That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 27 (The “‘How Are You Handling All of This?’ Question/What Life Is” Chapter)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

It’s Wednesday night, so the heart story continues.

Last week, I said I would pick up talking about the people who say, “How are you handling all of this?”

Let me just start with, I love people. You might not think it from all the times I constantly complain about people in this long running heart story series. But I love them. I appreciate their concern. I appreciate that they’re doing their best to show that they care. I appreciate the fact that it really must be awkward for you when an acquaintance, a friend, a whatever gets some weird life-threatening congenital heart defect, and their treatment is ongoing.

I appreciate all of that. I’ll admit that I don’t always know what to say to people when something goes wrong in their life. I always want to make it better. Of course that’s not always possible. I’m not at all going to act like I would’ve been any better.

But here comes the rant part.

(I know I’ve ranted about various things throughout this series, and had various gripes about the people (whom I love). I believe I have touched on some of the ideas intertwined in here. Sorry if I’m covering familiar ground. Hopefully some of this is new to you.)

This whole “How are you handling all of this?” drove me crazy.

One thing I know I’ve said in this blog before is that all problems are valid if they affect that person in a profound way. Think of all the problems other people were dealing with at the time – money, apartment, exercise, family, roommate – so many possible issues. (Obviously the list goes on past those things.)

They may have been asked by a couple of close friends, “How are you handling all of this?” But I was getting it all the time from everywhere.

Here was the worst part. If I would try to be honest, and talk about what was really bothering me, people would scoff at it!

My biggest stressor – the thing that drove me absolutely insane was letting go of all my jobs. I felt like I’d worked so unbelievably hard. I’d sacrificed sleep, a personal life, hobbies, vacations, my sanity, holidays with my family, and who knows what else for theater.

As I’ve also said before on this blog, when it comes to theater, nothing that I give up in favor of it is ever truly a sacrifice. Since theater is my first love, it’s hard to say I’m “sacrificing” anything, because there is no where else I’d rather be than a theater. Sacrifice is really the wrong word. I was freely giving my life to it. I was choosing theater.

Now, my life was choosing for me. As I was getting hired more and more, and getting to reap the benefits of being an incredibly proud card-carrying Equity member, the choice was no longer mine to give my life to the thing I adored.

(Don’t feel too terribly bad for me. I wasn’t on Broadway. It wasn’t the biggest moment of my career. But I’d built my momentum (which is hard to do sometimes!). Once momentum was going – ba bam! Sudden stop.)

Theater was my main stressor. Then there was running – my precious, precious running.

So when people would ask me how I was handling things, if they were really asking and wanting an answer (not just “everything is just dandy), I’d talk about the stress of not working, of not having been backstage in a theater for months.

And people would think I was ridiculous.

They’d want me to be nervous about having doctors go in my heart, or something. People would come back with, “That’s just work. This is your life.”

I’d say, “No. That is my life. Theater is my life. Theater is my heart. Theater is my soul. It’s is my love, my dream, my everything. Theater, marathons, goals, learning new things – these are the things that make a life. A beating heartbeat does not make a life. I understand that you must have a functioning body to have a life, but having a functioning body does not mean you have a life.”

I am not worried about my surgeries. (That was my feeling before every one, from small procedures to open-heart surgery.) I checked out my doctors on the internet. They were top-notch. That’s all I could do. I could research. (I did.) The surgeries were out of my hand. That was that.

Why focus on getting nervous about a surgery? I’ll die or I won’t. There is nothing I can do about it. Let’s focus on my future. Let’s make plans and goals. Let’s prepare for my life outside of the hospital.

This is where I’ll pick up next week.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?