Earlier today I was thinking back to life before chronic illness. How I feel now versus how I felt then. Now I’m not talking about physically. It’s easy to focus on the physical differences between now and then and the things that I could do then than I cannot do now such as running or climbing.
I’m talking about how I feel on the inside. My confidence. My sass. My spunk.
Sadly, I think a lot of that has gone. Granted, I’ve admitted I’ve always been quiet and introverted but still there was a spark. I know there was. I felt it.
It wasn’t about beauty or attractiveness on any type of physical level. It was about feeling comfortable in my skin and how I was and feeling like I could own that.
I think over the last few years the physical drain of the illness is in itself has obviously been a pretty significant part of it but I think there are so many times where I just feel so defeated and almost betrayed by my body so its hard to feel comfort in my own skin when I feel it has almost turned against me. My body itself has changed. I have struggled with my weight since coming ill and even when I feel successful in my weight loss journey, my shape has changed so I’m curvier in some places than In once was. My new scar as also been a big struggle. It’s very large and very dark (and still really, really hurts). I struggle with even my husband seeing it and it only adds to the intimacy issues related to my illness.
Above the physical things that impact my lack of confidence, I worry that somehow my worth as a person is not what it once was. Who wants to be friends with someone how spends a great deal of time bed-bound? Where is the fun in that? I constantly worry that other people do not believe that I am truly sick and its all in my head. I’m a minister’s wife and am not able to be nearly as active at church as I’d like to be so I worry what church members think when John shows up to church alone with Abby week after week.
This all of course also impacts my spiritual life. I have a stack on devotionals on my night stand that I really want to read and dig into but I cannot seem to do it. Every evening as I crawl into bed I look at them and feel a pang of emptiness inside. I miss the intimacy I once had in my walk with God. I miss the craving I used to have when I skipped reading.
All in all, I feel like a shell of who I once was. I miss feeling like me. I’ve written post after post on trying to let go of the “old me” and learn to embrace and find a way enjoy this new normal (after all it is the title of my blog) but I’m in a season of struggling. I’m in a stage of grief where I bounce between anger and depression and I hate it. I’m ready to move on.
When I wrote my senior will in high school, I remember my opening sentence was, “I, Jamee, being of strong mind and vivacious body . . .” I want to feel that way again. I want my spunk and sass. Sure, its been 13 years since I wrote those words buts it’s never too late to reclaim it, right?
The thing I love the most about Invisible Illness Week is being able to read the words of others and know that I am not alone. I know the journey I am on is familiar to others who have been diagnosed. I hate knowing that others struggle with pain and illness on a daily basis (and feel the anger and depression of losing a part of themselves) but knowing that I am not alone is such a reassuring feeling. One of the seminars I am looking forward to the most is called “Who Am I Now? After The Diagnosis” and hoping it will help get me started on regaining my footing. I am also hoping working on my Sharing Our Spoons goals will help too!
Have you struggled with your identity after your diagnosis? What have you found the most helpful?
I am writing this week for Invisible Illness Awareness Week! Don’t forget to enter a chance to win Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend by Lisa Copen!