It would be very rare indeed for someone who is chronically Ill, or having chronic pain and disability, to not have asked “What about my happy ending?… Is this it?… Is this how it ends?”
Western society tends to focus on life as a series of challenges, triumphs, achievements and then the happy ending and curtains close… I will leave that thought for a moment and return later.
I have read a lot of wonderful books in my time and cried and wept when characters die and even flung books across the room when they have not ended as I had hoped. It often has made me ask the question, ‘if it didn’t turn out as I wanted it to, was it worth reading?’ …
In hindsight I now think that even when the characters we love and invest in die, or don’t end up with the hero, or some terrible twist happens, we are still rewarded for having read the story through to the end and following the character is reward in itself. Does there have to be a happy ending to make it a good story? I don’t believe there does and not if you if you don’t NEED it to be.
In life we may not always have storybook endings, and true life will never read like a Disney fairytale. But the challenges, the hardships, the losses, the failures, the sadness is both some of the best AND worst parts of the story of our lives and what gives it the depth and uniqueness that we deserve. We would never have deliberately chosen pain and suffering in our life story. We would hardly want pain and grief to be a feature either, that’s why its not up to us to write it, but to live it…
The joy comes from following the story to the end…. whatever that ending is, and however that happens. The best parts of a story are the adventures that we have along the way, the characters that move in and out of our stories and the lessons that they leave behind. The most important part of your story is that you love and respect your main character; because its you!
I wont tell you that the story of you is going to be an easy one, I can’t tell you that it will be full of high adventures and lots of successes, but I can tell you that it is worth the writing and worth the telling. The happiest ending will be the one in where you are the happiest within yourself, knowing you gave it everything you had until the very end.
Everyone has a story. This was as true for ancient kings and queens as it is for everyone you pass in the street today. Whether we were born to be the ruler of a country or whether we got sick and struggled with a chronic disease, it is not important who you are but that you lived your story as much as you could. Life is equal parts chance and choice, but I think we can all have a story we are happy with, regardless of whether it’s considered to have had a happy ending or not.
What I would like to encourage the Chronically Ill, the disabled, the carers and those with unpredictable and incurable diseases is to OWN your stories. Don’t be tempted to diminish or devalue your story because it may not look or feel like everyone else. When we let people cut out our characters from the human story and experience, we devalue each other and ourselves, and that is the saddest loss of all. There is something about me, about my nature, about my regard for myself that feels I owe it to me to respect the events and the challenges that have happened on this journey and although my life comes with complications, medications, pain and wheelchairs, it doesn’t mean I am going to let the world just write me out of the script. I wont let myself feel like an unwanted character because of what has happened and what it means to the rest of the world. The true story of humanity includes the sick, the healthy, the explorers, the fighters, the losers, the winners, the magnificent mix of human emotion and experience which directs us all into the future… whatever that is going to be. Don’t let the society take your story away or tell you its not a story worth reading; because it is! Every single word. Every single line.
As I finish this piece I am well aware of my own personal challenges and how there are events in my life that didn’t go as I would have chosen them to go, but I can honestly say, without fear or hesitation, I wouldn’t change a thing. Diseases or no disease. Pain or no pain. Loss or fortune. Tears or happiness. I truly have a story, regardless of how it ends. And so do you.