It’s been almost nine months since the day I was diagnosed with the conditions that cause chronic pain and intense emotional struggle. On that day, it felt like I lost the person that I was. I had an image of the life that I would have and in that moment, it evaporated.
Since that moment, I have been struggling to get back to where I was. And that’s where I’ve been wrong.
I keep hoping that one day I will wake up and forgive my body for letting me down. I keep hoping that someday I’ll be able to acknowledge my conditions and what they mean for my future without choking on the words as they leave my mouth. And I keep hoping that someday I’ll just be okay.
But amidst all the hoping, I’ve neglected to acknowledge the reality of the situation. I’ve allowed my conditions to become my identity. I distinguish myself to others as an outcast, unlovable, and broken because of these conditions. My struggle has become my identity.
Life, for everyone, is a struggle of sorts. Whether you’re struggling through mid-terms, struggling to see your self worth, or dealing with a less than ideal home life…we all struggle. For me to believe that my struggles with these conditions would magically disappear was terribly naive.
I’m wrong to believe that I could or should get back to where I was. That person no longer exists. My struggles since that day have altered everything in my life…and that’s okay. We humans are pretty adaptable when it comes down to it. I may feel like I’ve made no progress, but yet I continue to speak openly about my conditions, see a physical therapist, work 40+ hours a week, and sometimes manage to work out. All the things that, nine months ago, I never thought I would be able to do.
When I look in the mirror, I see a condition. But my struggle will no longer be my identity. It’s what I have, not who I am. It’s going to affect me. But it no longer has to control me. I will have days when I feel overwhelmed. You will too. But these days will be challenged by the days when we feel hopeful. And when we feel that hope- we have to grasp on and never let it go. Because we are not defined by our struggles. We are so much more than that.