My disabilities don’t make me who I am. I don’t want someone else’s life, because that wouldn’t be me either. I wish many things weren’t the way they are, but I don’t want to be someone else. I’m getting very close to being 50 years old, and I’m OK being plain old disjointed, imperfect me. I can’t be anybody else. Trying to be someone else wastes the time I have.
I’m not able to do many of the things that I used to think defined me. I’m not able to work as an RN, and I miss that more than I can describe. I miss taking care of other people in the way that gave me so much satisfaction. I treated them as I’d want to be treated. I learned how to empathize with their pain, and in turn be a better human being. I miss those moments with someone who was going through something life-changing, and being able to offer some level of comfort. But being a nurse doesn’t really define me. I used to think it did. It’s a huge part of me, but it’s not all of me.
I’m diabetic, epileptic (temporal lobe nocturnal seizures), a cancer survivor (acute promyelocytic leukemia), I’ve got fibromyalgia, lung scars from multiple pulmonary emboli, bone spurs in my neck, chronic headaches, severe muscle spasms with any lifting or repetitive motion (groceries, trash, laundry), and dysautonomia, which causes severe heat intolerance, blood pressure and pulse changes, and very limited activity tolerance. And none of that defines me. It’s stuff that I have to deal with on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis…but it’s not who I am.
I had eating disorders for years (decades), but anorexia and bulimia don’t define who I am. I thought they did, and when I was in early recovery, I didn’t know who I would be if I wasn’t ‘the one who won’t eat’. But all eating disorders did was mask who I really am. They took away my ability to live normally and interact with people in a way that really put me into any sort of relationship. My main relationship was with the eating disorders. Nothing happened in my life unless I thought about how it would affect my ability to avoid calories. That was my primary motivation in everything; any sort of real friendship was put way down on my list of priorities- though I didn’t see that at the time. It was a very selfish time in my life that I’m not proud of. Eating disorders only steal time- they do nothing else.
Being a rape survivor doesn’t define who I am. It has had a huge impact on my life to have survived six hours of continuous sexual torture. It changed how I interacted with people, and my ability to allow anybody to get very close. But it’s still a relatively small part of my life… six hours changed a lot, but they didn’t change who I am at my core.
So, who (and what) am I? I’m an average human being who wants to be accepted and have people in my life who accept me, warts and all. I loved (and miss) all of my dogs, and am looking forward to getting a new puppy (and am waiting for her to be conceived at this time; I know where she’s coming from). I care about people, and my heart goes out to those I see on the news, and hear about on FaceBook. I miss my ‘old’ life before disability, but am learning to accept what my reality has become. Most of all, I love God. Without Him, I wouldn’t be here. The consistency I feel when I read through the Bible (especially Psalms and Proverbs when I’m feeling badly) is what I can depend on much more than I can with human beings, who are fallible just as I am. Every day is a chance to just ‘be’. I’ve had times when I thought that I would die, so life is precious. I realize that in spite of things that have happened, I’m very fortunate in so many ways. Some days, I don’t remember that as much as other days. But I do understand that I’m here for a reason, and I’m thankful for that.