Living with a long term illness.
Not because I'm wanting to moan, or rant. Simply in a bid to be authentically me and speak from my heart.
Thank you for staying with me on this. There is some good news tucked in here.
Living with a long term illness is tricky. Not exactly an earth shattering observation, I'll grant you, but I'd like to explain why.
For those of you who don't know, I was diagnosed with a long term illness in 2003. Initially I was told I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Subsequently, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). I was 35.
For those of you who aren't familiar with ME, you can learn more by reading my post from January last year, called Hello Again, where I disclose for the first time here on my blog that I have M.E.
Before I became ill, I related to the world through movement. I started ballet lessons when I was 4. I took ballet lessons two or three times a week every week, right up until I left home at 19. I swam. I walked and ran. I learnt to rock climb. I rode horses. I didn't learn to drive a car until I was 30 as I walked everywhere I went. I carried on dancing after I left home. I took tap lessons in my 20's. Salsa classes in my early 30's. I found it really hard to keep still. I fizzed with energy and loved it. I even wiggled my feet in my sleep! I never weighed more than 8 and 1/2 stone. I was physically active every day throughout my life. Until I got ill. Then my body stopped fizzing.
Being physically healthy and knowing and loving the power and resilience of my body, and becoming seriously ill and feeling the vulnerability of my body is the most powerful (sometimes heart-breaking) change I have ever experienced.
Being unable to run away from myself (the irony of having ME has not escaped me... being that sitting still used to be nigh on impossible) I have gone on something of an internal journey. I have been very angry at my body. I have grieved the loss of being able to dance. I am learning to be gentle with myself and to accept myself just as I am. Out of that process something unexpected has happened.
Living with a long term illness has forced me to look at my own vulnerability. It has been a difficult and painful process. Mainly because I have fought it tooth and nail.
But recently, having come-face-to-face with myself, I realised something very important...
It's in our deepest vulnerability that our deepest beauty lies.
Since I've been ill, the way I view the world, and my place in it, has changed. I feel less driven. More patient. Gentler. My heart has been opened and I'm learning to be less afraid to allow myself to be vulnerable. I've started to hug first. I've learnt things about myself and the world that I don't believe I'd have understood in the same way without being ill. In the spirit of allowing myself to be vulnerable, I'd like to share them here with you.
- If I cannot change what life brings to me, I can change how I perceive it.
- What life brings to me isn't a personal attack, even though it can feel very much like it.
- I always have a choice about how I respond to what happens to me.
- Being vulnerable can feel like my biggest weakness but accepting my vulnerability is actually my biggest strength. It opens my heart. It allows me to be who I really am. It allows me to be authentic.
- Illness can offer an opportunity to heal my relationship with myself and others.
- Accepting everything just as it is releases me.
- Having compassion for myself just as I am allows me to feel compassion for other people just as they are.
- I always have a choice to step into a new way of relating to myself, other people, and the world.
- My external circumstances do not determine my happiness.
- Happiness is a choice.
- There is joy in the smallest of treasures.
- Life offers opportunities to experience joy in every moment.
- It's OK to be sad and cry because sometimes life hurts.
- It's OK to ask for help.
- Sometimes people can't help me but that doesn't mean they don't love me.
- I always have the choice to come from a place of love or fear.
- Coming from a place of love makes me feel loved.
- What I give out always comes back to me.
- It's OK to panic. Life can be scary.
- Whether I am physically healthy or not, all anyone ever has is this moment and I can choose how I want to experience this moment.
- We are all connected.
- I am much more than the sum of my physical parts.
- Gratitude and acceptance have huge power in them.
- Being healed and being cured are two different things.
- Love heals.
- Everything changes.
- I am OK just as I am. Even if I can't dance right now.
Since getting ill, I have been forced to stop. I have been forced to step back from all the externals of life. I haven't wanted to but I've been forced to get quiet.
When I got quiet, and stepped nervously into the silent, peaceful place inside myself, I found something much bigger than me.
It feels good to have shared this list with you. Thank you for reading it. ♥
Thank you Liv Lane for giving me the courage to write this post and press the "publish post" button.