A less than likely warrior… I never really thought of myself as a “warrior”. I mean, I’ve always been stubborn, capable, energetic, strong willed and don’t typically take “no” for an answer… But a warrior? I have also been known to question authority…. Just ask my old softball coach or girl scout leaders (before I was asked to leave my troops…. yes, that’s plural!) If a rule doesn’t make sense, it’s my nature to question it and even push against it.
I’ve never considered myself a warrior, but here I am. Just like so many others who suffer from an “invisible” disease.
We live a life riddled with obstacles, difficulties, and afflictions. Every day is a challenge. But everyday we push forward. Despite the daily adversities and challenges. Everyday, we are faced with physical pain and a laundry list of ever inter-changing symptoms that can vary in intensity from minute to minute. We often feel isolated, as if we were treading water with no hopes of a life ring to be thrown our way. Our finances have been drained, many of us have lost jobs, homes, or are forced to declare bankruptcy. There is no one size fits all remedy or “cure”, so we are on a constant search to find what treatment will work for us…. all without the coverage of insurance.
Every one of us also has to face the naysayers, the ones that don’t believe how real this nightmare is for us. Even from our own families and spouses.
Learning New Strengths
As with most Lymies, since being diagnosed with Lyme disease, and co-infections, I have experienced a huge shift in my life. I didn’t really know myself deeply and intimately before. I had to learn a lot about myself… And to be honest, I like what I’ve learned.
Being sick has showed me new personal strengths, and rearranged priorities. I’ve always been pretty tough when it comes to physical labor, general pain, or catching a common cold. But I never imagined I would learn how deep my strength really flows. Priorities have shifted, life perspectives have drastically changed, and the way I see myself has transformed. The way I see others has changed as well. I have a refreshed and deeper understanding of what’s important, and what is not.
What’s NOT Important
Here’s what’s not important! Unhealthy relationships, (the friendships I had been seeking before were all wrong. They were superficial, ungenuine, and unhealthy). I was living for weekend nights. Being concerned of other people’s views of me. Listening to gossip…. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect! I’ve said things out loud I should have kept inside or probably run through a filter first, but it’s never my intention to say anything hurtful to, or about, someone else…. But I shouldn’t have listened to it when my friends indulged.
Separating myself from people with these traits has been beautifully freeing!
What IS Important?
So, what is important? My family! Learning to heal. Learning to slow down. Appreciating the smallest of blessings. Self respect (and not letting others take advantage of me or use me as their doormat… This one took way too long to learn, but better late than never!) Also important; learning to trust God, and not worrying about things outside my control. Finding a real relationship with God… Not the superficial one I’ve had most of my life. I mean a real, deep, and reciprocated connection with our Father.
You know what else is important? Realizing God has a plan for me! I’m not just here to take up space and live an insignificant life. This is big!
I. Have. A. Purpose!
I may not know exactly what my purpose is, but I know I’m finally on the right track, I can feel it. It’s OK that I’m not %100 sure. There’s a process happening here, and the puzzle pieces will fall into place as God sees I’m ready for the next segment.
I’ve also learned to love myself for the hot mess that I am. I’m perfectly imperfect. Also, I will not and can not be the girl I was before I was sick. And I’m ok with that (most of the time). I’ve learned how to mourn the loss of the old Sharon. I still miss the old me, and cry for her from time to time, but I know that girl is gone. But a new and better Sharon is developing.
If you do not have a chronic illness this may sound super dramatic. But trust me, it is legitimate and undeniable. Everyone with a chronic disease will go through this, and it is not easy.
But a Warrior?
So, why does this make us warriors? We are no more special than anyone else. We look like everyone else. However, we are tougher than most people will ever know. Our tolerance for pain, is way beyond their comprehension. We live in a world where our complicated disease is not taken seriously enough and in some states, still not even recognized by many doctors. We face ignorance from our loved ones daily, we’ve lost friendships, our marriages have been broken, bank accounts have been emptied, and seeking treatment is a never ending and exhausting endeavor.
Warriors push through their adversities every single day. They strive to live their life the best they can. Many of us not only stay strong for ourselves, but for our children with Lyme as well. This is and extremely difficult and arduous undertaking when you are sick (even though “you don’t look ill”). On the days when getting out of bed seems so impossible, or taking a shower steels every ounce of your energy, or brushing your teeth leaves you completely winded. On the days your bones are on fire, or your joints feel like their being steam rolled, you still do what you can to take care of your family. That takes strength and courage.
My Message To Other Lymies and chronic sufferers
You may think you are alone, and I know it feels like it much too often. But you are not. I see you, and what you are dealing with. When you are treading water and feel so far from dry land, you are not alone. Maybe you may have lost a lot of your friends, or maybe your loved ones don’t offer the support you need. Whether you are tethered to a picc line or pumping your body with herbs, keep on fighting. Whether you’re in a wheelchair or stuck in bed with relentless fatigue, keep on fighting. Some days you may be too weak, but you are still fierce. Find your inner strength, and treasure the blessings in front of you. Good days will come and go.
Focus on those good days and the relief and physical peace they offer. Focus on the joy, and remember that every day you fight brings you one day closer to a healthy you.
Although this fight is unseen and unrecognized by many of the people in our lives, WE know what each of us is going through, WE get the enormous and absolute daily struggle. As a Lyme community, we can get through this together. Reach out and connect with others with Lyme disease, join local groups (either online or in person), but never think you are alone! We are an army. And we will continue to fight for ourselves, our families, and other warriors to pull through this medical chaos.
Stay strong my unlikely warrior friends! We’ve got this.
Wanna learn more about Lyme disease? Check out my article here https://chronicallyimperfect.com/what-is-lyme-disease-basic-info-on-lyme-disease/. You can also check out the following links for more great info!
Lyme Disease Association https://lymediseaseassociation.org/,
International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society https://www.ilads.org/
The MIGHTY https://themighty.com/