Well it seems the worst of that flare is behind me, thank goodness. After 24 years with Spondylitis, I didn't know it could get that bad - with a fever and everything. The fever really hit something home for me: my body is attacking itself. For all of those fellow sufferers, you may be thinking "well duhh, it's an auto-immune disease" and logically? I know that. I've always known that. But the fever was this weird, very real reminder that my entire body is actually foreign to itself. As you can imagine, that comes with certain emotional ramifications.
For all intents and purposes, I think I'm a good egg :) I've come into my own over the past few years and really know myself more than ever. I know what kind of mark I want to leave on this world and I think I've already begun. I like myself and I'm confident that people like me. I know I'm worth sticking around for (something that I always struggled with), but there is something about this auto-immune business - the fact that my very body rejects itself - that makes this acceptance a bit difficult at times.
The 20s are supposed to be this time of self-discovery, right? Learning and growing and building a life of your own.. a career, lasting relationships, a name for yourself, that sort of thing. So while it's supposed to be an exciting time (and mostly it is), it also seems like a lot of pressure. Fighting illness simultaneously makes it even more complicated and, as I was sitting around this weekend fighting off tears, I had some tough thoughts about myself: So if my body thinks it's the enemy, was I some cosmic mistake? A rough draft of sorts?
Silly, I know. Oh where oh where has that confident-sounding blogger gone? But that kind of pain tends to send your mind in all kinds of directions, unearthing insecurities you didn't even know you had. I wish I could put my mind on pause during those times. I wish I could just relax and be kind to myself like I would with anyone else going through the same thing. I wish I could trust that the flare will end.
The truth is, I don't know what I'll be able to do in a few years. I don't know if the stresses inherent to social work are in the cards for me or if I'll be completely independent financially. I don't know how much I'll need to rely on others or if I'll ever be well enough to create someone who can rely on me. I don't know what my body will face or the course this disease will take. But, at the end of the day, who really knows these things? Life is unpredictable just like disease and what I do know is that I know myself. I believe in myself and that means a lot. I didn't do a great job of holding on to this truth during this latest flare, so the trick will be remembering that through the good, the bad and the ugly....
A big thank you to all of my wonderful readers that sent words of encouragement during a tough week. I feel very lucky to have you.