The White Horse Theory (Featuring Prince Charming, and the Worst/Best Thing I Ever Realized)

You know those days where you wake up, and you somehow miraculously look like you gained ten pounds, and your hair is flat, and every positive physical feature you have has decided to take the day off? You don’t have to answer that. Unless you’re Meryl Streep, (in which case, i’m SO sorry for even asking, your majesty, thank you for gracing my blog with your presence,) you know exactly what i’m talking about. The days where you accidentally turn on your selfie-facing camera instead of your regular one and audibly gasp at that swamp creature staring back at you. Nobody is immune to monster-face days. Nobody.  So you’ll all be able to relate to what i’m about to say, auto-immune problems or not. Read on.

The semi- honest among us will admit that we experience monster-face days. The truly honest among us will admit that we have monster-face months. Hell, most of us have had monster-face years. Regardless of the stretch of time, ALL humans (except Meryl,) experience segments of their lives where they feel inadequate, and insecure, and out of control. Whether it was dialing an ex after a particularly lonely viewing of “Titanic,”  or crying in the shower (shut up, you’ve all done it,) or staring in the mirror and actually feeling angry at your reflection, we’ve all tasted a little bit of rock bottom. We’ve all been there.

Now as a general pattern one thing i’ve noticed we ALL do (myself very much included,) is pin our unhappiness, and all of our future happiness, on one external thing. I call it “The White Horse Theory.” We revert to Disney princesses waiting for something to rescue us.  Weight, money, relationships, college acceptance, health, social acceptance…choose your poison.  It’s the waiting game. I can’t feel happy or secure or confident until i get/become *insert goal of choice here.*  I don’t mean to be dramatic, but unfortunately, most people are stuck in this  “waiting game,” till they die.   We promise ourselves that once we lose the weight, we’ll feel all secure, and radiant, and confident. Once we land the promotion, we’ll be validated. Once we find the soul-mate, we’ll feel complete. Once i get *insertname*’s approval, i’ll finally feel like this was all worth something.  Someone, someday, is gonna swoop in and make me complete. Something, somehow, is going to make me feel secure. Whether it be the guy (see my post: Fifty Shades of No Thank You,) the girl, the job, the scale- number. We vow to ourselves that once we hit some external goal, life can REALLY start. But until then, we’ll just keep waiting. And feeling insecure. Quietly making ourselves promises, and then waiting some more. And during the entire waiting process, we feel like sad, lonely hermit crabs who do not want to be seen. Because we’ve convinced ourselves that the reason we feel so incomplete, the reason we feel so insecure, is that we haven’t reached that goal yet. And that goal is our ticket to happily ever after. Inevitably, we get stuck in a downward spiral of self-loathing when we don’t immediately accomplish our goals, and it starts all over again.

CUE THE LUPUS MAGIC.

Now lupus is the epitome of monster-face days. Oh yes. Prednisone makes you sweaty, and your hair gets thinner, and some days your eyes are a weird color. Sometimes you’re super bony-skinny, and sometimes your super swollen, and neither extreme feels cute.  So obviously post diagnoses, i threw myself into this insecurity whirlpool.  “Once i feel healthy, i’ll be myself again. Once my face is less puffy, i’ll feel confident. I’m going to work out, and read studies, and do everything right. One day i’m going to feel like a confident badass again. Until then, i am going to hide in this room so nobody can see me until i have deemed myself flawless enough for the public eye.” So i waited.

and waited.

and waited.

Like an insecure 12 year old standing on the corner of the dance floor cause she didn’t want to be called brace-face.

juuusttttt waited.

and then i realized something. Something that sounds wildly depressing, but was actually the most freeing thing I’ve ever realized. Achieving goals is much less in our control then we think it is. Sometimes you can give it all you got, you can follow every rule, you can push as hard as you can, and you still won’t get what you were fighting for. Pretty bleak, right? But here’s what that (horribly depressing,) realization lead me to…if i waited until i looked/felt how i wanted to to enjoy life, i was surrendering all of this time i could potentially be using to laugh and hike and connect with people. For all i knew, i’d never be un-puffy again. Was i giving up being happy forever?  I realized that my behavioral patterns were akin to that of a high school girl, waiting in my room for the boy to call me so i could feel whole. I was Rapunzel, waiting for prince charming in my ivory tower. I was pinning my entire life on something that i had limited control over. 

