Normally, my birthday wishes to Arthur wind up with me flipping it off.
This year, I’ve been grieving Arthur not being around as much.
It’s a catch-22 isn’t it? Because I don’t want to be sick – but I’m also missing a huge part of me, the biggest constant throughout the last 22 years of my life.
Not having contact with my family only intensifies that grieving. Arthur not being around is like losing someone close to you. He has been my best friend for so long, out of necessity more than choice, but still.
Many of us talk about this idea that having a chronic illness is like having a third unwanted person in your relationship.
Do I appreciate feeling better and being able to do things? For sure. But I miss him.
I don’t miss waking up with stiff joints, but I miss when he would gently wake me up and spend time with me in bed.
I don’t miss him sidelining me, but I miss knowing how my days were going to go.
I don’t miss staying home from work sick and in pain, but I miss watching Let’s Make a Deal with him while we eat comfort foods.
I’m learning how to walk again, with joints not constantly angry. I’m learning how to move, how to exist, what I look like without constant rash. It’s like a quarter-life crisis.
Perhaps part of the problem is knowing that, when I’m alone, now I’m truly alone… alone with the feelings that I still have a hard time processing… alone with the memories of growing up and being abused… alone with the self-anger I’ve felt from my PTSD, being angry that I can’t just turn it off… being mad at choices I’ve made or things I didn’t do right.
So much of the zeal I have for the things I do has been because I *knew* I would never be better. Now I sometimes find myself struggling to finish things up (like emails – sorry!).
We talk so much about how to try to be well with chronic illness that there is so little out there about what happens when we get there. I have heard those ideas echoed in cancer communities as well – what do you do when you’ve beat your foe, even if just for now?
In any case, Arthur, my friend, this body functions better without you, but this brain is having a hard time adjusting.