Stronger

Tonight I was talking online with another AI sister and I came upon a real revelation. I hope that it resonates with some of you out there.

Here goes…

It is unfortunate that many people may hear me talk about my health, and some of the things that have happened to me during my struggles, and may leap to the assumption that I am feeling sad or depressed about it. Or even worse, they may simply assume I am feeling poor me. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many of the things that I have dealt with and spoken about publicly actually make me feel a considerable sense of pride and achievement actually! … Even in the midst of pain.

Just as someone might write or post about doing a personal best at the gym, I feel I have done some real personal bests of my life when it comes to what I have survived, risen to, let go of and fought for. In fact going to the gym, going on holiday, getting a new job or losing weight on a new diet are really quite common place compared to some of the things that people with life long health challenges have to battle!

People don’t seem to grasp the real achievements that take place day to day and perhaps it’s because they have no possible understanding of the hard realities we endure. Perhaps it’s why it’s important that we keep explaining and not become silent and disappear?

For example, I have written or shared before how illness can cause us to lose many friendships and end many relationships, many may read this and think Trish feels sorry for herself and she wants to let people know how awful it all is. The reality is much different. You see although it is certainly a process in dealing with such things and working through the pain, I actually feel release and a dignity in moving on and moving forward through such events!

I believe that as painful as losing some people from our lives may be it is balanced by the fact that you are left with people of real quality. I am proud that I kept my chin up despite these events. I am amazed that I could deal with it all when I once would have felt rejected, abandoned and devastated. Now I feel that I am shown the real value of people and the character they have.

I also feel as though my sense of independence has in fact grown despite my physical abilities declining. Independence from peoples judgements and behaviors. Independent from needing their approval.

What is left now are people I have immense respect for. People who have amazing character and commitment. After all, why should I be considered any less desirable as a friend or loved one simply because my health is unreliable and damaged?! It should make the real loved ones value me and relish the time we talk and spend together; just as I do.

Even some of the relationships and bonds that I thought were validating, they have been severed and I feel incredible peace; at last.

As odd as it may seem but in the brutal pain and debilitation of this life I have also found focus and perspective. I feel I have grown in so many ways. I feel incredibly proud of that.

When I dare to share about a difficult night, a painful trip to the doctor, a long fight with a lingering infection, I am aware that many people will just ignore it and dismiss it as simple whinging or attention seeking and will never stop to think about what a test of the spirit it truly is!

Many people won’t ever realize that to do even the simplest of things is an incredible achievement and to do multiple things, as well as battling your health every second of the day, is nothing short of miraculous!

A dear friend I know has been in and out of hospital for several years now and whilst many may think how much more do we have to hear about this hospital stuff, those people couldn’t even phantom the sheer strength and courage it takes to keep going through it all. Time and time again.

Years ago I would have wrestled with relationship issues, feelings of disappointment and obsess over some dysfunctional family issues but not anymore! Today I feel a momentary regret that things had not been different but it passes quickly and I feel a freedom and peace I never had before.

Letting go becomes easier.

Letting go of people, things, places and feelings that no longer fill a life or strengthen it. Things that only drag us down must be put to rest. Finally. It is essential that due to the great load I, and so many others, are dealing with day to day we cannot be burdened with one unnecessary emotion.

Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning of this decline I felt only struggle and fear and didn’t see the things I was coping with as I should. I felt that I had no right to speak of my battles. That I should be ashamed of being sick and that my health should be a source of embarrassment (as one family member once stated). I also believed that compared to everyone else’s lives and daily events, my life was now just a blight and something I should never dare to speak about. In fact mentioning how I was doing and what illness was doing to me was self indulgent, rude, self pitying and perverse. I don’t believe this anymore. Not one little bit.

I have a real sense of pride looking back on all that I have endured and been through, even though I may not have chosen some of these things I still made it through. I survived. More than that I grew. Just as I look back with pride on my career achievement and personal experiences, I now see this part of my life as a real testimony to my character.

I actually have no time for people with no sense of empathy or compassion. I feel now that they aren’t worthy of me. I don’t share details of myself and I don’t let them into my private world and heart. I put a higher standard on those who get my time, effort and love now and I appreciate people for more meaningful things other than their job title, their latest hairdo and their seemingly picture perfect life.

It would come as a shock to most people but the things that I write and share, even the most heartbreakingly difficult things, I am also incredibly proud of how I have dealt with them, learned from them and kept going despite of them.

It’s not self pitying to speak of our battles and health struggles, it’s pride, and I hope all my fellow fighters feel it too!

Gentle hugs,

Trish

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