chronic illnessfaithinfertility

My Identity Crisis

When I became a mom last year, I remember everyone telling me that I would no longer be just “Jamee” but instead I would be “Abby’s mom.”  I always laughed about it until one day I got a phone call from my mom.  She asked, “How’s my baby?”  Of course, I responded, “A little sleep deprived but I’m doing ok.”  She then said, “I wasn’t asking about you – I was asking about Abby!”

Reality hit.  What people said was true!  I’m no longer Jamee instead I’m either Mommy or Abby’s Mom.  I have several favorite “mommy blogs” that I read that have posted awesome blogs about this loss of identity that comes with motherhood.  Two of my favorites are written by Katie and Blair.  What I love about these posts is that they talk about the side of motherhood that isn’t often shared.  I think every mom could go on for hours and gush about the joys and blessings of motherhood but often we struggle silently with the challenges that accompany the blessings.

But over the last couple week’s I’ve been thinking – does the same thing not happen with chronic illness?  As we shuffle between doctors’ appointment we often become the “fibro patient” or “endo patient” or maybe even “the patient that has so many things going on that we have absolutely no idea what to do so we’ll just avoid her as long as possible.”  I can’t help but think of the scene in Patch Adams where the students are taking a tour of the hospital and the instructor is telling the students about the patient with diabetes and all of her complications and Patch raises his hand to ask the instructor what her name is.  The doctor looks puzzled but replies “Margery” so Patch says hello to her by name.

How often do we long to be referred to by name?  How many times do we let our identities somehow become our illness?  I love the quote “labels are for jars, not people” but how often do we do it to ourselves?  We exist beyond our diagnosis.  The last couple weeks because of my flare, I have hardly looked beyond my pain.  I have retreated in many ways and become a shell of the woman I long to be.   As I was sitting in bed wrestling with these thoughts, I began to think about how my illness had affected my identity in three ways – as a woman, a wife, and a mother.  How can I move beyond allowing my diagnosis to dictate who I am and who I become?  Maybe you have found yourself asking the same questions.  Over the next couple weeks, I will be posting a series attempting to answer some of these questions.  My husband has even agreed to do a guest post!

Hopefully you will stick around for the series and hopefully we will find healing and encouragement together along the way!

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4 comments on “My Identity Crisis

  1. Baffled says:

    As soon as I read “labels are for jars not people” I thought “my labels all fell off”. I have only recently become ill. I have been 80% housebound for the last four months with severe fatigue. I keep wondering what my new labels are going to be. I am no longer “competitive figure skater”, “weight lifter/gym rat”, “laser jock”, “mom”, “wife” (in the traditional sense). I even posted a “last entry” on my skating blog last week. What am I going to become? I have been pushing away the “CFIDS girl” label. I don’t want that to be my new identity. CFIDS girl is not a label that I’m going to take on without a fight but right now it is the only identifiable label I have. I don’t know what else I’m going to become since I really can’t do anything so this is where I am currently struggling. It is a philosophical question. What are you when your old self if stripped away? What is left? What can you create out of the ashes? What will my Phonix look like?

    Reply
  2. Katie says:

    When I pass people on campus, I try to say hi to them by name because I know I like to hear my name shouted across the caf.

    I look forward to this new series!

    Katie

    Reply
  3. Brooke says:

    i love this post. that’s one big fear of parenting i have. all my life i’ve had some sort of label, but they have always involved me. not something i created.

    Reply
  4. mamie says:

    I felt the same way once I had Katie. I had put so much time and energy into my career and then I was no longer working, a stay at home mom , then a year later diagnosed with my first auto-immune disease.
    I went through a deep depression but then I made some amazing girlfriends. That was the key for me. When i’m with them (with kids or without) I’m just Mamie.

    Reply

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