When You Still Experience Jealousy After Accepting Your Illnesses

Just because I’ve long accepted my chronic illnesses doesn’t mean I don’t periodically wish for more.

I’ve accepted who I am and feel well adjusted to my reality, to my limitations. I can, in theory, do whatever I want. I just may be in great pain while doing it, pay for it greatly later, or completely peter out while in the middle of it. I am still a loving, kind person who volunteers, helps friends, who is optimistic in light of many personal roadblocks.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t voice the other side of it. The feelings of raging jealousy at those who can do the things I’d love to do.

I am mesmerized by friends who are able to stay out late and still go to work the next day. Who can go all out during bachelorette weekends full of booze and dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

I am jealous of those who can sleep at the drop of a hat. Who seem to have long been good friends with sleep itself. Who fall asleep easily, sleep deeply, and wake up refreshed.

I think it would be such fun to go on a second or third date to a salsa dancing class. Can you even imagine? And what if it was on a weeknight?! It’s almost laughable.

And those people who have stomachs seemingly made of iron, who have nary a care about the terrors of indigestion, nausea, and cutting out entire food groups. Who don’t risk not only the night, but days ahead full of nausea and/or pain if they dare eat something as dangerous as….wait for it…corn. Or grapefruit. Broccoli.  Beans. Oatmeal.

I barely remember the time when the world was at my fingertips.  Where there seemed to be endless possibilities for living, rather than constricting my days so I can live.

I know we’re getting closer to understanding conditions like fibromyalgia. There is now a test that links chronic fatigue syndrome to faulty cell responses, which makes us one step closer to understanding related conditions. The sooner that we gain a more thorough understanding of chronic conditions the better the scientists can develop better treatment and medications. But I’m scared that I’ll be pretty old by the time that happens, and the I won’t be able to live the full life I imagine by that time.

I look at people really living. Living in ways that I wish I could. I’ve never been a big fan of camping, but I think I’d love to go on day hikes. Forgetting the mobility issues, and asking, “What on earth would I eat?” Gastroparesis and interstitial cystitis seriously limit good “to go” foods.  Maybe I’d take up my friend who has a not-for-profit in Tanzania and join her on one of her trips. Maybe I’d volunteer in more active ways, or do 5k runs to raise money for causes I care about. The possibilities would only be limited by my imagination and will power, not my body and chronic health issues.

It’s hard to tell here, but I’m honestly not much of a shouldda, wouldda, couldda, woman. Having chronic conditions is really out of my control, and I do my best to control them as I can. I eat healthy. I take my meds as prescribed. I go to bed early and at the same time each day.

I do my best to make sure it all doesn’t change me. That I’m still loving, still kind. That I still care about the things I care about. I try to spend less time thinking about the things I wish I could do and work on the things I can do: I walk around the Chicago Botanic Gardens on days I feel good. I volunteer at a local kid’s museum. I visit with family and friends.

I am a different version of me than I thought I would be, but I’m still me.

Getty Image by Kate Shamanska

This story originally appeared on Salt and Sage.

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