|Posted by JENNIFER SENNE on March 11, 2018 at 10:10 PM|
Traumatic is the best word I can use to describe the experience I had at one of the major airports in the United States. For those who are not familiar with the difficulty and complexity of my illness; Dystonia you probably would not understand.
I was fine, enjoying the end of the journey my husband and I took for three weeks and then our flight was delayed for 45 minutes on our way home. I usually do not fret about these things. However, we had two other plane ride to catch on time. One of them was an hour after our first. Needless to say, we landed late. We rushed through the humongous Houston airport, bumping onto other passengers on our attempt to make the next flight. I have never said "sorry" to so many strangers in my life until that day. To make the matter worse, we heard the final call as we started running towards the gate.
I am not fond of running, to begin with, but I tried my hardest to keep up with my husband. My breath became shallow, so I decided to pace myself, but when I lost sight of the blue sweatshirt that my husband was wearing, I started to sprint once again, and that’s when it happened. My left calf stiffened, my chest tightened, and before I knew it, my whole body gave up on me; I could not move. I saw my husband fading right before my eyes as he attempted to make the gate on time later informing me his intention of begging the attendant to hold the gate for me. This time, I panicked.
I was surrounded by other people who were in a rush to make their gates, and a good Samaritan could not help but asked if I was OK. I nodded as I tried so hard to move my legs one after another. I dragged, I walked, I even attempted to jog. I walked, and I trotted some more to what felt like an eternity. Finally, I had a glimpse of the man in a blue sweatshirt, a look of concern scribbled on his face, as if asking me if I was alright. I shook my head to let him know; I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to give up and fall right in the middle of Houston airport. I looked up to see my husband, and his expression tells me, “it’s ok, take your time. I’ll take care of things” like he always does. I nodded for him to go ahead and make the gate for us. Once again, I took one step at a time, dragging, walking, and jogging. Before I knew it, I saw the number I’ve been looking for; GATE C9 under it, the man in a blue sweatshirt, smiling and nodding as if to tell me, “I’m so proud of you.” A lady was standing next to my husband signaling for me to take my time and a guy behind the counter who seem to be amused by my distress.
I wanted to cry as soon as we got on the plane, but I held my composure. My dystonia symptoms continued throughout the flight; the tightness in my chest stayed, my voice left me and my ankles twisted inward in response to the trauma I just went through. I rested, and my husband comforted me. “You did great; you made it. You can relax now.” I know in my heart his intentions were pure, but I could not help but fall apart. I cried and cried; I wasn’t embarrassed to let him know how scared I was. My body betrayed me that day.
Though traumatic, there are still lessons to be learned. Sometimes we can’t control the circumstances around us. We had no control over our delayed flights or the gate being miles apart or even my body stopping me from moving. I did, however, have the choice to give up or keep going. Sometimes, life can be so arduous and traumatic that we have no other choice in mind but to give up, but if we just take one step at a time, give it a little more push, perhaps we will make it to our destination, however long it may take. There will be obstacles, no doubt about that, but if we just keep our eye on the goal and hear the silent reinforcement around us, we will persevere. I could have taken my husband’s going before me as a negative thing, but I knew his intentions, and I took his constant pauses to reassure me that everything will be OK. I saw in his face the cheer for me to keep going. I focused my attention on his encouragements not on what was holding me back.
Yes, I broke down and cried. Crying doesn’t make us weak; it means we are human. However, this doesn’t give us the excuse to dwell on the negative experiences in life. Cry the frustration out instead, cry the overwhelming feeling you just faced and leave it all behind. The most important thing we can do is to learn from it and find the lessons behind each experience and turn it into motivation.
A man under the counter seemed to have delighted on behalf of my struggles. Many people will laugh at what they perceive as our weakness. People will doubt us; people will pull us down, people’s reaction can break us, but we need to realize that those people are the ones with the problem, not us. I once saw a quote; that said,
“You can tell a lot about a person’s character by what they laugh at.” Unknown.
Another great quote I read says, “Small minds can’t comprehend big spirits. To be great, you have to be willing to be mocked, hated, and misunderstood. Stay Strong.” Unknown.
The man under the counter had no idea what I was going through yet; he dared to laugh at me. I wonder if he knew that my body gave up on me, would he have compassion instead? No one will know. All I know is that I choose to draw strength from my weakness instead of letting it defeat me.
Take some time to reflect, is there perceive shortcomings in your life that you can turn into fortitude or resilience? You won’t believe what the power of positive thinking can do in your life.