It seems like every day I encouter someone who would do anything to change a moment from their life. They want to change one moment, one day, one hour, even one second and cancel it out or wish it away. One moment, that came along and changed everything.This one moment defines who they are today, how they got to where they are, and what haunts them at night.
When this first happened to me, ("this" being illness, but I do not like to say it's name or even the world illness because I do not like to give it power) I thought I was the only person in the world who was haunted by a traumatic day from my past that didn't have anything to do with war, or things people are usually traumatized by..this trauma, it was from my own body. I thought I was the only person who replayed that fateful day in my head, over and over again when I went to sleep at night..and maybe again when I woke up in the morning. I would call myself a fool for holding on to it so tightly, this one moment that I let define my entire life from that point forward. I would constantly replay in my head the night before the morning I woke up and collapsed to the floor. What if I went to bed earlier that night?, I'd think. What if I didn't drink a diet coke everyday until I knew how bad it was for me? What if I stayed an extra day at home and slept in my own bed, maybe I wouldn't have woken up like this..
Why was I holding on to it so tightly? What did this moment mean to me? I considered this moment, this moment where I fell to the floor in my dormroom and the subsequent weeks of physical and emotional tormoil that followed to be my defining moment- what changed me forever and what made me who I am.
But, is that true? Why does this moment get to have so much power in my life? I've been pondering this for weeks, as I wrack my brain to try to figure out why this seems to be the memory that sticks, when other things that have happened- graduating with a Master's degree, working as a therapist, learning new skills, maintaining close, meaningful relationships with friends, and completing and adding so many dreams to my list, seem to just be in the background.
So, what is is that defines me? What is it that defines you? I consider myself to be extremely sensitive, caring, and creative. I feel strong empathy for others and like to volunteer my time to those less fortunate. I love animals. My family means a lot to me, as do my few close friends who have stood by me.
This has always been my truth. This has always been who I am. I was always the girl in elementary school who made friends with a child because I felt bad they didn't have any friends to play with. I was always the child who wanted to save animals and would bring home caterpillars so they wouldn't be run over in the street. This is me. This is who I am, and who I always have been. Why am I letting that moment define me? Why am I letting the bad days create a label of "sick"?
The truth is, everyone has a moment in their lives that changed everything for them forever. They are forever moved, sometimes frozen, from this moment in time that changed their view of the world or the view they have of their bodies.
What if we thought about who we were as people, before and after the moment that changed everything? Are you still kind? Do you still have that weird sense of humor that always set you apart, or that funny laugh that makes everyone in the room laugh with you?
Yes, illness has taken away so much. Some would say it's taken away everything. It might have taken away your independence, your ability to express yourself clearly, your ability to fulfill your dreams, start a family or maintain relationships.
But, has it taken away who you are? Who you were born as? Dare I ask, has it helped contribute to who you hope to be?