“[…] For all we know
This may only be a dream
We come and we go
Like the ripples of a stream […]”
- “For All We Know,” Donny Hathaway
Illness has changed my life in tangible and intangible ways. For all I know, it may be simultaneously the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. It has given me perspective.
I think it’s easy to think about the things we can’t do because of illness. But it’s harder to think of the things that illness has allowed us to do. This is a much more introspective task.
Illness has shown me that I possess strength within me, but I do get tired of hearing that such and such experiences will make me stronger. Maybe I’m strong enough already, maybe I’m not that strong at all.
Illness has taught me how to fight, not in battling the disease, but in fighting for myself, and the treatment I deserve in all aspects of my life.
In illness, as in life, you have to pick your battles wisely. You have to be willing to fight the good fight, but also know when to step away and let others take the reins.
Illness has taught me, as I have discovered recently, that I’d take physical over emotional pain any day.
Illness has taught me not to hold back, to share my feelings, and love with my whole heart, body, and soul. And that makes me a far different person than I was before I got sick. Sure, I had crushes on guys, but I never really put it out there. Now, I grab the bull by the balls (pun intended). Yes, the bull, and yes, by the balls (my girlfriends will understand this).
The main thing illness has taught me is that we can’t control everything. For all we know, this could be our last day on earth. For all we know, we might live another 80 years. Those of us who are chronically ill feel the ticking of time more acutely, the need to make every day, every minute, every hour count.
I don’t think it was until I got sick that I realized I really wanted to have children. It’s like discovering I didn’t have the body I wanted, made me realize that I may never have the life I wanted. With the reality, at least in the beginning, that I may not live long enough or be healthy enough to have children.
With my ex-boyfriend, I even considered and almost relished the concept of being a stay-at-home-mom, of leaving academia behind for the most important role of my life.
Recently, several people have made the comment to me that you don’t have to have a man to have children. But the problem is, there are going to be real physical challenges. As much as I want a child, there is no way that I would do that as a single parent, knowing that there may be times I won’t physically be able to care for a child.
Illness has made me realize that the little stuff doesn’t matter. It has shown me to take absolutely nothing for granted.
When life gets too hard and I think that I can’t, I just keep telling myself “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but at least I tell myself I can before telling myself I can’t.
Ultimately, if there is one thing that illness has done for me, as the name of my blog suggests, it has brought me closer to myself.