Now, for the first time in my life, I can say I truly know who I am. I’m aware of the parts of me that still need to heal, and I give space to the parts of me that still need room to grow. I don’t push myself beyond my limits to make others happy. I celebrate every win, big or small. I forgive myself for the days I’m unrealistically hard on myself. I surrender to the reality that there will be hard days ahead, and I do my best not to let my setbacks take away from the very real progress I’ve made.
I still have days when I feel the immense weight of living with chronic illness–I would be lying if I said I did not. The difference is, I’m finally in a place where I refuse to let those days make me question my worth or doubt my purpose. I won’t let the difficult moments define my existence.
I don’t think I will ever get to a place where I can say I’m thankful for my illnesses, but I will say I’m thankful for who I’ve become because of them. In a way, they’ve shaped my favorite things about myself and my life: my empathy for others. . . my ability to look for the good in impossibly hard situations . . . the deep relationships I’ve formed . . . my relentless determination . . . my hope to live a full life despite difficult circumstances . . . my gift for connecting with people . . . my journey of self-exploration . . . and my desire to see people for exactly who they are.
Could I have arrived at a place of being my true self without going through such heartache and pain to get here? Possibly. But I cannot deny that everything I have lived through has played a significant role in who I am today–someone I am proud to have gotten to know. Someone who is more than her illnesses.
Adapted Excerpt from Part of You, Not All of You: Shared Wisdom and Guided Journaling for Life with Chronic Illness by Jenneh Rishe. Reprinted with permission from Mascot Books. Copyright (C) 2022.