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Why I've Avoided Playing My Cards With a Chronic Illness

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Have you ever experienced that moment when you realize your life is going down a path you didn’t plan? It’s sort of like when you’re playing a card game. Usually, when the game begins, the first thing you do is look at your hand, right? You wouldn’t look at everyone else’s hand, or pay attention to the design on the cards while playing.

I’ve realized sometimes it’s easier to spend time worrying about the irrelevant things, rather than looking at your cards. You want to avoid the hand you were dealt, so you cling to anything else, instead of playing the cards you have.

After serious self-introspection, I now realize I’ve been disproportionately unfocused on my cards. I’ve looked in the mirror, and couldn’t even recognize myself. I’ve gotten so wrapped up in stressing about Spoonie Essentials Box (SEB), I stopped living my own life. Dealing with the woes of a chronic illness has really tried and tested my ability to depend on myself.

In taking a step back, I see how isolated I’ve become — from my friends, family, and from me. After starting this business, I’ve spent my time obsessing over boxes and constantly checking tracking numbers. And as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been a terrible support to anyone outside of SEB. I haven’t been the person I want people to be to me. I’ve bottled my frustrations and anger into a cocoon of solitude. I’m realizing the pattern in my unhealthy coping mechanisms. Instead of processing my feelings, I buried them until they manifest in other areas of my life.

I guess the truth is, I still wish I wasn’t sick. Spoonie Essentials problems distract me from managing my own life.

Now I have to process my feelings and life outside of my company. I’ve forgotten my own passions for living outside of chronic illness. I’ve forgotten I can still have a life outside of the box, and outside of supporting others. My sanity and survival depends on supporting myself. I’ve forgotten I’m still in the process of accepting and adjusting to my new life. I’ve avoided my personal baggage and nearly destroyed myself in the process.

During a really tough time, I created a light and I clung to it. If I could exist in a Spoonie Essentials vacuum, I wouldn’t have to truly process the loss of my former self. I’d never have to mourn if I didn’t think about who I am as an individual.

I don’t really think it’s possible for me to exist in a space that does not miss who I used to be. However, I need to get back to being authentically me, back to loving myself for my essence. Dwelling on all the things I used to be able to do physically, or wallowing because I feel exhausted after doing a small task doesn’t change those facts.

I keep telling my beau, “Right now is all we have.” My real life is happening. Even though I was talking about my business, I need to get busy fulfilling my personal life too. My legacy, my life, is not just Spoonie Essentials. In so many ways, over the last few months, my boyfriend has been trying to tell me, “Sometimes the worst things in our lives lead us down a path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” He probably found that quote online, but he’s right. It’s so much easier to talk about being positive and spreading love through the mask of a company. It’s hard to say as a person “I’m honestly making the most of it, but if I had to choose, the life of chronic illness wasn’t even one of my options.”

I find myself conflicted. While I believe optimism is the only way through this, I also hate that it’s my only choice. As the year comes to a close, my goal from 2018 onward is to do something for myself, however big or small, every single day. After all, I have to find a balance between accepting the cards I’ve been dealt and still playing my hand.

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Getty Images photo via jacoblund

Originally published: December 28, 2017
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