There are days…like today…when I grieve the loss of my old self.
“Do you remember when I could do stuff?” I ask Hubs.
“Do you remember when we went to Costa Rica? Remember zip lining? Remember whitewater rafting? Remember the adventure?”
“Do you remember when I went to Argentina by myself for five months? Remember how scared I was? Remember how I did it anyways?”
“Do you remember when we would wake up at 4:30 in the morning so we could be standing on the summit by 10?”
“Do you remember when I wasn’t afraid to eat food or be outside or live my life the way I wanted to?”
Of course he remembers. That is the Mandy he fell in love with. Not the sad blob wife that is sunken into the couch beside him.
I miss my old self. I want to be her again. I want to go back in time and tell her to quit worrying about everything so much, to quit worrying about what others thought, and instead to live her life and take every chance and try everything. Because one day, she won’t be able to.
But, of course, there is no going back.
That was me then. Who am I now?
Now, I am unsure. So many things that I used to define myself by are gone. Not that I don’t still love hiking, traveling, speaking Spanish, or being with friends. I just can’t do those things the way I thought I would always be able to.
So what am I left with?
My illness is a large part of my life now. Though I try not to let it be my entire life, it is hard not to define yourself by something that affects you every hour of every day. But it is also hard to define yourself by something that doesn’t have a name. Which support group do you join when you don’t know what you need support for?
So much of who I am as a person has been stripped away. But at the end of the day, I am the wife of the most amazing man. I am a friend to the many people who have stuck by me despite my apparent flakiness and inability to do cool stuff with them. I am part of a very cool, very supportive family. And I am a child of God. Even when I’m angry. Even when I’m hurting. Even when I don’t understand. My identity is secure in Christ, even if I feel like I’m on shaky ground.
Some days, I do grieve for the life that is no longer mine. But truthfully, I still have so, so many things to be grateful for.
New Mandy would like to be defined by her thankfulness and joyful spirit, even in the face of hard things.
If you’re also sick, how has the way you define yourself changed? How have you handled the changes?
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