It’s stupid to wait until you’re the dress size you love to buy the dress you love. It’s stupid to wait until he calls you beautiful to believe it. It’s stupid to wait until you look like Beyonce to act like Beyonce. You have no idea when OR IF those things are going to happen. We waste so much time hating what we are. This isn’t to say throw in the towel on what you’ve been working towards, goals are really important. It’s just that  what i’ve learned from being the sicky is you don’t control the results.  So i decided that instead of choosing to work towards results, i was going to choose something else. Something harder. I kept the goals, but fighting for them wasn’t so much about actually getting there anymore. It became about learning to enjoy the ride.

You control the journey. I know, journey is a really lame word, but hear me out. Again, this isn’t to say that goals aren’t worth having, they are. Goals are what make us human. But life doesn’t start after you achieve your goals, life is the space in between them. And you can either spend that time waiting, and moping, and torturing yourself because you haven’t hit your target yet, or you can…well…you can be a badass. You can laugh at your failures and let them push you to try again. You can use your weakness to make you relatable.  You can let your frustration give you a voice.  All that time where you’re waiting and hitting yourself in the head for not being perfect? That’s when life is supposed to be happening.  But if we force ourselves to wait until we’ve achieved our goals to start living, to start being confident and loud and OURSELVES, we  cheat ourselves out of so much time. We cheat ourselves out of so much happiness. I am an 18 year old, tired, puffy-eyed  girl going through steroid-withdrawal. I don’t start school again till September, my gym game is way off, and almost all of my friends are in a different country. I don’t look as adorable as i usually do. I can’t do as much. But this part of the ride is as real as the healthy parts are, and damn it, i am going to enjoy it.

Stay Badass,

Leah

Fifty Shades of No Thank You (A thank-you note to my Lupus.)

I always hated the term “falling in love.” Now bear with me, dolls, this movie/book review is deeply saturated with autoimmune goodness, just wait.  I will get there.

Now I love love. I think love is awesome. This is not a jaded, angry, anti-hollywood post. This is just a problem i always had with semantics. “Falling,” never sounded like a good way to approach love. As i saw it, “falling,” is a result of tripping, and “falling in love,” just sounded like stumbling over your own insecurities and into the arms of whoever would be willing to catch you. To love should be something you choose, and “falling,” is not a choice. “Falling,” is for those who are shaky, and out of control. That is NOT how you want to enter a relationship. I was not game for the whole losing solid ground, being slammed downward in a death-spiral by gravity thing… But then i realized something. I know a lot of really brilliant, deep, independent people who are in love. They fell. They are not stupid, or insecure, or weak. But they did the whole “falling,” thing. How is it, that all of these badass individuals, who i respect so much, fell subject to the whole stumbling-tripping, falling process? Weren’t they focusing? Why did they trip?! And then it hit me.  Tripping isn’t the only thing that leads to falling…

You can also jump.

Now i know this seems like a pretty small realization, but for me, it changed my entire perception of “falling,” for someone. The people to whom I’m referring didn’t fall because they stumbled, they fell because they met someone who made them so excited about life, about their own potential, that they felt brave enough to jump for it. Jumping leads to falling, too. But falling because you jumped is the good kind of falling. It’s the kind of falling you choose.

So where am i going with this psychobabble? Very nice leah, you made up a cute analogy. 332 words later, your sparklemouse readers now have a cute little metaphor. Woohoo? Not to worry, dolls, this is where the badassing begins.

In the book “50 Shades of Grey,” we meet Anastasia Steele, a mousy, nervous, “accidentally” sexy young woman who’s supposed to be a relatable portrayal of all us normal ladies out here.  Now after a chapter of us reading about her insecurities, (her thighs are too slim, her eyes are too large, and her hair is too “tousled and messy,”…yup mhmmm that’s totally what i’m insecure about too, ana. Kindly shut your face,) we watch her meet the dazzling, famous, exciting, psychological disaster zone by the name of Christian Gray. As she falls deeply in love, (the tripping kind, not the jumping kind,) with this man, she begins to uncover his latex and leather coated past. You all know the story. I don’t have to get into specifics, but it involves whips, chains, and alot of really, really mentally unstimulating conversation (not to mention grammatical errors to make any bibliophile, or third grader, cringe.)

Grey is what today’s society deems the ultimate romantic find. He took boring, plain, tiny anastasia, and allowed her to play a supporting role in his big glamorous life. (Did we not JUST do this with twilight?) Oh yes, ladies of 2015. According to what we’ve (whether intentionally or not,) crowned as the love stories of our generation, the ideal relationship involves being swept away from your own boring life and absorbed into someone else’s cooler one. Emotional stability? Lame. Mutual respect? No thanks. All we’re told to want by society is to hitch our wagons to a super shiny star. Edward Cullen. Christian Grey. The literary studs of our time.

