When my husband said this to me I honestly experienced a paradigm shift but first I must explain…
I had gone from a world of hospitals, surgeries, medications, and not caring whether I lived or died to a life that I had no desire to live out. I hadn’t planned on surviving. I was sure I would not. I had been hospitalized for a blockage in my pancreas that took lengthy hospital stays, eleven in all, and seven surgeries to restore my pancreas back to health. This fight with idiopathic chronic pancreatitis took four years of memories, family gatherings, and time from me. It took a toll on my husband, our time together and my ability to be a participant in my life. I can remember almost nothing of those years so I fell into a deep, devastating depression. I couldn’t claw my way to the surface.
I knew three things had happened during those four years. Most of my family members were angry with my behavior, my husband was frustrated with my memory problems, and my primary care physician was extremely happy every time she saw me that I was still alive. Confusing, I know.
When you live with a chronic condition like Fibromyalgia Syndrome you tend to believe everything you experience relates to this syndrome. You may try to self-medicate, self- diagnose, and self-treat additional symptoms that come your way. I did. By the time I reached out for medical care, my pancreas was shutting down, starving my body of the nutrients needed to think, sustain weight, and remember. This leads to organ failure, then death.
How was I going to make up for the bad feelings my loved ones had about me when I couldn’t remember what I had done? I did get a lot of the blanks filled in by my husband and best friend Holly, who, by the way, never wavered in our friendship. I had acted very irresponsibly and my mental health was questioned. At this time no one knew, including myself, that my pancreas was shutting down. I went ahead and made my apologies but the damage was done. Letter after letter, email after email… “I’m sorry.” Finally, my husband said I must stop. I was fueling his anger towards my family without even knowing it. But my last-ditch effort was to apologize, face to face. And I did that and was met with, “You were really f**ked up.” There would be no understanding from many. But some did choose to understand, and some did choose to forgive. Others simply did not care, “get over it.”
I finally found some semblance of self-respect after I talked at length about my feelings with my husband. I was devastated that I was held in such disdain from those I loved so dearly. I felt I would never feel like a whole person again and any action I took was met with suspicion. This is when he said to me, “The environment dealt you a few bad hands. You survived! You are a fighter, that is what I see when I look at you.” His words reached into that dark place I was living in and opened a window, I could see the sunshine again.
So why am I revisiting this painful part of my past? I am here at this point in my life because of it. Besides, I want you to know you can make it out of the depths of despair because I did. I want to bring you hope.
Not everyone will like you even if they love you. There is no such thing as unconditional understanding but there is unconditional love. You do not have to apologize for being ill, people get it or they don’t. Unpack your emotional baggage, it is not taking you anywhere. Now it is up to you. You can choose to harden your heart and stay bitter or learn from it and start unpacking.