How My Illness Has Taught Me to Let Go of People With Clarity and Gratitude
Everyone preaches about letting go, and it wasn’t until recently I had to accept I have to let go of old dreams and relationships. I accepted some goals will remain and they will be achieved differently. I have to learn to live with this diagnosis called fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome with depression as a side dish.
I support people – yes, a DNA habit as I hate to watch others struggle. But most people either don’t know or choose to ignore that I cannot walk more than 100 meters at a time. My muscles, tendons and nerves in my back are a nightmare and at most, I can only shop one bag at a time. I don’t like online shopping – I am not confident in the product brought to me. Do some people know this? Yes!
My heart breaks every time there is a function or workshop I want to attend. I simply cannot take public transport without compromising my health. I always miss out.
I finally gave myself permission to say and accept that people I thought would be there for me, are not. I cannot let the excuses given – “I am private” or “I don’t say how seriously ill I am” – wash anymore. Embrace how you feel and work through it. The emotion will catch up with me, whichever it is.
Isolation itself can be harmful to anyone, but I realized letting go is a process. It’s like peeling an onion layer by layer, and you are the one who cries. It is a struggle between the old you and the new you. Sometimes the new you wins; other times, one simply despairs and reverts to fighting a disease that has no cure. It’s a process of grieving and shedding of old ways to embrace new ways and letting go of relationships you once thought valuable, and at a monumental crisis in your life, discovering they are superficial. It’s a struggle to decide whether to take a brisk walk in the beautiful autumn cold and risk coming back home with cold or flu symptoms that knock you out for three to four days. A struggle to accept having a shower or cleaning the bathroom is enough for that day!
In letting go I realize fibromyalgia is a very lonely disorder. I realized the isolation is one we have to contend with all the time. Methinks perhaps we may not need to battle but instead, flow with the current every new morning. Swimming upstream against a current is a hard task! The struggle through brain fog, trying to remember what to do, when to do it and some days you just cannot do it.
Slowly trotting between the isolation is my biggest peeve: people who say, “I’ll be there for you.” There is a place, a physical place like being in my house or a coffee shop. Conversations on apps are not enough and contacting another when one needs something takes just as much energy, if not more to listen to that person. I struggle using my phone, as the ringtone and vibrations irritate my nerves.
I have been blessed to have five friends who inconvenience themselves to meet me at Costa, Nando’s and a good old pub dinner for hours of a good old chinwag on a weekly and monthly basis. My other peeve is “Call me if you need something.” Really?! I remember a lady crying on the high street when she saw me walking. “I didn’t know it was that bad.” What is it with the human race that we have become desensitized to human pain? She still hasn’t knocked on my door.
I cannot help but think of the story of the Good Samaritan. I picked up the Bible and read through it. It was not the priest and Levite who helped, it was a Samaritan. Samaritans were considered outcasts and less than by the Jewish people. Perhaps it is important to borrow some lessons from him:
1. He stopped when he saw the man. How many times has anyone stopped and offered to help, inconveniencing themselves?
2. He bent down to pick the man and put him on his donkey. This unknown man served the man and gave up his own comfort.
3. He took the man to an inn a and paid for it. He went out of his way to ensure the man was in a safe place. Safe may not be just a physical place.
4. He washed and bound the man’s wounds. As an act of service rolled up his sleeves and got dirty to clean the wounds. Who has sat to encourage you in difficult times?
5. He proceeded on his journey and left money until the man recovered. He ensured that during his recovery, his needs were met.
6, He promised to return, and return he did, settling anything owed. Sometimes it’s not the money people need, it’s the assurance someone cares enough to come back and check if you are OK!
A man with no name helped another man with no name. Invisible people, not your kith or kin. These invisible people are those in groups and telling their stories to encourage and build others. Think about it!
I know of two other people who have done this for me – Lie Wah, my best friend, and my mother. It is with gratitude as I sit enjoying an autumn morning with birds chirping outside my flat that I know these two women would do anything for me. I would do the same.
It is with clarity of mind I accept that people are not always there for you, but help comes from the least expected places. For that I am grateful and let go of those friends whose part in my story has ended.
It is also important for those who say they believe in God to review their attitude towards people with invisible illness. At the end, the question will not be, “How much money did you make?” It will be, “Did you visit the sick and bind their wounds?”
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Thinkstock photo via michaeljung.