“You’re a hard stick.” I hear those words each time I have blood drawn. Yesterday, after four sticks, for five tubes of blood, and a very upset phlebotomist, I found myself cheering her on, telling her she can do it, she’ll have a great day once she’s found a vein, all you need is confidence. I was determined to have her shake it off and find a vein because she was the only one working yesterday; she couldn’t pass me on to a co-worker and I was not going to come back another day, to hear the same words, “You’re a hard stick.” That’s the kind of stress I prefer to only have once a year if possible, not two days in a row. She finally found a blood-giving vein and off I went, hoping to never lay eyes on her again!
I love the term corner coach. I used it with my kids growing up. When they were nervous about a test, activity, any kind of fear before the unknown, I would encourage them on, telling them, I’ve got you, I’m your corner coach. It’s a term I’ve used with my kids, but haven’t asked for it in my own life until recently.
I whole-heartedly believe that learning to live with a chronic illness takes support. Support can come in many forms. It can be family, friends, pets, therapists, a supportive blogging community, whatever feels safe and supportive. Making changes, transformations, living with an illness, healing from trauma is a lonely journey, but as I’ve said many, many times it doesn’t have to be an alone journey.
I work very hard to accept that I’m living with an illness, I’m living with PTSD. It doesn’t define me, but it is part of what I cope with on a daily basis. With this acceptance comes doubt, nervousness, sometimes feeling defeat and extreme exhaustion. There are times when I just want to sit down in the middle of the ring, have the referee give me an 8-count and quit the fight. That’s when I need a corner coach.
There are times, when I look at my therapist and say, “I just need you to be my corner coach right now.” He gets it, says all the correct, “I’m proud of you, you can do it, you’re doing great, you’re kicking-ass kind of things. I’m then able to stand up and can get back into the ring of life again.
There are times when I say to my friends, I need you to cheer me on right now. It’s easy to trust my therapist and ask him to do that. It’s been a steep learning curve to ask my friends and family. I always had that role. The happy, you can do it, I’m right there beside you role. But I’m learning that I have to ask my friends and family for that kind of support. To infuse confidence, to see me, hear me, rest with me, hold my hand, go out and play a bit. It’s what I need right now.
I’m exhausted from eight years of complex-PTSD, but I’m stronger and determined to feel times of contentment and peace more and more in my life. One of the reasons I’m stronger is because I know I need to have corner coaches. Do you have people or animals in your life who will get you back in the ring, or sit down beside you and rest with you, letting you know that you’re okay? Do you have a corner coach?
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Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph