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When My Illness Leads Me to Believe I Am Not 'Enough'

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As I sit and reflect on last year, my heart sinks into a place that doesn’t feel right.

I didn’t realize how broken I was until I started to heal a bit.

Sadness was thick in my soul and a feeling of dread took it over for a time being. My hopes, my faith, my thoughts of the future were all being tested at once.

While I traveled down this lonely road I had silently hoped there would be a friend who would reach their hand out to me before I fell off the cliff. Friends that use to be there, were now gone. And yes — some tried, but they really had no idea how desperate and how close to drowning I was. My husband tried with all his might but there was a hole he couldn’t fix. Loneliness existed on a level I had never experienced or thought possible when still surrounded by people and family that loves me.

Being sick makes you lonely cause you can’t keep up with the average person.

Being lonely makes you sad.

Being sad makes you not want to be around other people, especially people who seemed happy and content in life. I was stuck on a hamster wheel.

I couldn’t fake it anymore. And I stopped trying. I stopped faking it. I am not sure how I must have seemed to others. If I still had a smile on my face it certainly took an effort to have it there. But I’m fairly certain that the smile was gone. I stopped answering when people asked me how I was. What would I say: “I’m dying inside, can you fix me?” So I would just pretend I hadn’t heard the question or nod and smile and quickly try to escape.

I had nearly drowned in feelings of worthlessness and discouragement. And I am still battling those feelings each and every day. It’s days like today when the busyness stops and quiet takes over and there is too much time to stop and feel. That’s when I start to struggle.

I miss the past. I miss the days when I didn’t feel so lonely, so sick, so limited. So when I have a moment to breathe that isn’t filled with something I am supposed to do or when I am no longer running on adrenaline, I start to think, I start to feel.

I often think I am not enough somehow, not good enough, smart enough, spiritual enough, strong enough, brave enough. Not a good enough mother, wife, and especially not a good friend. My friends have dropped like flies through the years, often making me think I had done something terribly wrong. When my kids dote on me with hugs and kisses and my husband exclaims his affections for me I have at times questioned: “Why?”

It’s amazing how negative feelings can alter your visions altogether. It is amazing how sickness wears you down to the point of no longer recognizing yourself.

But my reflections have me determined to start anew. I am not to blame for other people’s choices and I am no longer going to bear that guilt. I cannot help the sickness that has attacked my body. It is not my fault.

I am determined to stop thinking that I am not enough. Physically sick or not, I am enough.

And I am not alone.

I wish I was, but the reality is I am just a tiny fraction of those hurting. There are too many in this world that struggle with the same self-doubt due to one reason or another.

But the same people I see struggling with those feelings are people that I think are beautiful, inspiring and more than enough. In fact, I wonder where they initially started to think otherwise.

At what point did life beat us up enough for us to think we are no good? Maybe it was when we made some mistakes. We realized where we went wrong and struggled to turn it around. Maybe someone let us down and that made us question our worth. Maybe we never had people tell us how precious we are. Maybe for those who are sick, it was because we had used up all our energies just surviving so we had nothing left to use on activities that are important to us.

Maybe it was nothing.

Whether it was something or nothing, they are hurting and I “get” it. This big, hugely populated Earth is filled with gentle souls that are counting the days as they pass by, not totally sure what they are accomplishing besides using up Earth’s air supply. Their broken hearts are hidden by big, beautiful smiles not wanting to burden anyone with their sadness. But perhaps if we all shared our feelings a little more freely, we wouldn’t get to the place of such despair. At least in my reflective state, I have to wonder if that’s helped pull me out of the darkness. Finally letting it all out. Not relying on just myself anymore because my shoulders were not that strong and they finally gave out on me.

I’m not saying the dark clouds have lifted and I am left with blue skies and a rainbow to boot. I am saying I can see the sky again a little bit. A bit of blue is peeking through. I’m not suffocating anymore, the air isn’t so thick. My hope has returned.

But if I shift a little to the left, or a little to the right, the rain starts to pour down on me, soaking every bit of my soul. So it takes focus to stay steady, effort to control these negative feelings or thoughts. And as strong as those feelings are, with the right help I will be stronger.

And so can you.

Originally published: September 8, 2016
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