It’s my anniversary (but it’s not what you think)

Today is my big day.

It’s not my wedding anniversary; I’m divorced. It’s not my birthday; I’m 34, the same as yesterday.

It is, however, the sixth anniversary of the day I picked up my infant son and realized I couldn’t feel the warmth of his body. I panicked, worrying that he wasn’t warm. I quickly discovered that I had gone numb on the entire left side of my body. A few days later, it spread to the right side as well. My balance, vision and immune system were affected as well.

Thousands of dollars in medical tests and multiple hospital stays yielded no answers and no cure. There wasn’t even a diagnosis. Doctors told me it could be an autoimmune ailment, like multiple sclerosis, but that could take years to develop and be visible through testing. I was sent home and told to stop worrying because it might have been a type of conversion disorder — basically, I may have stressed myself numb.  Don’t worry, the doctors said. If you did this to yourself, once you stop worrying, it will go away.

It didn’t. It does get better and worse – worse when I’m really stressed out, that is – but the numbness has never fully subsided. There wasn’t a stressful event that triggered it. The only thing I could put my finger on was Type A perfectionist personality.

Six years later, I still wrestle with not having an answer. I still wish I could fully experience how food should really taste, how calming a hot shower can be and what a kiss from my children should really feel like. That is – six years and one day ago.

In many ways, I am so much better. I’ve gone on a journey of self-discovery and freed myself from the constraints that I had been placing on myself – the need to be the perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect everything. I was so hard on myself back then!

So, happy anniversary to me – for taking notice of my limits and needs, for making positive changes in my life and for learning to take care of myself.

Happy anniversary to me for being imperfect me.

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