Two types of evil have existed throughout my life: lupus and guilt. They both have black souls and hold the power to destroy me in different ways. I regularly make deals with each of them, but nothing is ever an easy or uncomplicated choice; to make a deal with one is to suffer at the hands of the other.
I’m stuck in a permanent predicament: to live in the shadow of lupus and wonder what my life could have been, or to take control of my life with both hands, knowing that potentially huge consequences for my health could result. There is no way of knowing which option is better, and every day I struggle to reconcile an inner conflict, aware that I’m never truly winning regardless of my choice.
I’m unsure how I can ever be confident in any choice. Would I truly be happy with the conservative “safe” life that’s necessary to protect myself from the clutches of lupus? Or can I perpetually justify the feelings of pure guilt that wash over me, living life my own way?
Every now and then I can’t help but feel defeated. Ninety percent of the time I do everything right. I cook nearly all my own meals to stay within the parameters of my diet and make the conscientious choice to either go to the gym or exercise nearly every day. Yet putting in all that effort and making my health a priority to give my body the absolute best chance possible still can’t free me of the guilt I feel.
I can’t escape the ever-present worry that I’m only aiding lupus in its mission to harm me. I don’t have the same peace of mind I once did. My brain is forever calculating: How much sodium have I had? How much potassium? How many hours did I manage last night? How much more time can I sacrifice to my fatigue? Would it be bad to have one more glass of wine or would it be better just to play it safe?
Nothing is without a cost. If I don’t pay one of the devils now, it’ll only mean paying the other sometime in the future. Regardless of which it is, I’ll still pay handsomely.
My only choices are regret or guilt, and I’d be hard-pressed to choose which of them is better. I can’t put a price on the regret that would stem from living the rest of my life according to the safe rules that would protect me from my illness. But there’s also no way for me to offset the guilt I’ll feel pushing too hard and too far in my quest to live exactly how I’ve always wanted.
Every day, I force myself to sit down and make compromises with my devils. I’ll trade a personal training session at the gym for sleeping well into mid-morning. I’ll swap missing a friend’s birthday at a bar for a sunny day with my family.
I’ve come to learn that it’s not about choosing lupus or guilt, but knowing what’s worth sacrificing and when.