Sunday, November 17, 2013

Who you were..Who you are.

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?


  1. Such a relatable post and it has really got me thinking. Sometimes I wish I could be the old me again for a while, but then the old me is so different from who I am today in many ways, I'd like my old health with the newer wiser woman that I am today, x Hayley-Eszti

  2. You know, I've been thinking a lot about this particular topic lately. Not so much the part about changing a time in my life (although for me, it would be when I got mono), but how I've been continuing my life while ill, but my illness seems to overshadow everything else. Bear with me here... it is late and brain fog has set in, but I stumbled across this post and wanted to comment!

    When I thought about it, it sort of makes sense despite all of the gains I make in my life, my illness is a big part of my memories and the like. It reminds me of the infatuation stage of a relationship where, because of the brain chemicals released, all you can think about is the person you just met and when you'll see them next, etc. Eventually it wears off and you move into the other stages of your relationship where your brain isn't pumping chemicals that have similar effects to drugs on your brain. Similarly, I'm sick every single minute of every single day and my brain just doesn't ever get used to it (bless it for that). It constantly wants me to be aware, "Hey, things aren't right in this body of ours" and to do something about it. Doing things takes concentration in a way it didn't before. I'm constantly thinking about controlling various symptoms as much as possible while simultaneously playing a board game with my stepdaughter, for example. Enjoying things doesn't always come as naturally as it did before because sometimes the pain, dizziness, or fatigue overshadows the positive experiences. It makes it quite difficult to be "in the moment" when every moment is shared with symptoms. I practice meditation and it seems to help me be in the moment and just accept my illness as neither good nor bad, just what is. However, as I'm sure you know, it can become challenging to maintain this mindset on a day to day basis, especially around the holidays when there's dozens of activities/traditions/prep work I'd love to be doing on any given day!