There’s a moment when it hits you, that because of your illness you’ve been forgotten. You’ve tried to stay around, to not disappear every time your pain level spikes, to help out other people even when you’re hurting, but it wasn’t good enough. You did everything to pretend that you were well so that you could fit in and belong with the normal people, but you failed. You have faded because You are not like Them.
You can’t do everything they do, so you don’t belong. There is a barrier between you and them, a barrier that is very difficult to cross. Despite all the work you do to try to cross it, in the end only they have the power to reach across the barrier and pull you to the other side. Other people are moving on with their lives. They’re managing their careers, creating families, developing new friendships. And you, your life depends on how bad the weather is that day, or how long it takes you to recover from standing in line at the DMV, or whether or not the doctor screwed up your prescription. You don’t know or understand what is going on in your body, but you wish that somehow you friends did. Because maybe that would take away the pain.
Your life is
Sometimes you feel ashamed. Like it’s all your fault that you’ve found yourself alone. If only you could have done better or fought harder. If only you hadn’t pushed people away to avoid judgment and hurt. If only you could be better, happier, stronger, or more selfless. You must have become too withdrawn, too prideful for others to want to be around you.
Sometimes you feel guilt. Guilt for not being able to keep up with everyone else. Why can’t you just do the things you are expected to do? Why do you always fall short? Maybe it’s your fault that you can’t seem to do enough or keep up. Maybe this is something you asked for. You were probably not trying hard enough, you don’t have a good enough attitude, you might be a bad person because this doesn’t happen to “good people,” and really it’s just your fault for not having enough faith.
You exist in a space of blame. You’re blamed for your illness, you’re blamed for not overcoming your illness, you’re blamed for not ignoring your illness, you’re blamed for not being positive about your illness, you’re blamed for not organizing your illness, you’re blamed for not making a doctor help you, you’re blamed for handling your illness the wrong way. Everywhere you look there is blame and it all sits on you. The weight of blame doesn’t go away.
But it’s alright you’re doing fine, you’re a survivor. You’ve been beaten and bruised and you haven’t given up yet. You keep going against insurmountable odds. Every time you are forced to face a new battle you somehow find the courage. Even if no one else sees it, you are a chronic illness warrior.