The Mighty Logo

Dreaming of a World Perfectly Adapted to Meet My Chronic Illness Needs

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I’m sitting in bed, feeling alone … and liking it. I’m far away from the fog and damp of my home city. I’m far away from my partner and my friends. I’m far away from everything, except sand and mountains. I came here because I had to, in order to recover from mold allergy. I wasn’t expecting to love it so much. I’m surprised every day by the majesty of the landscape, the enormous sky, the sacred quiet. I love being alone. I crave it (almost as much as I crave love). I drink in the aloneness like gulps of cool, sweet water. Finally, I have enough.

For folks like us, who deal with illness, the world can feel barren and threatening. Life becomes all about survival. It’s rare to feel abundant with anything. On the other hand, we are more likely than others to appreciate what we have. I make a point of appreciating my alone time, partly to keep from feeling lonely, and also because it just feels good to appreciate something. My nervous system relaxes a little. I’m reminded that everything hasn’t been taken away from me. There are some things I have more of than ever before.

I know that having enough isn’t an amount or an outcome. It’s a feeling. For me, it’s the feeling that I don’t have to hold my breath waiting for something to happen. I don’t have to exhaust myself looking for something, or fighting to maintain it. I can take a deep breath. I can get on with my life.

If you had enough of certain things that you need, could it make up for having an illness? Could you imagine a world perfectly adapted to your needs?

In a world, perfectly adapted to me, I would have enough loving friends, a community with enough mutual respect and enough understanding about chronic illness, enough clients without having to do marketing, and enough money for my needs. If I had all that, I think I could live out my life contentedly, just as I am.

While I don’t have my perfect world, I try to take note when something I long for has been fulfilled. And I try to remember those moments when life feels good, or at least, “good enough.” I can think of times when I had enough companionship, my No. 1 need. My chronic illness bestie used to visit me, a few times a year. We would tell our stories; and everything we had to say was already understood, even before we said it. We would cry and laugh. We laughed at our goof ups, and laughed at what we had to put up with, and cried with relief from getting so much empathy. The demanding world outside faded away in the glow of our laughter. For those hours, life was good. I had enough.

I am smiling now, because I am reminded of a friend I knew 30 years ago, who had issues with overeating. She once joked, “I wouldn’t have to overeat if I could live with that Jamaican man … the guy I met last year on vacation, the one called ‘Dragon.’ He made love to me 10 times a day, and I didn’t overeat once!” She said this in front of her present boyfriend, who snorted, and rolled his eyes at the realistic limits of male anatomy. Thirty years later, I still remember her dream of getting “enough,” because it’s rare that someone names a dream, even a silly dream, out loud. Possibly because it can sound ridiculous. But, so what if it sounds ridiculous? Life is ridiculously hard!

There are times when dreaming doesn’t help. When my symptoms are really bad, it’s hard to believe in anything positive. All I see is the distance between me and any dream really happening.

What works for me best is to focus on the feeling I get from the idea of “enough”, whether it’s from my life, or a book, or movie, or my imagination. Here is a fantasy that popped in my mind one day. In this dream, I’m on a Greek island, with deep blue skies and white buildings. The sun is bright and hot; the shadows against the walls are a soft blue color. I’m doing my work as a healer, and I’m part of an international collective of healers. There is full permission to spend the day taking care of myself. I can give sessions or get help from a variety of experts. Wise and kind friends are just a few feet away, anytime I want. For whatever reason, that dream works well for me. It doesn’t spark feelings of lack or loss. It just makes me feel relaxed. It’s a good enough dream. For now, that’s good enough.

Photo credit: Maria Gavrilova/Getty Images

Originally published: March 13, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home