I find that living with MS has created a clear separation between the past, the present, and the, oh so unpredictable, future. It’s become so obvious, that now think of myself as sort of split between three different tenses.
There’s past Alex, present Alex, and future Alex.
All of these Alexes have to work together to help me manage my MS, both the physical and emotional side.
To make this article a little easier to follow (I’m aware that I sound a bit crazy already!) I’m going to break it into easily digestible chunks.
Let’s start with past Alex.
I’ve never really been one for looking back. The future is where it’s at, right? I was always planning where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, I wasn’t really ever concerned with stuff that had already happened.
Let bygones be bygones, right?
But then MS happened. Now the future seemed somewhat uncontrollable, the present wasn’t always the best place to be, so what else could I rely on?
The past is about the only thing I know for certain, the only thing that isn’t unpredictable. It’s already happened, already been and gone, there’s no going back to change it now.
I’m not saying that I’m stuck living in the past, that I just sit in bed, thinking of better times gone by, but past Alex has a lot of important lessons that the other two guys can really learn from.
Past Alex has already lived through the experiences that present Alex is having, or that future Alex could possibly have. Past Alex knows how awful present Alex can feel, but he also knows how good things can be.
The most important thing is that past Alex knows that, no matter how bad things got, he always got through it. He always survived. And eventually, he always thrived.
Past Alex reminds me that there are better days ahead. I need past Alex to tell me that I am strong, that I can push through the bad times, and that there are better times ahead.
He would know, he’s done it loads of times before!
So past Alex sounds like a pretty good guy right? But what about present Alex? What role does he play in all of this?
Well present Alex is sort of a caretaker. Present Alex’s job is to look after future Alex. Future Alex relies on present Alex to make good choices, eat good food, get a good night’s sleep. If present Alex goes a bit wild, if he overdoes it, then it’s going to be future Alex that will suffer for it. Present Alex needs to do things when he can, as soon as he has the energy. If future Alex comes home to a sink full of washing up he is not going to be a happy bloke!
But present Alex also needs to know when to delegate tasks to future Alex. Sometimes he’s just not up to the task, but he knows that future Alex might be. It’s always a bit of a gamble, but sometimes present Alex just needs to sleep!
Ah, future Alex. The most unpredictable of all the Alexes. I don’t really know what to say about this guy, he hasn’t happened yet!
In short, future Alex is a motivator. He makes sure the other two behave themselves. He’s sort of at their mercy, which creates a bit of a volatile relationship.
Future Alex can be an angry guy, furious at the other two Alexes when they’ve messed up, when they’ve overdone it. He’s the one who has to deal with the consequences of their actions after all.
But future Alex can also be a thankful Alex. A guy filled with gratitude. He’s over the moon when he comes home and realises the other two Alexes have done all the chores. He breathes a sigh of relief when he sees that they’ve already been and got the food shopping.
Ok, so by this point you’re probably thinking that I’ve lost the plot. Splitting yourself into 3 different tenses?!
Ok, so it might sound a little crazy.
But I think we make a pretty good team.