Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Closet (Living life well)

I sat this morning, cross legged on the floor, and listened to the story of a woman who has cancer.
Hearing her story, it felt like Vietnam and I was a vet. I knew that pain, I'd experienced the wondering when your life is going to end and if this disease is going to kill you and fighting to get better.
I'm in a different place now then I was a year ago. I'm back at school, I'm doing well, I'm stable, I have a life. And yet I'm still not better.
At school and in my now so called normal life very few people know about what I've been through. I don't talk about the medical side of things very much. Partly because I'm in a different place now than I was and partly because it's not relevant to where I am now and partly because for me it's a very personal thing. I'm doing well now but there's still that side of it that is still so raw and fresh.
I'm stable now and able to do so many things but there's not a day when I don't feel something and wonder if I'm getting sick again. There's not a day when I'm not scared that I'm going to lose everything I have right now. I'm walking the line between sick and better. I'm not sick anymore, not like I used to be, but I never will be better.
And this is my life now, finding a way to live and live fully with a chronic illness. Not letting the fear and the what if's rule my life.
Of course I'm still afraid. Of course it's still hard and overwhelming and exhausting and I break down because I don't want to live like this anymore.
I can feel the fatigue in my bones from the trying to be normal and balance my sick life and my normal life and trying to find what works best in terms of me feeling the best and how far I can push things without it getting awful.
I watched a TED talk recently by a woman who was talking about coming out of the closet. She said the closet was anything that was a hard conversation, something you kept hidden.
For me, that life I used to live, that's my closet. It's easier to not talk about it. Easier for me and probably easier for other people. It's easy to pretend that that's not who I am, that being sick isn't still this huge part of who I am. But it is. It has forever changed who I am.
So I think for me part of this new stage of life includes accepting that part of me while making room for the new part of me. I'm still that girl I was a year ago but I'm also someone new. My body is healing, my soul is healing, my heart is healing.
I had this thought that until I got the report that my conditions were cured, there would always be a part of me that was broken. I was living my life in fear of 'what if I get sick again' and I feel like I'm living this double life and it's exhausting. Until I was cured entirely, I believed that part of me was broken. Maybe I still feel like that some days.
But part of this journey is realizing that while I will never be cured, I am well. While I may never be healed, I am healing. Compared to where I was a year ago, I have made amazing progress.
That doesn't mean I'm not afraid. That doesn't mean it's not hard and I'm not exhausted. I still live my life by the clock. I still have to be very in tune with my body all the time. I'm still sick.
But I'm not broken.
I am struggling, but I am whole. I am cracking but it is only because I am growing.
I heard a quote this morning about things in life serving a purpose and then being done. And I feel like that part of my life where I was so sick, it served a purpose. And now I am moving on to this new chapter of my life. I am continually growing and changing. And just because I am shedding layers it doesn't mean I am no longer whole, it just means I am growing new skin, becoming a butterfly instead of a caterpillar.
One of the hardest things for me now has been balancing my 'two lives' and living fully with a chronic illness and not letting fear keep me in one spot. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I was back in that place where I was so sick because I knew what was coming. But that's now where I am right now.
I am here. I am healing. I am growing. I am changing. And while I'm not cured and still am sick and still struggling with that, I'm not broken. I'm not alone. And I'm trying to not fight the current and accept where I am now, surrender to the situation of where I am and not worry, not obsess over what could happen.
Sometimes I think I prefer to stay in my closet and not talk about these hard things because its easier, because it still hurts me to talk about where I was and where I'm headed when so many things are uncertain and while I'm not cured and still struggling every day. But once in a while I think it's necessary to fling open to the door to my closet and talk about where I'm at and where I'm struggling and how my healing journey is going. Because life is not isolation.
So this is my closet, the things I don't talk about. This is learning how to live again with a chronic illness, after you were convinced you were going to die. This is learning to embrace life and trying to live walking that line between sick and normal, between not cured but still well.
I think we all have closets, things we don't talk about. And maybe my closet has sparkly gold walls and maybe your closet has rainbow walls or purple walls or a disco ball, but we all have closets. And I think life wasn't meant to be lived in isolation.
I think part of healing is finding your tribe and finding those things that feed your soul and going with it. And I'm learning. And I'm struggling and I'm embracing and I'm growing and I'm healing and I'm well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

my favourite line? But I'm not broken.

Oh Alisha, you so aren't. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and it's been a privilege to watch as you travel this journey. You are special.