When I was seven-years-old, a doctor told me I probably wouldn’t live to be eighteen.
I don’t know why he told me that. Sure, my diabetes was severe, but not untreatable. I do know his prognosis had a profound effect on me. I’ve had a lot of health issues, and the idea of getting well has been like an unattainable dream. In my mind, it’s an even further stretch than becoming published. Because of this fatalistic mentality, I’ve never really taken my health seriously. I’ve been allergic to gluten for eight years; I’ve only recently been 100% gluten free for almost three months. I know exercise is vitally important, but every exercise regimen I have ever started hasn’t lasted a week. It’s hard to care about your long-term health when subconsciously you don’t expect to ever get there.
I didn’t recognize the power of those few words until many years later. Now I can look back and see how my subconscious sabotages can be traced back to that one moment that is burned into my memory. I can’t remember anything else about that day, not even what the doctor looked like, just those words echoing in my mind.
I remember on my nineteenth birthday finally realizing that I had outlived my expiration date. It was a great feeling, but it wasn’t strong enough to reverse the seed that had been planted and sown over the past ten years. Our internal processing is filled with voices whispering at us. The problem is, that after a while, those voices start to sound like our own, and we listen. “Every time you solve one health problem, another pops up; why not just live with the curse you know? You’ll never be healthy, so things like exercise and eating well won’t make a difference. With your health record, you still probably won’t live that long.”
We need a gardener to come in and trim back the overgrown weeds to find the sapling underneath that never had a chance to properly grow. Those weeds are often so entangled though, that it might be a painful process. Sometimes the trimming can happen slowly, with other, loving seeds planted by other people. Sometimes it happens quickly, with fire, something that rips to our roots and jars us from those habits.
Cleaning up the garden of our souls is never easy, though there is a Gardener who’s skilled and precise in His work so we are safe in His hands.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~Phillipians 4:13
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2
But remember this–you had no control over the seeds that were planted in your heart, only on how you will shape your garden now. Words are powerful. They soothe hurts and cut deep. Be aware of the words you sow. You never know what you may be planting.
What seeds were planted in your heart by someone else? Were they seeds that nourished your soul, or weeds that have held you down? Do you fall into patterns based on those seeds? If you were able to identify the source of some negative patterns, how did you uproot them? I love hearing from you!
–I also have an announcement regarding Elemental Magic. I want to apologize for the extended wait of its release. It’s mid-October now, and while I had hoped to release it at the beginning of this month, there have been a few delays due to the cover art not being completed on time. I’m very sorry that I couldn’t make the deadline I set for myself, but it is out of my control. I hope to have news for you all soon, but I am still waiting on the cover art.–
What an amazing post. I absolutely related. I am not sure I have as distinct a memory as you but I do know that throughout all of my teenage years and into my early and mid 20s, I was convinced I was “broken” on the inside and that I always would be. I was crazy and I’d never be or feel normal. No one would ever love me. No one would ever understand me. I was destined to be alone and feeling in constant upheavel.
In going through my divorce in my late 20s and coming into my 30s, I reached a breaking point that was the catalyst to help me realize for the first time ever that how I felt and thought about myself was having a direct impact on who I was and the choices I made. And more than that, those things were a choice! They were things I could actually control! I could choose to see myself different and therefore BE different. I didn’t have to be “defined” that way any longer. And so I did – I made a decision to see myself and think of myself as healthy! And the moment I did, my life completely changed! And it’s been uphill ever since.
I wrote two posts myself about the topic if you are interested in having a read:
I hope you’ve come to realize that you ARE healthy and that you ARE worth investing in your overall health and well being! Whether we are on earth for a day, a year, or a hundred years, we all deserve to feel and live with 100% joy and fullfillment!
Fantastic post – thank you so much for sharing!
Natalie, I am definitely starting to learn that for myself. I am only trapped as far as I let myself be. I will check out your posts, and thanks for sharing your journey. 🙂
What an amazing post, Angela! Diabetes is such a scary disease and dealing with it from childhood would be really tough.
