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A Journal Entry and Letter To My Illnesses

A little background about this post.  I feel for me that my illness has a purpose.  The purpose was constructed in childhood when I thought that being ill would protect me from being hurt.  Throughout my life it has felt that illness is my safety net…that people wouldn’t hurt me if they knew I was sick.  I have been fighting for years in therapy and on my own to deal with this “need” to be chronically ill.  I have had some successes that were short-lived and then illness would spring up again and sometimes a new illness would show up.  At this point, I have to admit that I am just tired.  I am tired of fighting it each and every day.  It seems that it is time for a softer approach.  It is time for me to lay down my sword for a while and pick up my pen and paintbrush.  I want to take a time out and try to enjoy life and creativity.
The two sections below are a two-part journal entry that I wrote last night.  My theme for 2011 is “The Year of Compassion” and interestingly I think without realizing it, what I wrote below is really me beginning to have some compassion for myself.  In fact reading back through it this morning created a lump in my throat like I was going to cry.  I truly feel for this person who has fought so hard the last several years.
Journal Entry.  Date: January 2, 2011 4:57 PM
What if I don’t want to be well?  Is that okay?  That seems like such a horrible thing to say…that I don’t want to be well.  Especially when so many people are fighting so hard to be well.  But, maybe being well is too threatening for me.  What are the emotions the benefits that I think I would feel if I really wanted to be well and I achieved it?  I would have energy, I would be able to do the things I want to do, my meds/doctor visits wouldn’t cost us anymore money.  What would I lose if I were well?  My excuse not to work a “real” job.  My connection to the chronic illness/abuse world.  The safety I perceive that illness affords me.   So, what if I allowed myself to be intentionally sick?  What if I just said okay, I am going with this?  Well, Laura Hillenbrand did it and she found the ability to focus on being a phenomenal author from her bed (not that she wants to be sick, of course).  I would lose the constant judgment against myself that I haven’t healed yet.  I would maybe better pace myself because I wouldn’t be pretending that I was doing better than I was.  I could focus on helping the people I understand and who understand me.  Life would be easier.  I could rest when I needed to without guilt.  I could actually lose so much guilt if I were sick and there was nothing I could do about it.  Now that I think about it, guilt that I haven’t healed myself is eating me up and wearing me out and making me feel like a total failure.  So, what if I assumed I couldn’t be healed and went on about my business of writing my novels, helping others to deal with their illness the best they could, running my local support group, working on myself to grow spiritually?  What then?  Would I feel better about myself?  Right now, yes, I think I would.  It would be such a huge weight lifted from me.  It would allow me to not focus so closely on healing (or my illness) all day everyday.  Maybe that in and of itself would allow for some healing…because if I wasn’t thinking constantly about being ill, then I wouldn’t constantly be bringing my vibration to thoughts of illness versus thoughts of writing a novel, helping others, growing spiritually.  The latter are all positive things that have merit.  I could still do them if I am ill and do them without wasting all the energy on fighting with my body to heal or struggling with questions of how do I heal?  Why aren’t I healing?  Right now, I can’t act like I am sick because I am supposed to be getting better only so much of my psyche is clinging to illness that I am not consistently getting that much better.Below is the second part of the entry.  It is a follow-up letter to my illness:

Hello illnesses!  Thank you for being here for me my entire life.  I asked for you and you obliged.  And each time I have felt threatened, you have stepped forward with further illness.  I realize that I have externally fought you at just about every turn the last few years.  I also now realize that internally I have tried to hang onto you with all I have.  Then I have felt self-righteous because I was working so hard to heal my body of illness.  Ha!  Deep down, I never wanted you to leave.  Oh, maybe for a moment in time, here and there, I felt strong enough to seriously think of letting you go.  But this was not the usual case.  Usually I was telling myself how hard I was working to heal while subconsciously (or maybe even a little consciously) I was working just as hard to hold onto you.  You have been an excellent and loyal friend.  Even when I tried to drop you like a bad seed, you knew my heart and you stuck by my side.  Maybe you gave me momentary symptom relief as a reward for my valiant efforts, but mainly you stuck around knowing that in the end I didn’t truly feel safe without you.I don’t know where we go from here, dear illnesses.  I am realizing that maybe I am not ready to let you go.  I am thinking that maybe I want you to run in the background for a while so that I can explore being an author, a blogger, an artist and whatever else knowing that you are there to catch me if I falter.  Certainly I think the energy I free up by not fighting you could go along way towards fueling these other activities and interests of mine.

So, are you okay with maybe not having center stage because I am not fighting you, but knowing that your position in my life is secure?  Could you allow me the space, time and energy to follow some of my lifelong interests and only make yourself known when I need to take a break or I am pushing myself too hard?  Could you maybe play second fiddle for a bit while I figure out what else in my life is worthy of my focus and attention?

I promise that I won’t try to eradicate you or pretend that you don’t exist.  I will not think I am so superior that I can throw you out like yesterday’s garbage without a look back.  After all, you have been my longest and strongest relationship my entire life.  I promise I will not be so rude as to ditch you for my newest fling without giving us the chance to talk, to end this thing civilly and rationally.  We are partners in this life and we will only dissolve this partnership when both of us are ready.  Okay?

Thank you for listening and for always being here for me when I need you.  We will stay in touch, we will talk and still spend time together, so no need to feel threatened.  In the end, I respect the part you have played in my life and won’t belittle what you have meant and for now still mean to me.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Anonymous January 4, 2011, 1:34 pm

    Wow Tamara very interesting. It sounds like you have achieved acceptance of your illnesses. I wonder if by doing so, you will have a better quality of life. It is exhausting fighting it and/or pretending that it's not there. Maybe I should take a similar stance. Maybe it will ease the burden just by accepting the illnesses that create havoc in our bodies, minds, and relationships.

  • Tamara January 6, 2011, 1:09 pm

    It is exhausting fighting the illness. And it just keeps winning! I don't think I will ever give up trying to heal as much as I can. I guess the difference is focusing on healing vs curing. Maybe I can't cure the illness, but by healing, I can hopefully find a more harmonious balance of body, mind and spirit so that I am no longer suffering from the illness.

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