am authentic. I am who I am. I feel what I feel. I am living my life fully right now, instead of looking back and trying to figure it all out. I am willing to risk sharing emotions that I know will pass. I'm not processing in private and then impressing everyone with my growth. I'm trying to grow in real time so I can make connections with others who are also working through it all--people with and without MS.

Along with that authenticity comes the understanding that I may not always be liked or respected for my feelings and opinions and some people may even try to use them against me. You know what? I don't care! I have something to say and I want to say it even if it's not popular or understood. That is so freeing! I've spent my whole life caring (less and less the last decade or so) and MS took a big chunk away in one fell swoop. At 43, I finally realize that the whole world doesn't have to like me and I don't want to expend my energy trying anymore. Thank you MS!


  1. Authenticity is something which I have been pondering lately. I thank you for writing this post.

  2. J-
    What an amazing post. I have been following the Blog...just not commenting. Congrads on the new job. This post was so insightful and right on. I sometimes long for the pre MS days... carefree and no worries. Mu MS has given me perspective and clarity in what is important in life, both mine and others.

  3. It's so wonderful to have this blog to express myself and it is incredible beyond belief when it touches someone else enough for them to comment. It makes me feel so CONNECTED (a sure cure for isolation and depression). Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting, Lisa and TM.