The prompt today is voyage, and as I continue to make time to write here using the prompts I’m finding that I can immediately think of something to talk about that relates to each word. While my previous two entries have focused exclusively on my spiritual journey – the primary reason I started to blog – I am in fact on two journeys. One is related to growing closer to God through Anglicanism, and the other is my road to wellness with PCOS.
I was diagnosed with PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, quite recently, and have since made rather radical changes in my life to accommodate it. I have cut refined sugar and fast food from my diet, instituted strict portion control, and started an exercise regimen. None of these things has been easy, and I’m finding it difficult each and every day to maintain. It’s hard to upkeep changes that are positive in one’s life when one is surrounded by people who don’t value wellness or staying healthy. The majority of people whom I am steadily distancing myself from don’t value things like spirituality, wellness, or personal accountability. It was only when I really started hardlining the new lifestyle changes that I wanted to make – eating right, exercising, and prioritizing my faith – that I realized part of the problem I had was the company I was keeping. It’s such a cliché thing to say, but one really doesn’t realize how much of an influence the people one surrounds oneself with are until one really fights to change oneself for the better.
PCOS has made me realize that our society as a whole doesn’t seem to value the effort that is put into being, and staying, healthy. Sure, we love the end result. Our media is full of handsome, muscular men and beautiful, thin women. We are inundated daily with the message to take this pill or do that thing and we will suddenly be slender. But there is no real support system in place for the long slog to wellness. It’s not as easy as bariatric surgery and a follow-up diet. It’s getting up early, rain or shine, to do the jog. It’s forcing oneself to make the lunch that was planned whether one is feeling well or not. It’s the tears, the despair, and finally, the unbelievable joy when all of the work and the pain pan out to the muscle increase and lower fat ratio. It’s difficult. It’s so hard. And so many of us are going it alone, because we have to.
PCOS is a long voyage, where the sea is sometimes calm, and other times you are clinging to the mast and begging for relief. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and sometimes that is what makes recovery all the more insidious. Sometimes there are no immediate signs of improvement, and one begins to think that what one is doing isn’t working, so the old habits resurface and complicate everything. When all of one’s friends are going out to gorge on pizza and beer at the pub at 10pm, it can be a self-esteem hit to have to be “That Guy” and refuse, because the morning jog needs to take precedence. These are things we want to do – we desperately want to do – but for the sake of our health we have to refuse, and if we have friends who do not understand that, it can make it much harder than it has to be.
The journey to God can be like that, too. As we grow in our faith and take comfort in Scripture, sometimes we have to say no to things that sound like a lot of fun. Sometimes, we are surrounded by people who don’t understand the joy that we take in hearing the Word of God, participating in youth groups, or reciting rosaries. They don’t understand why we memorize our favourite Psalms, or why it’s worth it to wake up at 7am in order to make it to early mass. At the end of the day, we all have to make a choice in the company that we keep. Do we stay with those who don’t understand, and who ridicule our expressions of faith? Or do we seek out those who believe as we believe, and who will walk with us as brothers and sisters of Christ, encouraging us at each step?
In light of my diagnosis, and of my commitment to wellness in body and spirit, I have chosen to be selective with the people I surround myself with. Just as a devoted gardener will prune a tree of excess branches, so too have I pruned my “garden”, choosing to fill it with beautiful flowers of faith and love, and toss out weeds of negativity. I will make this voyage at sea – the spiritual, and the physical – one where I feel confident and loved amongst the crew, instead of trying to paddle alone in a dinghy.
This is my voyage, one that will last a lifetime. What is yours?