My New Year’s Resolution

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

I feel like there are so many glossed over, happy shiny, New Years’ Resolutions, so I’m not going to be shiny this year. I’m going for authentic! I’ve lost friends because of my multiple sclerosis. It was too much and they left. I’ve lost the ability to work at the job I worked so hard to get degrees in. With that loss comes a HUGE financial burden. I got new of a new lesion that sits at the base of my brain stem, and the top of my spinal cord. Side note-we get no help from our government in any way. According to them, I am not sick. Feel free to laugh. After all, it is funny!

My multiple sclerosis has indeed progressed. Life, for me and my husband, has gotten harder. I get hella frustrated, only I know I have someone who loves me and two little kids that are watching how I fight this adversity. Hence, I have to keep my head up and smile. Focus on the good.

I think MS gave me the right to stop caring about certain things. MS gave me permission to let go of perfection. I can stop. I noticed when I’d be outside with my students, all of a sudden I had to sit. That was when the MS kicked in – it was also when my advisors thought I was lazy. If they saw what I was going through, they would’ve given me teacher of the year.

That’s one part of being grateful with this disease. I don’t have to be perfect anymore. There’s freedom in that. But more importantly, I learned I really can’t do everything. I can’t work three jobs and take care of an infant and a toddler, while paying attention to my husband and running marathons and HEALING. Before MS I thought I could do everything, but even then I was wrong. You are bound to drop one of those balls that are in the air. MS really told me to STOP. Enough already. Slow down, savor.

But then it led me to this – community. Since I have had MS, I have opened myself up in this way I have never been opened to before. I was always the giver. The “come to my house for the holidays if you are alone” person. The teacher. The free tutor. Until I couldn’t be. My community suddenly opened themselves to me… and life changed.

When MS came along, I realized the more I was open about my MS, the more people started helping me. I’d balk at first, mortified that I was receiving this help, and then I let go. I had no choice. I needed help. Letting people help you is your gift to them. I’m being serious. Community.

My daughter Zoe’s school had a volleyball game in my honor and donated the money in my name to the MS Society. When I was ill, they used a web site where friends and strangers alike signed up and brought us dinner every night. People made us incredible things too – like squash lasagna, for TWO MONTHS! The gesture of receiving was so overwhelming.

So my New Year’s Resolution is to be more open to the community that has helped us so much. I tend to hide because of my MS. I’m not hiding anymore, I’m helping the people who help me, and strangers.

The community here on Living Like You was the first to save me emotionally. The community I live IN was the next to step in physically and stop by and check on me. MS and all, this year I will be a part of that community that helps us, and I will be helping someone else.

I encourage you to join me in 2017. Be a part of your community, let go of your fear, and challenge yourself to help someone else. You never know what it could mean to them.

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