“Just because my path is different than your’s, doesn’t mean I’m lost.”
There are many losses that come with an invisible illness such as chronic pain: loss of jobs, money, dreams, and friendships. I lost everything for ten plus years due to chronic pain: I dropped out of college, had no real ‘job’, friends that just enjoyed my company because I pretended to love partying and drinking all the time, money to the point of declaring medical bankruptcy, and family members. I lost myself for these years: had no idea who I was except a young girl falling apart inside while keeping the smallest amount of hope the next drug, treatment, or surgery would cure my illness. However, there are two friends I never lost throughout these ten years and one of them is seen above: Lindsay. I never had a sister or anyone in my life who understood me the way my friend Lindsay does. I call her my sister and vice versa because we have been closer to one another than most of our blood relatives since the young age of twelve. We are now both thirty-four. The day I fell off my bike and had brain surgery, Lindsay was right there with my dad in the waiting room waiting patiently for my prognosis. The day my daughter was born, Lindsay was right there and held Kayci at just two days old. The day I miscarried, Lindsay was right there holding my hand and telling me I would be okay. She never judged me for me actions and I never judged her for hers. I guess there are very few people in the world like Lindsay and I and we are so alike and have both been through so much, I consider her something like a soul mate. Your husband/boyfriend/partner do not have to be your only soul mate: you find these angels in others and Lindsay is one of those souls for me and always has been.
A lot of younger people with chronic pain write to me about losing boyfriends and friends and have all the same feelings I used to have at their age: guilt, a sense of failure, loss, depression, worthlessness, and self-hatred. It is hard enough to be a teenager/young adult when this is a time of ‘finding yourself’ and discovering life outside the walls of the people who raised you: chronic pain can steal so much and there is no wonder younger people feel so much added emotional pain due to their physical pain. These were the worst years of my entire life and the time I truly did want to die. With age comes wisdom, with acceptance comes peace, with determination and strength comes self-love. I wish I knew then what I know now and I wish I could get into the minds of all the young people who read my blog and just twist and turn a few little things so that you can see and feel what I do now. You are going to be my age one day and I feel a lot younger and happier than I did at twenty which was fourteen years ago. I expended so much energy focusing on what I was losing due to chronic pain instead of focusing on myself and my health. Whether you have chronic pain or not, friends come and friends go. Your heart gets broken and then it just heals on it’s own: that is life. If you have one or two good friends that do not judge you and are there for you, you are luckier than all the people who have dozens of friends who do not truly have one another’s back. Life is about quality and not quantity. Yes, you are going to lose things due to your invisible illness: especially during the most difficult months/years of your journey but believe me: you will gain so much more in the end. Because of chronic pain I found what I truly love: my passions, writing, a sense of gratitude for all the little things most people take for granted, and most of all I found the people who truly love and will be there with and for me through thick and thin. You will find these things too. Focus on your path and your journey and stop thinking what other people think: I get how difficult that can be but your older self will thank you. It is okay to mourn your losses but don’t live in mourning: live knowing that you are going to gain so much more than you ever imagined.
This post is dedicated to my sister, Lindsay.