***This post is not directed at any one person as the p.o.v. might imply, but rather sums up my feelings about so many conversations, spoken and not, imagined and not, that happen between people with chronic incurable illness and their loved ones.***
It’s hard to accept that an illness will be chronic, ongoing, and that only gradual improvement is plausible, but I’ve done it. Mostly. And accepting my reality is the very thing that allows me to make the best of it. Time spent wishing I felt better is wasted time. Time spent finding small comforts in the moment, taking care of myself, and looking forward to the small joys of tomorrow is time well spent.
Not that I don’t sometimes still break down in a puddle of overwhelmed exhaustion and despair tinged with self pity and feel loads better afterward. I do. But it’s no longer a daily, or even weekly affair. It’s probably monthly, or bimonthly, and I can totally live with that.
It’s strange to have come so far, and then upon expressing my hope for continued gradual improvement over the long arc that is the years to come hear from a loved one:
“Yes. I hope you get over this. And soon.”
It doesn’t work that way. I’m convinced that if you were listening harder you would know that. But maybe your love gets in the way so that your wish for me to not have pain clouds the stark reality right in front of you. Maybe the miracle-filled media that glosses over chronic pain and illness has made its way into your core thoughts. Maybe you have more faith in your magical thinking than I. Maybe it’s just too difficult to accept something you’re not living.
But maybe you could fake it for me.
Because your wish that I could “get over this” only echoes back my own insecurities that this current state is not good enough.
Because your wish that I could “get over this” stirs fear that I am somehow failing to achieve wellness that is right in front of me like those magic eye posters I could never decode.
Because your wish that I could “get over this” makes me feel less than what was once declared to be my full potential.
Because your wish that I could “get over this” ignores the reality of how I feel today >>>>>>>>> Triumphant. Heroic. Strong.<<<<<<<<<
Because every person around me who gets it; who understands and accepts that many of us are simply making the best of what we have: a body, a brain, a history that is malleable, but only to a degree, and only over a long period time, helps me feel at peace with Now, letting go of Then.
What I want to hear is your faith that I am doing my best, and that my best is my full potential.
Selfishly, I might want you there when I need to grieve, but I ask you to please look elsewhere when it’s your turn, because I don’t feel I can carry my own grief and yours as well.
<<<<<<<<<You can be sorry I’m in pain, but you can not, and may not, verbally wish my pain away.>>>>>>>>>>>
I’ve (mostly) accepted myself as I am.
I invite you to do the same.