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The 'Messy Middle' of Returning to the Real World After Years of Healing

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When I got really sick, I created a “when I’m better” list of all of the things I planned to do when I felt better.

One of the things was start a business.

I had no idea what type of business, but I knew it was in me, ready to be birthed, and that the details would come at the right time.

Over the past few years, I started taking steps towards this goal — reading, listening to podcasts, discovering my passions and interests, and taking online workshops.

Throughout all of this, I had unexpected crashes — mold exposures and Lyme flare-ups that set me back and made this goal seem like it was so far away.

And that’s when I realized I had this belief that I had to be 100% better before starting anything. I was putting so much pressure on myself to get better quickly so I could work again and create the lifestyle I wanted for myself.

When healing from Lyme disease, there’s so much talk of “remission.” To me, remission always seemed like a golden carrot dangling in front of my face as a reward for doing the “right” treatments with the “right” doctors. At times, it felt like a far-off place where I could go back to living my normal life. Where I had tons of energy, felt joy and happiness, and could do whatever I wanted. To me, remission felt like freedom.

Looking back, waiting for “remission” wasn’t healthy. I would put off things I wanted to do because they would be easier to do when I was in remission. I would tell myself that I would work more when I was in remission.

I was actually using “remission” as an excuse not to do things that I was afraid of doing. And this realization was terrifying and enlightening at the same time.

I had a conversation with a friend and we talked about how there are so many stories and Instagram accounts of people being super sick, or in remission and leading active lives — and not so many in between.

So what about this space? The space where we are following our passions, our dreams, making changes in the world, and taking time out to focus on our health, go to appointments, and get our bodies back into balance?

This is the messy middle space. Where we are learning how to rejoin the world after months, years, or even decades of being too sick to work, to function, to show up at all. Where we are learning how to balance our health and work. How to balance helping others and helping ourselves.

There is no guidebook for returning back into the world after time away. Everyone’s journey will look different.

There may be overwhelm, frustration, setbacks, anger, and confusion.

And know that’s totally normal. It’s not easy.

It’s not black and white. This gray area is filled with trial and error, “mistakes,” learning, and being compassionate with yourself.

Sometimes it looks like not being able to work for a significant amount of time to focus on your health. Sometimes it looks like working too much, crashing, and being forced to slow down and take time off. Sometimes it looks like working more in one week than you have in years and celebrating.

Today I choose to celebrate starting a new business — an entirely new career path. There’s tons of fear — putting myself out there in new ways brings up tons of triggers — but I am taking each trigger as it comes, knowing that each one is providing me another opportunity to grow, to heal, and to show up in an even more powerful way.

Originally published: May 3, 2022
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