On Letting Go of the Old You and Embracing the New

July 2, 2015 | Posted in: chronic illness; support

Personally, one of the hardest parts of my illness has been the loss of the “old me”. The girl who could run three miles a day read into the late hours of the night and still have plenty of energy to pour into the people she loved the next day. Oh, how I grieved her. I missed everything from the texture of her hair to her ability to fully embrace and enjoy life. Looking back, I realize now that part of my quest for a diagnosis was fueled by the thought that if someone could just locate the source of the problem then surely they could correct it and give me that girl back. The girl that I liked better, everybody else liked better, you know, the one who was infinitely more worthy of love than this girl I had become?

If you had asked me before I got sick if believed love had to be earned, by good behavior and deeds I would have told you, “Absolutely not, love is a gift, freely given, it cannot be earned.” They say  adversity introduces you to yourself. It shows you what you believe. And it turns out, deep down; I believed the sick version of me wasn’t very lovable. Because she couldn’t do the things she believed were earning her keep all along. She couldn’t stay in shape, or come to the rescue of those in need.

One of the greatest things I have done for myself in this journey of battling for health is to let her go. Click To Tweet Heck, she could barely stay awake half of the time. Instead of helping others, she now needed help. It was uncomfortable, and apparently, in my mind- unattractive, maybe even unlovable.
One of the greatest things I have done for myself in this journey of battling for health is to let her go. That girl I used to be? Just let her go and embrace this woman I have become in spite of all of her limitations. This woman I have become, she’s rooted in grace. She’s let go of all of that needless striving. She’s come to realize who God created her to be hasn’t changed one bit and  what he called her to do hasn’t changed at all. This woman is going to do those things, regardless of how many diagnoses are pinned to her. This woman who thought she’d been stripped of everything has come to see she’s really only been stripped of all those false identities. This woman thinks if you can love her at 40 pounds overweight that’s amazing and if you can’t – Go with God. This woman is determined not to be defined by illness or any other circumstance but instead by who God created her to be.

If today you find yourself grieving that person you used to be and the things they could do, that’s okay. There is a season of grieving. Cry those tears. Feel those losses. But when the time comes, let them go. Find freedom in embracing the person you are today, the one who knows what it is to overcome adversity and meet others in that same place. Celebrate the wisdom and maturity, compassion and insight gained by what you’ve gone through. Maybe you’ve lost some physical function, but I guarantee you have gained some life-changing emotional function to be offered to others as they walk this very same road.

If you asked me today if I wanted that girl back, the one that I used to be, my answer would be, no. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have her shape and she did have cute hair. But I’d rather have this woman I’ve become’s insight and determination. They’re worth more to me. I have chosen to let the “old me” go, and embrace the “new me.”

What about you? Will you let go of the old you and embrace the new?

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15 Comments

  1. Andrea
    July 2, 2015

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    “adversity introduces you to yourself” Yep! And it’s not an easy process. I believe that your blog and this post could span across to anyone who is not necessarily chronically ill but has endured great loss and pain of any kind. Keep fighting. Keep writing.

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 2, 2015

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      Yes! We all have seasons of adjusting to “new normal” having to let a previous version of ourselves, our life and all that it included go and embracing the new versions.

  2. BreAnna Fowler
    July 2, 2015

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    I’ve decided that God chooses some of the strongest people to go through suffering. He shines so much more as you shake off your own strength and live in His. You have an amazing heart and I hear Jesus in your words. Purpose in the journey. Keep going!

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 2, 2015

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      Or adversity makes some of the strongest people if we will allow it to 🙂 I have found that there is much “sick shaming.” If this person had more faith then they would be whole, etc.. But what if God is glorified in our weakness? What if trusting God in that weakness is a testament of our faith? Just as you said, as we cast off our perceived strength and operate in his we can bring him much glory. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. Much love!

  3. Aundi
    July 3, 2015

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    Oh this. What a beautiful and heart wrenching description of grief and adjustment. Thanks for writing.

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 3, 2015

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      Thank you for your love and support!

  4. Karen Stell
    July 3, 2015

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    This was the hardest thing to do for me. I still struggle with accepting that I can’t do the things I used to do. Thanks for posting. Love your heart!

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 3, 2015

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      Karen, I don’t think people realize how painful those losses can be. I am learning to look for the work arounds and exchanges. If I can’t do it this way, what about that way? I had to give up this but I gained that. And then the things that you decide that you are just going to do anyway, regardless of the cost. Calculated investment and rebound structures. Thirty minutes with Avery outside in the middle of the day will cost me two days of recovery. It’s not something I can do often, but it’s something that I make sure to do when it really matters. We won’t spend every day of the summer outside like other families, but we certainly will take a family beach trip. Calculated investments and rebound structures. I know you understand this better than almost anyone else!

  5. Shawn
    July 5, 2016

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    I needed these words this morning. I believe that Lyme has a tendency to take down the “doers” more so than the couch potatoes. Or maybe the doers just push to get back to doing. Either way, recognizing the grief of losing the women we used to be is a necessary process. If we don’t go through it, I think we will find ourselves in a out of depression.

    Thank you for sharing so openly.

  6. Bay
    July 7, 2016

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    You have put into words j have struggled to find for 4 years now. The ache deep down. The loss of cleaning my own home. My doctors saying I am my worst enemy, let her go and embrace your new you. I hated her. I hated what she could not do. Having help taking a shower, walking to the mailbox. I resented her. Yet God has bigger and better plans. I am still His creation. I have felt so lonely until I have read your words. For the first time in 4 years I do not feel alone. Thank you and all of you all who have responded. I’m not alone.

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 9, 2016

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      Bay,
      You Are Not Alone. And God still has some amazing adventures planned for you, even if they look a little differently than you expected. Keep running your race. Your value hasn’t changed based on what your body can do on a given day. Your body might be broken but YOU are whole.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Stacey

  7. Melissa
    July 9, 2016

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    Wow!!! Reading this changed everything for me! Due to my physical issues this year, my mental health had tanked. The depression had become overwhelming because I was mourning the loss of my former healthy self. Then I read this and it opened my eyes. Thank you. You saved me. You lifted me up. I am going to stop feeling sorry for my self. I’m not ever going to feel like I did before my vascular issues, but I’m ok with that now. Your words helped me more than you could ever know.

    • Stacey Philpot
      July 9, 2016

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      Melissa,

      I can’t even tell you how much I love to hear that your eyes are being opened to all the GOOD that is still in store for you! Thanks for sharing this with me today.

  8. Linda Graham
    July 29, 2016

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    This article is just what I needed. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness six years ago at the same time a lot of changes were occurring in my life. I had no clue what to think or do. I forged ahead to do the things I did before, help everyone as I always had, and keep all the balls in the air. When I couldn’t, guilt filled me. The full weight of what has happened and how my life has changed set in within the past couple of years. I’ve become reclusive and isolate myself as much as possible. I haven’t decided what’s worse, the loneliness from the isolation, or having to explain to people and dealing with the indifference, as well as the lack of compassion and understanding. I’ve been battling anger, sadness and grief. I, too, greive the woman I use to be and miss the things I use to do. I’m still struggling to let go of that former woman. Philosophically and spiritually, I know those things were not who I am but what I did. However, my heart hasn’t quite caught up with my mind, yet. Your article is very encouraging and helps me in my struggle to put things in perspective and let go. Thank you. Blessings to you and yours.

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