Residual Self-Image

poster for The Matrix

poster for The Matrix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was thinking about the movie the Matrix the other day.  You know the part where Neo is being shown exactly what the Matrix is?  When he suddenly finds himself in the training program appearing exactly as the person he was before he was freed.  His hair is back, the holes in his body are gone, and even his clothes change to reflect who he was-not who he actually is in the present.  His residual self-image- not who he is but who he remembers being.

I think everyone on a certain level has a residual self-image.  Maybe it is a happier you, a slimmer you, a healthier you, a younger you. Or perhaps it is someone who had an energy level or a motivation level that you can only dream about.  No matter what the image of ourselves that we hold dear to our heart-the one we can’t let go- it affects the standards that we hold our true self up to daily.

What I should be able to accomplish on my to-do list and what I am actually able to accomplish are two different things.  I have begun to wonder if I ever had the capability to be that productive or has the reality of who I was become warped over the years. How badly have I distorted what I should be able to accomplish in a 24 hour period?  Is it fantasy or my residual self-mage makes me more discontent with my present state?

My body certainly doesn’t resemble my residual self-image.  In my mind and in my dreams I am still that fit woman with the 25 in waistline and the toned body.  The girl who spent 1 ½ hours to 2 hours 4 times a week working out.  The girl who couldn’t imagine wearing double digit size clothes and was once told she was too tiny now says a silent prayer to see a size 10 and thinks of the joy it would bring her.  The woman I picture in my mind and the woman I see in the mirror seemed to cause my brain to overload.  It is hard to process that the woman I see in the mirror is what has become to the woman I hold near and dear to my heart.

Some days I feel that the remembrance of who I was only serves to make me more discontent in the present.  Other days my residual self is an inspiration of who I may be again-one day.  Other days I am fairly sure that I will land somewhere in the middle.  After all, even without RA I am no longer in my 20’s. That girl is gone for good.  But what I hope, what I pray, is for the new self that I am slowly building to be better than who I used to be. I will be wiser, emotionally stronger, more loving, and more supportive to those around me.  I want health more than the perfect body.  I want depth.  I want a new better  me more than I want to return to who I used to be.



Are you ready?

Those three words seem to be on my mind a lot lately. I was having my annual discussion with a group of friends about where we vow to be in bikini shape for summer. This is the same conversation we have had every January for the past three years. We start out enthusiastic for the first few weeks of the New Year only to see our commitment to a healthy lifestyle wane in the weeks leading up to summer. We find reasons why ice cream with lunch is ok 2 or 3 times a week. We begin sharing new restaurant choices rather than swapping workout stories. By June we find ourselves in the same place we were the year before. Unhappy with the extra weight and self -conscious about the more revealing clothes during the summer, we always vow that next year will be different.
Yesterday I realized that I had changed. Even if I didn’t have the support of my friends I was ready to stop making excuses about my weight and lack of physical fitness. I understood that I was finally ready to get serious and do what I know that I need to do to get this weight off once and for all. Not because I want to wear a bikini this summer (even though I do) but because I am tired of being unhealthy.

I had this resolution in the back of my mind when I went to my appointment with my rheumatologist. I was honest with him in letting him know that although I wasn’t doing bad I wasn’t doing as well as I had been doing in the past. He asked me was I ready to increase my dose of MTX to 25mg? And I said yes. Part of me being healthy is taking care of my disease. I had been dreading this increase in medication as some sort of failure on my part. But sitting in his office today I had better clarity. I had to make a choice for health-which means getting this disease under control before I end up in a prolonged and painful flare. I will now be injecting .5 ml of MTX two times a week. This is the best choice for my health.

So today I can say with conviction that I am finally ready to make the changes in my diet, work out plan, and drug regimen that are needed to keep me healthy. I am no longer waiting for a support system to get on board with my plans. After all- I have the most to lose if I do not support and nurture my health. Who knows, maybe my decision to move on ahead of them will inspire them to catch up.