Fatalistic attitudes are toxic, that’s for sure. I hit a wall when I had my car accident two years ago. It made me question everything about myself and I had a lot of guilt to deal with. But I also realized it was time to take charge of my own life.
Thanks for sharing your story!
Stacy, toxic is exactly what it is. I only wish we didn’t have to go through such emotionally wrenching experiences to realize it. But it does make the journey back and the triumph all the more inspiring. 🙂
I have to wonder what kind of physician would issue those words (and sow those seeds …) – and to a seven-year-old! Shocking to say the least! Developing a fatalistic attitude from that experience is understandable but I hope your faith has overtaken that demon. I can’t imagine the strain of living with the health issues you have but I truly hope you can now welcome each day for the gift it is.
Hey Patricia. Yes, my mother was furious. It is a struggle, but one I’m working on. At least I don’t have to face it alone. And reading all your guys’ comments makes me want to try even harder. 🙂
I was thinking the same thing as Patricia. I’m angry just hearing about it.
I hope all goes well for you.
You have a very nice blog here. I can see that nice people come by it. BTW, I tried this very same visual theme out for myself and couldn’t get it to look right. The cat on the bookshelf really makes it work!
Thank you, Learner. I love your blog header too. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Excellent post Angela and we’re blessed you’ve proven that physician wrong!
Thanks, Raelyn. 🙂
I am so glad you passed the expiration date… goes to show not all docs are correct. I can only imagine what sort of impact that would have on your life… not good I’m sure.
“That which doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.” It’s not always easy to believe that, but I value the personal insights I gain from hard experiences.
But let’s not forget what Nile’s Krane said on Frasier: “Not everyone makes it into that second category.” 😦
I’m glad you did.
Gosh, what a terrible thing to say to a child!! I think we can all be guilty of underestimating the power of our words on others and, who knows, maybe the doctor thought he was giving you a warning to eat healthy (eg “If you don’t do X you won’t live past 18”) and all the child-you heard was “expiration date.” Or maybe I’m just being kind to the doctor because I cannot fathom someone being so irresponsible as to say something like this to a seven year old. My father was a counsellor and therapist, and I remember him telling me many years ago that the way our brain works is that to simply balance out one negative comment about ourselves, we need to hear 10 positive comments of equal value. That’s the power of criticism or negativity on the human brain, it’s the way we’re wired and why we can take criticism so deeply to heart, while shrugging off compliments (probably a lesson for authors in there somewhere). An uncle of mine was once given six months to live, but he mis-heard the doctor and thought he was cured (I don’t know how he managed to get it so spectacularly mixed up, I often wonder). Point is, he lived another happy, healthy 18 years, blissfully unaware that he was supposed to be dead. I take my hat off to you for your courage and dedication to overcoming those early, destructive words, and embracing life with love and faith.
Wow, that’s some ratio, Naomi. There’s a lesson in that for everyone, though yes, authors should pay attention. 😉 That is an amazing story about your uncle. The power of the mind truly is incredible.
I can’t believe your doctor would tell you something like that when you were seven, but huge congrats for living past your expiration date! You should cherish every single day. Can’t wait to see the cover art~!
Thanks for stopping by, Sheenah! I can’t wait for the cover art too. 😀
Angela, I was really impressed by how you related your personal battle with physical ailments. I’m sure a lot of people want to just give up the fight when given bad news about their health. It is sad that a doctor gave you such a poor prognosis at such a young age, but I am glad you battled past it. Every day is a blessing, even if we forget that sometimes. It is hard to keep going against adversity, but one thing I’ve found is that it feels like a sweet victory when we overcome our difficulties. Keep fighting your battles and know there are people who support you, no matter what some silly doctor says!
Thank you, Susan. This community really is an amazing pillar of support. 🙂
This is great. You’re right; we have no control over the words others say to us, and sometimes they can hurt deeply. But I’m so glad to hear you saying that we have control over our responses. Go get ’em. And congratulations on being completely gluten-free for 3 months!
