What a Vacation Taught Me About Myself and My Illness
Vacations are fun for a multitude of reasons. Being away from home, feeling special in public and not having too many responsibilities. For someone with a chronic illness it has an unexpected side effect.
A vacation from yourself.
When you are at home surrounded by people who know you, there is a certain expectation. Those close to you know what you are going through and help out in the areas you are lacking. The flip side of this is they know how you used to be. They remember how you were able to do so many things. This can make things awkward when you are faced with an activity that used to be so simple but now is a task and a chore.
When in a new setting and with new people, there comes an easier understanding. You explain your condition and there is a moment of understanding (for the most part). You are able to be yourself a bit more than usual. You don’t have to hide behind the mask you put up when in pain.
Two main things came out of my vacation in this regard. First, I was able to truly look at myself and see my condition in a new light. I got to be honest with myself, in being honest with those around me. I got to see the amount of pain I am truly experiencing instead of trying to mask cover, or make excuses to myself and those around me. This can be a harsh reality to face.
The second thing I realized was the effect of my condition on those close to me. I know I can get wrapped up in the misery of my condition and not see the reaction of those around me. Those around you me struggling with the loss of an able friend. A spouse who now has to pick up the slack. The brother who is not the superman he once was.
It is very easy to forget that our condition affects more then just ourselves and our bodies. It touches the lives of all those who know you. The suffering reaches beyond your own body. The ones closest to you struggle with you. It is true we have to fight the guilt that is sometimes associated with not being able to do activities with loved ones. I feel we tend to forget that those same loved ones are struggling as well.
Take a moment, all you chronic illness warriors, and reach out to those close to you and thank them. Tell them you love them and appreciate all the ways they help you. Remember, a vacation from yourself is not a vacation from those who love you.
Getty Image by Chalabala