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Intentions for the New Year From a Lyme Warrior

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Intentions differ from resolutions, in that there is no finish line. They are ideas manifested from the soul and spirit on how you envision your future. Thinking about the future is not something I always want to do as someone with Lyme disease. It’s always uncertain. Our stakes are higher, like hospital trips, treatments that did not work, and flare-ups with no control on our end. It’s hard to set goals because if we don’t achieve them, it can feel like we set ourselves up for emotional failure.

It’s a cycle I’m still learning about within myself. It’s so confusing and conflicting to find a balance between my needs and wants. But I know there is something stronger beyond myself I can always accept, and that’s the work to love and grow even more. So here is what I put in my mental vision board for the second year of being a Lyme Warrior, 2017.

Protecting myself and my environment from negative, toxic people and their behaviors is essential for healing. Abuse and abandonment have no room in my life. I have a limited amount of energy and want to only spend it with my loved ones.

Let go of the past. This is literally so much easier said than done, but allowing the past and all its hauntings can and will poorly affect my health. Often our thoughts are also felt in the body. I can’t negate the fact that people with chronic illness can also experience depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The things we face in a day may be scary and horrible, and we can’t always control our thoughts. But when we can, and when it’s time, we can try to let go of the past.

Creating the importance of the present moment to open myself up to happiness. Yes, most moments are filled with pain, anxiety, fatigue, or any other random symptom, so there can be a survival instinct or emotional need to not want to be present. But in those dire times with Lyme disease, true humanity can show up clearer than ever. It’s like I have new eyes to see the people around me. That ER nurse who runs to get me a wheelchair. A family member gives me a ride in the middle of their work day. A loved one stays at the ER with me. True acts of giving without the imposition of reciprocity — this is unconditional love, right before our own eyes. I’ve never had as good a relationship with both my parents as I do after this year. Without staying in the present moment, I would have overlooked so much beauty, even when I experienced my worst nerve pain.

Pain has opened my eyes to a new world, where my body is a time bomb exploding at will, and there’s never certainty when or if I’ll get help. While learning to live through the worst pain imaginable, I have become the ultimate warrior, surviving my own mental and physical pain thresholds into the deepest corners of my very being. Let’s not take that so lightly or doubt our abilities. We are all strong. Sometimes it takes an outside reminder of this.

I am a woman, not a disease. I have career goals, like going back to finish my occupational therapy assistant degree when I’m healthy. And teaching yoga classes again! I often daydream of where I want to travel when I get better. My identity is my self-expression, my history, my future, my taste in books and music, all the things I love doing. I have loving relationships and my own home. These are the things I choose to identify with, not a parasitic bacteria.

I believe love is always an option and a choice. It takes a lot of love to face a disease and receive treatment. Love can translate, move between time and space, leaving a glow all around it. We can exhibit love however we feel it — maybe it is joy, frustration or bravery. Simultaneously, we can be open to receiving all forms of love, even if it isn’t what we want or expected. Love is strange, so hard and beautiful. Through self-love, it can be possible to live a life of peace, forgiveness and self-acceptance without strings attached that hold us back.

Connect with more people on social media. There is a vast world of people who are experiencing the same thing as you — all we need to do is a little searching. There is also vast knowledge exchanged in our communities. This has really helped me in times of dark confusion about treatments or a hurtful exchange with a healthy person. Some people don’t consider Lyme is disease, and sometimes doctors who follow limited standards for Lyme testing and treatment can fail us as patients. In my opinion, it’s not only doctors but the medical system itself that’s broken. But another way we, as sick people, can get more information and support is through our new peers. We can exchange experiences with people who are also going through this lonely nightmare. The more we connect online, the more power we have to get awareness out to the public and work for change.

Patience is no longer a virtue but a necessity. Time has a whole new meaning. Some days feel like they will never end, while mere seconds can seem like an eternity. We no longer have control over our schedule or bodies. Giving that up is so hard. Eventually we may see that most of what we think we can control, we really don’t. Clocks and calendars lose significance. Where the sun is throughout the day, I notice due to light sensitivity. As soon as it’s dark, I fight to stay awake a few more hours for a hope at routine. Learning to live this new way and releasing the constraints created by society and time is where I’d like to be more.

Start the idea of faith (or sraddha in Sanskrit). To me, this is different than self-love or self-care; to me, it means believing in yourself no matter what. Even when you can’t believe. That sraddha is bigger than my ego. While living in Hawaii, I was introduced to this word in yoga class, and got the verses tattooed on my side so I’ll never forget again. “Faith early in the morning, Faith at noonday will we invocate, Faith at the setting of the sun, Oh, Faith endow us with belief.”

Let you find your own intentions and way of living healthily this year. Let this be a reminder you have that ability. I am nowhere near perfect, but I’m getting ready for round two. I’m coming for you, 2017, my second year as a Lyme Warrior. Bless you on your path, and allow your intentions to create peace and happiness in this shared life of chronic illness.

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Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 29, 2016
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