The turning of the year has launched us into the darkest season. The clocks have turned back, and fall has embraced the west coast with misty mornings and auburn leaves. The days are short, the nights long, the air scented with the burning wood of home fires, apple pies and fresh rain. It is a time of hibernation, restoration and transformation.
My disease has changed color along with the leaves – it has evolved into a new shadow creature, it’s nature immune to hibernation. It has flared with the blood red sunsets leaving its mark in my body. It has become stronger, fed by stress, disruptions in sleep and lack of self-care. It’s been a stressful year, going to school, working, and writing my first book. As determined as I was to follow this dream, I underestimated the energy it would take – the hours of class time, homework, late nights, and early mornings have put extra pressure on my body. Lost in the thrill of my artistic world, I failed to notice RA creeping out of the opening I provided – but like the arrival of fall, there is another transformation coming.
I will graduate from the Writer’s Studio in a few short weeks, and my life will shift back into a more regular pattern – for a little while at least. I will use that time to take back my life from RA and put it into hibernation, to pour new energy into my own self-care. RA has often interfered in my life, sometimes breaking its flow, but it has never stopped it. When I look back at how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked, it motivates me to keep moving forward. It might take a little longer, and that’s okay, because sometimes a broken current can send me off in a new direction and show me another door.
In the darkest time of the year, I get to transform as well, to take charge of my disease, to change its nature and make it work for me instead of against me. I will enjoy the dark season because in it I can see the stars, feel the wind against my cheek, listen to the melodic patter of rain drops against my window, enjoy the fairy mists of twilight and be invigorated by the life around me. I will give myself the break I deserve, melt into the autumn shadows and calmly wait for the light to return – as it always does.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.