Thanks Alina. 😀
You are so much stronger than you think you are. I can see it in your writing, in your blogs, comments on others’ blogs, emails, etc. There is a quiet strength about you that I truly admire.
That doctor should be slapped – hard. How dare he tell a child she’s going to die! I totally get your behavior after that. Still, it’s hard to make the right choice even after you ‘passed your expiration date’ (Love that line!) because by then it was a habit.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you DID eat right and exercise? What would that feel like? Might be fun to find out!
Thank you, Tameri, that means a lot to me. It makes me feel like there is a reason for everything I’ve gone through, that I can use it to touch other people.
I have tried to imagine what it’d be like to feel better, but it’s always been fleeting. I’m trying again though. Being gluten-free and putting Tai Chi in my Row80 goals. This time, the accountability goes beyond my own walls!
Thanks for sharing this with us, Angela. It really does go to show the power of words and the impact they can have on a life, but also that ultimately they do not define us or our journey. I think it shows a great strength in you that despite having that weight on you all these years, you have still clearly achieved so much and have grown into a kind, talented and wonderful person.
I have to admit that negative words always stick with me more than I should let them. I was 10 when I first moved to Australia from England and was not so much teased, but noticed because of my accent and my pale skin, which I hated because I was shy and never liked to be the centre of attention. I was also quite skinny and will never forget one boy telling me I looked anorexic. I didn’t even know what it meant at the time but I understood the negative tone and for years afterwards wouldn’t wear anything that didn’t cover my shoulders in case I got told so again. I eventually got over it, but even now I find myself assuming that if someone is looking at me it is for a bad reason. All stemming from those days as the new foreign girl and one silly boy calling me anorexic!
I commend you for recognising the seeds that have held you back. After reading this it made me realise that we could all take a moment to abandon some of the negative words that have stayed with us over the years and just work towards being the best we can be each day. That’s all we can do really.
Katy, I remember you blogging a little about that experience. We’re so vulnerable as children. We’re still vulnerable as adults, but I think that has a lot to do with what we experienced as kids. We are so much more than those one-time incidents, yet they often get center stage. Thanks for sharing, and you’re an amazing person too. The little twerp didn’t know what he was talking about. 🙂
❤ I'm glad you made it past eighteen. I can say without a doubt that you are one of my best writer friends and there would be something missing in my life if I hadn't met you.
Aw, thank you Becka. Right back at ya. 😀
Thanks for sharing this, Angela. It’s a shame that even doctors can be insensitive and scar us. I hope you will find a way to defeat those fatalistic thoughts or at least kick them out of your way. I also think you have a responsibility to yourself to do the best you can with the life you were given. It’s a hard thing to do, but we must keep working at it…the alternative is no fun. I was told by my father “Why can’t you be like your sister?” so many times that I realized the person I was, in his eyes, was not good enough. I’ve struggled with that issue all my life. It wasn’t until I grew inot my 50s that I realized I’m only as good as I think I am. I can change my mind about how I see myself.
It’s tough to fight against a statement that you’ve allowed to define you, but it’s so rewarding to come out on the other side enjoying your life with fresh eyes.
I hope you live long and work at being as healthy as possible. You’re worth it, Angela.
Thank you, Marcia, I hope so too. And I hope I make it to that point much sooner than a lot of people.
That’s the way I see some of the events from my childhood and youth–as having defined who I am. Thankfully, most of it is something I accept about myself; it has actually become a part of who I am. For instance, I got picked on so relentlessly that I try to get everything just right. Not as bad as the Adrian Monk character on the TV show, but probably closer than I’d like to admit.
I could never please my dad, so I became a people pleaser in general. While I think it’s important for us to accept ourselves, including our flaws, I don’t think that’s the same as settling with them. Yes, there are things in my past that have made me who I am. Some of them I think are for the better; others put me at a disadvantage or make life harder. I can accept and love myself, but I can also work towards change. More importantly, God loves me for all of my weaknesses, and His power is made perfect in them.
[…] October (wow, almost a year ago!) I posted about outliving my expiration date. I’ve made a lot of lifestyle changes since then. I’ve been gluten free for over a year […]