Illness makes you vulnerable. It takes your breath away and shakes the foundation of even the most carefully planned life, bringing you to your knees and laying all your shit out in front of you.
At least it did for me.
I spent over a decade dealing with hypothyroidism and chronic pain. And what I mean by that is, there was not a single day for over 10 years in which I did not experience pain in my body. I had migraines – sore, stiff muscles – swollen, achy joints – nerve twitches and ticks – stomach issues – achy bones – and extreme exhaustion.
It hurt to be me.
Sometimes I would lie on the floor of my living room while the rest of my family slept, wondering how much pain a body could take before it went into cardiac arrest or just stroked out. I would wonder if I’d make it to morning. I would cry because it hurt so much, for so long, with no relief and no end in sight.
It hurt so much to be me.
Sometimes I look back and wonder how I got through it. How the hell did I ever find the ‘other side’ of illness?
It wasn’t easy, or pleasant. I had to get very, very real with myself. I had to crawl through every ounce of the shit that didn’t serve me until it no longer hurt to be me.
It was hard to be that vulnerable. To see things I’d worked so hard to get – a career in education, a beautiful house, a strong, fit body, people, places, hopes, dreams, savings accounts, my healthcare and retirement – all of it – slip through my fingers.
Letting go of a life my Soul didn’t want and couldn’t sustain was excruciating.
But my illness left me no choice. It stripped me of everything and dared to ask: What is it you really want out of your life and are you brave enough to go get it?
I was – and I am.
Now, I must continuously to ask myself: What supports my Soul? What brings me joy? What makes me healthy? Where am I finding love, kindness, gratitude, and compassion? How do I continue to create a life that doesn’t hurt?
And am I brave enough to live out the answers?