“Soon You’ll Get Better”

I’ve spent much of this morning pacing my room, silently crying, simultaneously mouthing (i.e. blubbering) the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s new song “Soon You’ll Get Better”. 

I had absolute hope that I had settled the score with my health; that after months of wellnesses, meditating, eating nutritionally, exercising, and keeping the positivity balloon floating I would keep the chronic symptoms away. I thought I’d earned a break from being sick. 

Yet mid-July my headaches and dizzy spells started to flutter in, sometimes only for a few hours, and sometimes only for a day. I started eating spinach maniacally, exercising 4-6 times a weeks, going to bed before 10PM, waking up every day at 6:30AM, being consistent, being supportive of whatever my body called out for. 

“Oh-ah, soon you’ll get better.”

I’ve even found a new doctor who seems to think that, after 7 years of sickness, I may finally have an answer to what keeps clobbering me. She’s probably the first doctor who didn’t question my word or raise an eyebrow or concern in regard to my possibly exaggerating or being over dramatic. She listened for a full hour, took notes, read through the small novel of information I’ve tracked over these 7 years, and then she sent me to the lab for testing.

The answer, the cause, the reason for all this crap could be known in just a week from tomorrow; but those 7 days feel so heavy next to the past 7 years. I’m not scared, I’m not sad. I’m excited to finally know. To maybe finally have solutions. And I have a strong suspicion I’ve identified the issue, but I’m stuck in hold until those results come in. 

Waiting would have been fine, I was happy to cross off days on the calendar in excitement. But on Sunday more than headaches began to crawl in. The body aches that feel weighted and the fog that wipes out so many cognitive functions rolled in and has settled firmly, branching from my a constricting band of pressure around head down my neck and across my shoulders. 

I sometimes close my eyes when I walk because I can rely more on my muscle memory than my wobbly vision. 

“Oh-ah, soon you’ll get better.”

And I know I’ll feel better at some point, maybe tomorrow, maybe a week from now, maybe months from now. I know that on the spectrum of illnesses, mine is far from the worst. But that potential for ill-health suffocates me and makes me feel stuck when all I want is to catapult myself to freedom. 

This blog was created shortly after I ended up in the Emergency Room due to a health crash back in October (2018). I was so jostled by the event but hopeful that months of recovery would heal me, and heal me in a way that would give me longevity of health. And in that space of healing and wellness I finally took time to dream of the life I wanted, finally allowed myself to open up to what it is I may hope for.

And then I ran towards it. And now it may be at my doorstep. But can I even let it in knowing that I may have to let it go if I get sick again, if the symptoms I have now don’t fade? 

“You’ll get better soon, cause you have to.”

I’ve set my eyes on a career I dearly want, on a life I want, and I finally thought, perhaps for the first time, that it all could actually come to be. And it all still could, but today the physical aches, the unyielding exhaustion, and brain fog feel too great a barrier to get past, and I wonder if all that dreaming was just that. A dream. 

I’m angry that I allowed myself to be so vulnerable in my dreaming and so open to possibilities because if they can’t happen, I don’t want to have ever considered that they could. 

I feel caged, but in an especially cruel cage that gives me the false hope of temporary freedom, only to re-snatch me away. 

I feel suffocated and I have felt suffocated for so many years. 

For the first 20 years of my life, I lived as a repressed kid with an abusive mother. Her mental illness brought great waves of emotions that left our home in a constant storm. I did my absolute best to be attentive to her needs, requirements, etc. I did everything I was supposed to, absolute everything I could think to do to make her happy. 

But at some point it was easier to let go of the car dragging me from behind. It was easier to take the hit, to fall, than it was to continue the pattern that always left me emotionally bruised and broken. 

I had one year of relief. And it was a remarkable year. I studied abroad in London, I took meaningful courses, I had more energy, I had more hope, I had finally crossed the threshold into freedom, and I loved it. 

But almost exactly one year after my mother told me not to return home, the first symptoms arrived. A throat tightening that is not asthma, is not an allergic reaction, is not anxiety, is not heart related began. The emotional suffocation I’d endured for 20 years seemed to manifest into a physical symptom.

Other symptoms flowed in and now make regular appearances. Doctors typically shrug their shoulders, tell me I’m fine, maybe work less hard, maybe have more fun. Smile more, frown less. 

And largely my family says the same.

“But who am I supposed to talk to? What am I supposed to do?”

For twenty years I gave everything to be a good daughter, to make my mom’s life better. For the past seven I have dedicated so much to getting healthy. I’ve done what I’m supposed to. I’ve done what I’m supposed to. I’ve done everything that I am supposed to do. 

I’m 28 and I’ve sold nearly 3 decades to surviving and just getting by. I’ve thrown myself into my jobs, I volunteer, I go to doctor appointments, I’ve tried acupuncture, I’ve tried hypnosis, I sleep and sleep, I make plans to see friends and cancel them because I only have enough energy to get to the train and there won’t be anything left to get me back. I always smile and wave at dogs. I haven’t dated, I haven’t explored this city I moved to 3 years ago. 

But I was finally ready to do so. I finally felt like all the therapy to heal the issues around my mom had taken hold, that all the wellness practices around my physical health were secure. And maybe this new doctor will give me answers, maybe I’ll finally have a way to get better. 

But for whatever reason, today I am just so sad and want to apologize to myself for these challenges; for having been so stuck in the pain from my upbringing and then to be stuck in the physical pain of this health issue. 

“This won’t go back to normal, if it ever was.
It’s been years of hoping, I keep saying it because.
‘Cause I have to.”

I wear a swan ring on my right hand every day. And yesterday I noticeably had forgotten to put it on. And I need to remember to put it on. 

At the end of Hans Christen Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling the now fully grown swan has a moment after all the high praise where he reflects on this new experience. He realizes that he is grateful for all the pain, all the tribulations because if he had not known that darkness he would not be as grateful for all this light. His sense of self is sharper and more meaningful because he endured the pain of lacking self worth and so much time alone.

I frequently, almost without thought, touch my thumb to my right ring finger and gently press down on the golden swan. Be grateful, I tell myself. Be grateful. This is temporary and will make the good feel so good. 

It helps. For a second I feel good. And even a second of feeling good, feels really good. 

There are so many things I want in life. A meaningful career, friendships that I can keep up with, I want to get married, maybe (I stress the maybe) have kids, go on hiking trips, ski mountains in Colorado or wherever, travel across the world. “Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

I have so much hope. But sometimes, like today, that hope hurts a little more than it helps.

“Oh-ah, you’ll get better.”

I know Taylor Swifts’ song “Soon You’ll Get Better” was written for other reasons, but it’s touching me today and my aching hopes.

“Oh-ah, soon you’ll get better.”

Because I’ve been whispering these words to myself for 7 years.

“Oh-ah, you’ll get better soon.”

Alone. 

“Oh-ah, soon you’ll get better.”

So many times I’ve believed it.

“Oh-ah, you’ll get better.”

And so many times I’ve been wrong. 

“You’ll get better soon.”

But I keep hoping it. 

“‘Cause you have to.”


Lyrics: “Soon You’ll Get Better

Swift, Taylor. “Soon You’ll Get Better.” Lover, 2019, featuring Dixie Chicks, Track 12.

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