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To My Partner Who Has Remained By My Side Through Illness

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Everyone living with a chronic illness knows that one of the worst parts of the whole ordeal is not having a strong support team. We may spend many days feeling invalidated because people brush our conditions aside. What we look like on the outside oftentimes doesn’t match the way we feel on the inside.

They may not believe that sometimes in our realities, breathing hurts, walking hurts and our hearts beating hurts. Almost every day, many of us wake up more tired than we went to sleep, which is saying something because our exhaustion seems to be a product of days or weeks, not mere hours. We may no longer know what it feels like to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Many of us lie in bed for what seems like forever after we first open our eyes in the morning, and many times – at this point – we weep silently because the pain is so great that we really don’t think we can move a muscle, much less make it through the day. This sort of pain should be the result of days of insomnia, a week of weight training, poor eating habits, a marathon, a concussion and being run over by a truck all at once, but that isn’t the case. Our bodies are attacking themselves.

I was thrown into a downward spiral since becoming ill almost five years ago. My mental health and emotional stability declined right along with my physical well-being. I struggled with my spirituality, asking God what lesson He was trying to teach me, and what things I had to unlearn. And then you came into my life, with challenges of your own, but with such light that you made everything better.

Your encouragement helped me go to God when I thought I couldn’t. You became the person I could share my deepest fears and most fervent wishes with, when previously I kept all to myself. You were a breath of fresh air. You showed me what genuine love is, and slowly I learned to love in return. Because of you I learned that seeking comfort isn’t weakness.

You understood – not in the sense of having an experiential grasp of my mental and physical flare-ups, but you got that my apparent external disposition is just a mask covering the inner struggle I go through every day. You ask me countless times throughout the day how I’m feeling, genuinely concerned about my well-being by the hour. You have to constantly remind me that I’m not a burden because of my condition, and even if you have to tell me the same thing 100 times, you do it.

You’re always wondering how you can help me feel better, how you can relieve the pain or how you can calm the fears constantly foisted upon me by the anxiety that’s my sneaky companion. Every time, you realize that you’re not God, that all you can do is be there and to you it’s not enough. To me, though, it is.

It is enough to have you by my side through every symptom and struggle, to have you hold my hand or offer me your shoulder when I need it or to lovingly allow me to stain your shirt with my tears. It is enough to have you there to share the way I feel without fear of judgment, condemnation or the dreaded disbelief and nonchalance. It is enough to know that you’d fight for me and defend me against the harsh words of others.

Most of all, it is enough to know that despite everything – the conditions and their manifestations, the lack of support from other people who should and the general feeling of the tide always being against us – you’re prepared to stay here and stick it out with me, even though I’ve told you many times that you don’t have to. It is enough to know that nothing can persuade you to run away or turn your back like many others have done.

I appreciate you. For all that you have done and for your staunch, unwavering support, thank you.

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Thinkstock photo via Image Source White.

Originally published: April 28, 2017
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