Dear fabulous creatures,
Life has been crazy, which nowadays is normal for me. Does that make it less crazy? I’m not actually sure…but I digress. In a wonderful turn of events I’ve found a place to live, and even though it isn’t ideal, it is far better than the situation I’m currently in, so I’m trying my best to fight the part of me that’s a grumpy little asshole and be optimistic. My optimism is laced with anxiety and stress; in the next three weeks, I’ll be working both my jobs, packing up, moving, then traveling to Michigan to spend Christmas with a wonderful friend. While most of these events are positive, it all is going to take one thousand percent of my effort, which converted into average person effort seems inadequate. Through all the hustling and bustling I’m left wondering, can I really handle all this?
I have written before about minimizing, gas-lighting and other annoying things people do to us chronically ill folk. However, I don’t think I’ve brought up one that I’ve been experiencing especially often lately. I call it the Unicorn Problem. If that phrase means something else, forget about that definition because mine is better. Okay, well I don’t know about that, but just go with it, okay?
Between my chronic illness, my abusive family and then loss of family, break-ups, moves, and other tasking surprises my life has presented me with, I’ve almost always had to exert myself more than I really should. I push myself in the words of Deadpool, putting in my “maximum effort,” and usually regret it. I end up in CFS relapse or some version of sick that makes accomplishing my goals even more difficult than it already was. When I talk to those I care about, they often reply, “just believe in yourself, you’ll get through it!” While this is a potentially harmless, rainbow and dolphin-filled exclamation, they’re missing the point (or should I say horn? No?…sorry).
I completely agree that we should absolutely believe in ourselves. Having faith instilled in us that we can overcome great obstacles can keep us moving forward through even the most nightmarish periods of life.Not to mention having the support of the people I love is immensely important to my wellbeing. My problem with telling a chronically ill person this, though, is that it insinuates that I am somehow responsible for my physical pain and illnesses, that I’m not trying hard enough, or that I need an attitude adjustment. Furthermore it assumes that I will “get better” from my chronic illnesses while denoting how much blood and glitter I put into every bit of stardust that my life is comprised of.
Allow me to say it louder for the people in the back: Chronically ill people are not unicorns. No matter how hard we believe, stomp our feet or clap our hands, we will not magically become less sick. I’m not saying that our minds don’t affect our bodies; on the contrary, I constantly affirm how emotions and mental illnesses cause physical and mental suffering. But again, the problem lies in how flighty the phrase, “just believe in yourself,” truly is, and how it often feels like a dagger being shoved into my heart, even when it is meant as innocently as possible.
If you’re wondering what a better phrase may be, how about saying, “I understand that you have a great deal to overcome, more than most, but I believe in you, and I know you’ll get through this.” Acknowledging pain is unbelievably important. A few days ago I wrote a fairly depressing post, and as I’ve mentioned before, I often feel immediately guilty after hitting “publish.” I must constantly affirm that the very reason I created this blog was not to romanticize illness. I created this blog to be a raw reflection of my life, for all the goodness and all the misery, because every part of my life contributes to who I am as a person.
As I reach the end of this post I come to understand that the largest reason I find the Unicorn Problem insufferable is because being someone who is chronically ill and in constant pain takes more faith and mental strength than many others realize. Those of us who are chronically ill have to wake up every single morning and make the decision that we will tirelessly fight through our days despite all our illness, and making that decision is never easy. Nearly every morning I find myself wishing for more rest as it seems I am always lacking, and feel pain surging through me. Despite it all, I have to convince myself to get my day started. If that isn’t a testament to how much I believe in my abilities, I simply don’t know what is.
I may not be a unicorn with a luxurious mane, a spiraling horn and a satin coat. However, I think that myself and others like me are equally impressive. The strength it takes to be like us is certainly something extraordinary, and even if others don’t acknowledge it, we always should. For all we have overcome, all we are currently fighting, and all that we will do, every part of our lives deserve to be seen and heard. If there is one thing our society needs more of, it’s belief that every part of a human life is important, even the not so pleasant parts.
Whatever you are fighting or suffering through, if you feel that you are lacking acknowledgment or belief, know this my darling reader; I know how alienating and alone being constantly unwell feels and I see you. I believe in you just as I believe in myself, and that will never stop, even on the days that every single part of my body is screaming in pain. I will scream too, and I will cry because of my discomfort, but even if I lose a thousand times over, I will keep going. I will always keep going not because I’m a unicorn, but because I am me, and after an entire lifetime of self deprecation, I’m finally starting to realize that that’s pretty spectacular, too.
And this will be,
The one moment that matters.
And this will be,
The one thing we remember.
And this will be,
The reason to have been here.
And this will be,
The one moment that matters at all.