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Why I'm Embracing the Curveballs Illness Has Thrown My Way

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I find myself simultaneously holding onto a life that is no longer mine while playing a guest appearance in the life I’m now living. Temporarily making a cameo until I return to that which is me. I think that’s the hardest part about being “real” sick. Some part of you thinks it’s not real, it’s just a dream, any moment you’ll wake up and rejoice in your old life before the nightmare. Reconnecting and catching up on all the things you’ve missed while you were gone. Then something happens and it hits you like a wrecking ball – you’re already awake. You’re not a guest actor. You’ve been going through the motions, pining for another lifetime, the other you. The one you love and miss dearly.

headshot of young woman smiling

I heard a song on the radio the other day that I wasn’t really listening to until “it’s OK not to be OK, your tears don’t mean you’re losing” came blaring over the speakers. I was off in outer space contemplating life’s great questions like all the philosophers before me, and it brought me swiftly back into the present moment. I accepted in that millisecond that this is my “new life” and I wasn’t losing something. I was gaining a perspective, a level of humanity that would leave me forever compassionate and empathetic to the shadows behind smiles. A shared connection, yet a distinctiveness that kept me at a distance.

We all have reasons to expect things in our lives. We have visions of our lives and our futures and our accomplishments and our joys. Hell, we may even anticipate a few heartbreaks and setbacks. But in reality, no one has those visions work out completely because life offers us no certainties. But some of us confront such cruel contortions of a life-journey that we are stunned by it, and our instinct is to fight through in order to reclaim what we believe should have been ours – our original self-narrative – rather than accept and realize that particular idea of ourselves will never be in its entirety. The changes and adaptations that come with a life journey don’t have to be wholly and completely married to negative connotations. A new life vision isn’t the death of the old you. It’s a birth of an evolved you.

“In the end, we have to find some way of accepting what we cannot change, and not because it could be worse or that it is helpful to be optimistic, but because it is an essential part of coming to embrace one’s self in context. To live in circumstances that define you more than you wish and to be frustrated at the capricious nature of our burdens are means by which we craft a view to the world, reality and ourselves.

It is the raw material of our own defined lives, for no life is ever free to be completely self-created while every life is the product of some degree of choice. Most of us do not like the list of choices open to us and the truly interesting among us find a way of adding choices that don’t immediately appear to be options, but it remains true that we have in those limitations the means for our own distinctiveness, which is to say our most profound humanity.” – Professor T.V. McAllister, Pepperdine University

This quote has spoken to places in me I did not even know existed. It manifested hope where I felt confusion. It offered me comfort in knowing I wasn’t utterly alone but somehow unique.

We are all a product of people, experiences and things that intrinsically and extrinsically shape us, whether traumatic health concerns or the everyday curveballs life throws at us. How you choose to utilize those people, experiences and things can be a beautiful daydream or a dark nightmare. It is like Professor McAllister says: we have “the means for our own distinctiveness, which is to say our most profound humanity.” And that is the majesty of life.


This post originally appeared on Spoonie Essentials Box.

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Originally published: May 15, 2017
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