Sickness Sucks. You Do Not.

Sickness Sucks. You Do Not.

May 30, 2016 | Posted in: Chronic Illness and body image, Chronic illness and relationships, chronic illness; support

This is who I am now.

Maybe like me, you’ve mostly come to grips with who you are now. You know there’s no use in spending your days lamenting over whom it is you once were and those days of intense grief and mourning have passed. Grief being the sneaky little cuss it is still sneaks up on you at unexpected times and pantses you right in front of everyone. You recognize it as hard, unpleasant and vital work, which cannot be avoided. If only we got to choose when we did this work. If only we could send our grief a little text message and let it know now isn’t such a good time for us, but we’d be happy to get back with it later. But that isn’t how it works.

There’s one piece I still find particularly difficult to navigate. It’s that first time I have to introduce someone to “the new me.” The folks who’ve only ever known me sick are great because no explanation is necessary. But every once in a while I unexpectedly cross paths with someone who hasn’t seen or talked to me since my life changed so drastically. And I know there’s going to be a lot of explaining, shock, and adjustment. Maybe they’re going to make the same suggestions for getting better in the next ten minutes that have already been made and tried at least a thousand times. (And that’s just since last Tuesday)

But that’s not the hardest part. The hardest part is the look on their face. It’s the deer in headlights moment I have when I see them. It’s the flip-flopping I feel in my stomach at the thought of presenting this “new me” for the first time. It’s the tears I know may be shed in the bathroom after someone sees me roll up with my handicapped placard on the dashboard that first time. It’s the rawness. It’s the vulnerability, the realness of the butt-naked feelings that overtake me in those moments.

Sickness Sucks. You Do Not.

I was processing one of these moments, recently. I confessed to friends that it was hard to rather unintentionally share this version of myself with someone who’d known me “when.” When I didn’t need to park in the handicapped section– when life looked different– when I didn’t feel like a bullet someone had dodged. And as I confessed these things to my friends, grief snuck up and pantsed me right there. Stupid grief. Why did it hurt so much to be seen in this context when I knew I was a super cool chic? Why was I letting my parking spot say something about my worth or identity?

My precious friend spoke some truth to me in those moments, and they rocked my world. Today, I want to speak them to you. Maybe you know exactly what I’m talking about. You know how the walk from your car to the store parked in your handicapped parking spot can feel like a walk of shame. You know what it is to cringe when forced to introduce friends to the “new you” you never chose.

To you, I say: “You are so much more than a blue dude in a blue wheelchair (or a list of symptoms or medications). Don’t let that placard define you. Everyone has their issues. The grass may be greener on the other side, but you still have to mow it.”

And I’d like to add: There are so many good things about you. There are so many things you do well. You love well. And you persevere well. And you do all the other things that come with being you well.

You Are So Much More Than A Blue Dude In A Blue Wheelchair. Do you hear me?

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6 Comments

  1. Kelly S
    May 30, 2016

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    Thank you for writing this. You share from the hard places, and it brings hope to those sitting in the middle of hopelessness. You are *so* much more than a blue man. SO much more!

    • Stacey Philpot
      June 1, 2016

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      May your words bless many. 🙂

  2. Andrea Stunz
    May 30, 2016

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    This applies to so many circumstances where we find ourselves in a new place. I’m not chronically ill but I resonated with your experience in meeting new people as “the new you”. Thank you for sharing your life with us, Stacey. Your pain is not wasted.

  3. loriwildenberg@q.com
    May 30, 2016

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    Amen to what Kelly said. Thank you for raising awareness. God’s blessings!

  4. Jacklyn
    June 4, 2016

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    Your thoughts, written so sweetly, touched my heart. We can’t let ourselves think badly about who we are now. I never made the choice to turn my life around 360 degrees. IC happened. If I need a bathroom because I’m crying in pain, needing to empty a bladder on “Fire” a “blue parking placated” is what I need. NOW!!!
    So much lifelong illness, pain, can’t be seen. It’s a “New World.”
    I must keep “Praying for Hope” to be understood, when I don’t understand myself.
    We must keep our dignity, although everything else isn’t who we are.
    THANK YOU– God Bless

    • Stacey Philpot
      June 6, 2016

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      Jacklyn,

      If I ever meet IC in a dark alley, I will punch her in the face for the both of us. So much love to you, friend.

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