In the almost 8 years of blogging (EIGHT!), I have written many times about how endometriosis and chronic illness has changed my life for the better and for the worse. I have learned not to take anything for granted. I have learned that I am much stronger than I could have ever given myself credit for. I have learned the importance of being your own advocate and I have learned to trust my gut instincts and to trust my heart.
I have written about all of these in posts and letters time and time again but one thing I haven’t addressed is how endometriosis has made me stronger because it has made me a part of a team.
I have always been independent and even a little bossy depending on who you ask. I am also an introvert to the core. I can be social if necessary but I am more relaxed in intimate gatherings and thrive in solitude.
In a way, this works rather well with chronic illness since I don’t get out and about like I used to so I don’t feel trapped and start climbing the walls.
But . . .
I also know that I cannot do this alone.
When I was in seminary, we had to take a class on death and dying. Sounds like a really fun class doesn’t it? In class there was a little quiz that we had to take that judged what we feared most about the dying process and death, such as the afterlife, burial vs cremation, the physical process, etc. What I feared the most was losing my independence. I cringed at the though of being totally dependent on someone else and not being able to do things on my own.
Since being diagnosed and in the years since, I have had to face that fear. I am not completely dependent on someone else at this stage (even though there have been some periods of time in which I have had to be) but there are many things that I have had to come to terms with.
I hated asking for help.
I hated saying no.
I had to be on top.
I had to be in charge.
I had to have the A.
I had to be perfect.
I mean I knew perfect was impossible but I had to be as close to perfection as possible and the only way I could achieve that was by depending on what I could control.
I thought asking for help, saying no, or not having the full approval (imagined or not) meant that I was weak.
I was wrong.
Obviously that doesn’t work at any point in life. Sick or not. Striving for perfection only sets you up for failure and heartbreak. It also causes havoc in your relationships. It also creates an upside down picture of God’s love and His grace.
It took me awhile to get it through my thick, hard-headed self but I learned that my strength doesn’t come from me.
Yes, I am strong, confident (sometimes), and determined but my strength comes from God’s love, grace, and mercy and from there my strength filters throughout all aspects of my life.
Coming to this realization has helped me in my marriage by accepting my husband’s help and allowing myself to be completely vulnerable. And also allowing him to be my advocate when I cannot advocate for myself.
Coming to this realization has helped me have more real and authentic relationships with family and friends.
Coming to this realization has helped me understand the importance of taking on chronic illness head on as a team. As much as I would love to be able to cure this beast on my own and have women everywhere be free of pain worldwide, we need each other.
Endometriosis has taught me the important of being a team. It has taught me the importance of campaigns such as Blogging for Endometriosis Awareness, Her Yellow Ribbon, and the Endometriosis Research Center to make an impact on the world to spread awareness, education, resources, and support.
I have learned the importance of activism across all types of illness as bringing awareness and research for one is a win for all. Organizations like WeGo Health work alongside organizations and activists of all causes and while Blogging for Endometriosis hits its major stride in March during Endometriosis Awareness Month, we work behind the scenes all year teaming with groups like WeGo Health and hopefully we can work to make BFE a year long drive to fight for not only endometriosis but all invisible illnesses.
Endometriosis has taught me that as a team we are strong and we are unstoppable.