In real life though, we all know this is the kind of boy we need to avoid, right? RIGHT?! No girl in her right mind would ever tolerate someone so controlling, so tirelessly disrespectful, so incredibly possessive  outside the pages of her books….right? Wrong. I’ve seen this exact culture weighing in on so many of my friend’s perceptions of what they need and it’s TERRIFYING. We are blurring the lines between whats sexy and fun to read about vs. what we actually need to live happy, fulfilling lives.

Now let’s play a little scenario game, shall we?

Let’s tweak Anastasia steele, in one teennnyyy tiny way. Same big eyes, same mousy demeanor, same rockin bod that she keeps saying positive things about, while pretending they’re negative (damn my embarrassingly glowy skin!) Let’s just give her one tiny thing. Five little letters. Let’s give her lupus. If it’s more your cup of tea, we can give Bella Fibromyalgia or R.A…whichever. Imagine her telling Christian Grey, in her husky voice, that she has an autoimmune disease. SCREEECCHHHH. Hear that? that was her whirlwind romance screeching to a reality-induced halt. Do we think his reaction would be the supportive, loving reaction a good badass needs to thrive? Do we think he’d care about smith numbers and SED rates and white blood counts? Do we think he’d remember which kind of organic strawberries she likes for her smoothies, or what time she wakes up for yoga, or what day she takes her methotrexate and can’t move? No. He would not. Because boys like Christian and Edward are really fun TO PLAY PRETEND WITH. But when it comes to real life, they are paper. Flimsy and one- dimensional. That’s why they only thrive IN BOOKS. REAL GIRLS NEED REAL BOYS. Because, brace yourself, ready for the kicker? At the end of the day we’re ALL going to be focusing on things like that, autoimmune problems or not. Not just the sickies. Doctors appointments and scans and groceries and health are what MAKE UP LIFE. These are problems we’re all going to have to deal with, the only difference being those of us pushed out of our fairytale youth a bit early (by disease,)  have to deal with them NOW. But most people aren’t thinking about REAL things like that when hitching their wagon. Oh no. Most people think about what the books tell them they need to love. This is why I AM SO THANKFUL FOR MY LUPUS.

what did she just say? What. Did. That. Crazy. Ass. Blogger. Just. Say. THANKFUL?! Thankful for this craptastic disease that makes you think about your mortality? This disorder that forces you to grow up way before you should have to?
You heard me right dolls. I am thankful every, single day. Here is why.

The first time post diagnoses i was into a guy, i had no idea when i should tell him. Should i tell him? Do people want to date the sick girl? Is he gonna panic when I’m at doctors for problems he’s never even considered? Am i going to be a burden? Am i too much? Pleaaase don’t let this make him run for the hills.  And then it hit me. There’s only one way to find out. You drop the bomb. You just say it. “Oh, by the way, i have an autoimmune disease called Lupus.” What you can see in that minute, in that flash in their eyes, will tell you so, so much about this boy’s life skills. You heard it here first ladies and gents, lupus is a TOP NOTCH filter for the dating pool. Because the people who will want to be with you, bloodtests and all, are the same kind of people who will wake up to take care of your screaming baby in the middle of the night. They’re the same kind of people who remember to take out the garbage, and Tivo the Oscars for you, and call you beautiful even when you have puffy lupus face. They are the gems that 18 year old you overlooked, and 30 year old you will fantasize about. These are the anti- Cullen/Grays. These are not paper boys. These are the REAL ones. And you have a secret weapon to finding them.

Speaking from personal experience, having my disease has stopped me from hitching my wagon to “stars” that i am now SO THANKFUL I AM NOT STUCK WITH. I’m not waiting around for someone to take me into a big leather room of pain (that actually sounds like a nightmare,) or take me away into a life of eternal, immortal, vampire bliss (also, kind of a nightmare.) Nope. Lupus has taught me, with it’s bitchy, honest voice, to wait for other things. For patience, and kindness, and depth. For compassion, and emotional strength, and psychological stability. For respect, and love, and someone who is willing to SACRIFICE for the person he loves. Someone who understands that Methotrexate day REQUIRES that grey’s anatomy be recorded and the freezer be stocked of Gluten Free ice cream. Someone truly badass.

And for that, Lupus, i am forever in your debt.

But not for the hair loss. I am not in your debt for that, you jerk.

Stay badass,

Leah