Why I'm No Longer Uncomfortable With Being Called 'Strong' for Living With Illness

I used to squirm when people would tell me I’m so strong. When they would go on and on about how they don’t know how I do it. How I live with so much pain and illness. How I remain positive and full of love.

I used to squirm because I felt like answering, “I have no other choice.”

But, that’s not true. They’re right. I have numerous choices. Choices about how I deal with chronic pain and chronic illness. Choices about whether I will dwell on the negative or the positive. Choices about whether I will be bitter, resentful and jealous, or decide to embrace joy, love and empathy.


Among those choices are a million tiny variations in between.

I’m never 100 percent positive, negative, happy, supportive, empathetic, bitter, jealous or loving. I’m a flawed, unique person, just like any other. I feel all things. But, I made a choice, when I was 23, that I would live my life with love. Joy. Friendship. Appreciation. Support.

I would live a passionate life. A happy life. Illness would not take that away from me. Pain would not hold me hostage. I would no longer allow myself to keep falling deeper and deeper into the abyss of “why me?”

Why not me? I’m not special or immune. If someone doesn’t have physical challenges, you can bet they have emotional challenges, or financial challenges, addiction challenges or any other kind of challenge. Life is never easy, but we can choose to make it mean something. We can choose to embrace the time we have here. We can choose to see the good amongst the bad.

I choose to focus on the great, the beautiful, the amazing. I allow myself to feel the more negative emotions, but I refuse to dwell there for very long.

My life is worth more than that. My life deserves joy and love.

So, maybe I am strong. I could have stopped truly living when my body made it physically torturous to move, but I chose to fully live. To feel all things and to embrace whatever comes my way.

There is strength in being able to see the beauty amidst the pain.

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Thinkstock photo via Maltiase.

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