The Life I Gained Because of Chronic Illness

I was scrolling through Instagram late last night and came upon a blog post entitled something along the lines of “The Life I Lost Due to Illness.” I made a mental note to go back and find it this morning, but haven’t been able to locate it since.

The title has stuck with me all day – but not in the way I expected it would.

At first I thought about the life I lost, or temporarily misplaced, as I like to say. I thought about where my life would be by now had I never fallen victim to chronic illness. I thought about the job I’d have working at a busy corporate firm, I thought about living on my own, preferably in a bustling city somewhere, and I thought about a social life that involved more than just Netflix.

But the corporate job I would have had would have meant working longer hours and more late nights at the office. I never would have learned to slow down, or the importance of self-care. The stress from that job may have been too much to handle, and the pressure may have hardened me. I might not have smiled so much on my way to and from the office, and I might have resented my choices along the way.

That independence I lost would have meant never getting to know my parents as friends instead of just caretakers. It would have meant missing out on approximately 820 family dinners and just as many morning coffees. It would have meant not being down the street from my grandparents when they needed something, and it would have meant coming home to an empty house instead of one filled with loving animals.

The social life I lost would have maybe lead to more friendships, but it certainly wouldn’t have lead to deeper ones. Being ill teaches you very quickly which friends are family and my illness has done just that. It also would have meant never gaining the empathy for others going through similar circumstances, which I truly believe has become a defining trait. Finally, I never would have learned just how much fun a quiet night at home can be while knitting or taking photos. It’s also possible that I wouldn’t have learned that sometimes the simple things are enough.

Sure, I’ve missed out on a lot, and I’d be lying if I said I never thought about these things wistfully. But the truth is I’ve gained just as much, and deep down I know these things will always be there when I’m ready for them again.

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