I’m sitting outside with my neighbor. It’s July, and in Madrid it is very hot. It’s a dry heat that you feel rising up from the ground beneath your feet and emanating from the walls of the buildings around you.
We are maintaining the required safe distance. I can feel the sweat droplets accumulating under my mask. My neighbor shares his future plans, and I share mine. This conversation makes me drop my shoulders and play with my fingers a little. My neighbor points at a sign above the bar opposite us. It reads “El Imperfecto” — the imperfect one. That, my neighbor says, is our future: “It isn’t perfect, it probably will need rethinking and ask for some readjustments, but that’s just fine.”
Life with a chronic illness like endometriosis is far from perfect. For starters, wearing pristine white is not generally for us, unless we want to live dangerously. We also suffer from sudden life-disrupting symptoms. No matter how much we want to do something, whether it is as simple as going out or as huge as having a child, it rarely works out perfectly. Because of the disruptive nature of our disease, there are a lot of canceled plans, broken promises, and a great deal of redesigning one’s present and future.
Apparently, to many people, I’m far from perfect. Facing life by myself, having huge tattoos on my arms, being too thin. I get worried looks and plenty of buts when I share plans that don’t tick the right boxes others want for me. Like when I politely explain how settling in a quiet town is not what I want, even when most of my relatives live there.
I arrived in Madrid in February, ready to soak up its culture and get to know its people. Instead, I suffered the most hellish lockdown and became acquainted with my own misery, and the city’s collective one. As I now get ready to leave, my future is uncertain. For some, this is troublesome. For me? I finally have the droplet of philosophy required to deal with my current situation and anyone not liking how I respond to “Where are you going next?”
My neighbor gave me one word to breathe easy: imperfection.
It turns out, I know imperfection. I know what it is to reschedule my entire life because something inside me implodes. I know how it feels to give up a dream job because my health is more valuable. And being happy with imperfection is not a bad thing. In fact, it benefits my mental health.
Aiming for perfection is anxiety-inducing. My stress levels are at their worst when I make no space for concessions or accidents. I don’t have all of the answers. All I know from life is my own experience, which is closely linked to my health.
I can’t and won’t have everything I wish for. I will have to accept things I cannot possibly change. My body will start hurting at the worst time, and my energy levels will drop when I want to do the most. That’s when, in my mind, I will return to that bar below my flat in Madrid.
It was not a pretty spot, rough around the edges and ridiculously hot as it was, but its imperfection suited me just fine.
My anxiety levels ease as I stare at the word “imperfecto.” My chest rises. My chin, too. I am smiling at my neighbor underneath my mask, but he can’t see it. I resort to my hands to show I’m grateful for the air of positivity, calmness, and acceptance he has just brought into my life.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.
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