I remember trying to pray when I was so sick that I couldn’t get out of bed.
It honestly felt like punching a brick wall. As exhausted as I was, I often wondered, “Why am I hurting myself more?”
But there is this one moment I remember, and I’ve been coming back to lately.
I had just woken up. Sunlight was streaming in from the window on my right.
Gently I heard, “You’re not going to be the same person when you get better.”
It seemed obvious enough. I knew that the struggle with chronic illness was shaping me. Getting out of bed every day, making food and going for a walk were my greatest triumphs. I knew that I was brave in the midst of feeling extremely fragile and broken in social situations. I knew that I didn’t fit in with people my age anymore.
For these things, I grieve, and I still grieve. I often feel like I’ve lost my 20’s. I’ve lost the time to experience the spontaneity of life as a single 20something–and I’ll never get it back. I’m learning to be gentle with myself and let myself grieve that I can’t rewind time. I spent time in bed instead of going on dates. I roast chicken and make bone broth instead of going to a bar. I learned to stay put instead of travel.
And as I heal-I still spend hours in the kitchen. I plan out where I eat and where Chipotle stops are along a vacation route. I read in quiet more than I go out with friends.
But I am noticing these quiet gifts, joys that I wouldn’t have known before. I can sit still. I can create an environment of peace, and hopefully people feel more peaceful after spending time with me. I can make yummy, healthy food and I love sharing food with others. I’m not scared away by hard questions. I can speak my nuanced perspective much more confidently. I can take care of myself and not apologize for it. I allow myself to be refreshed daily.
I’m not the same person I was, and yet I am.
This gifts were in me, waiting to be seen.
What I really did, slowly, was remove facades. I didn’t need to appear extroverted, or be a power-house single female who was an accomplished career-woman. I got to drop these images of myself, and get in touch with my fragile, vulnerable self.
I learned to cherish and find great strength in my vulnerability. I had the opportunity to claim honesty as one of my greatest gifts. I got to slow down and learn to be friends with myself.
What healing journey are you on? What griefs and joys are you experiencing?