A dense fog of resentment effortlessly settles in the hearts and minds of anyone diagnosed with a serious, life-changing illness. Hope of the fog giving way to sunny days becomes less and less with each passing moment we allow the fog to stay. Having a chronic illness can easily paint the picture of a life that has let us down. Growing up, we eagerly anticipated our passage into adulthood, our passage to freedom. Understandably, this makes having a chronic illness thrown into our laps, rather than exciting career opportunities and the like, seem like a slap in the face. And as the fog continues to thicken, the feeling that life has let us down does as well.
As time goes on and we celebrate one birthday after another in the same bed as the years begin to blur together, the idea our lives have ended before they even had a chance to begin surfaces every once in a while. For some, the thought never leaves. Being ill or disabled can, and often does, brew a disastrous hurricane of negative feelings even within the purest of hearts. By allowing bitterness to consume us, we create what we fear the most, as negativity stemming from strong roots of resentment lowers our immune systems. At this point, life is not letting us down -we are letting ourselves down. By harboring resentment towards our situation, we indirectly worsen it and aid in the progression of our illnesses.
Letting go of resentment is essential to finding joy in life -and it does not in any way, shape, or form involve having resentment towards the fact that we spent so much time resenting life in the past. Instead, we prohibit our pasts from defining our futures by realizing the ending of our old lives merely marks the birth of new ones, given we seize the beautiful opportunities produced by struggle to grow, to explore our inner selves, and to stop and look at the sunset and breathe in the now every chance we get. Releasing attachment to the past forces us into the present. Our futures are not defined by our pasts. They are defined by our current struggles, and how we choose to deal or not deal with them.
Unfortunately, much ignorance in the medical community continues to haunt the Lyme disease community and prohibits many from ever receiving proper treatment. Because the FDA and CDC have cast chronic and late stage Lyme disease as fake, or trivial, people with Lyme must seek out Lyme literate doctors for treatment. These specialists are unable to accept insurance due to obvious legal obstacles, making it quite expensive to see one. Many cannot afford to do so because Lyme disease has left them disabled and unable to work, so they remain untreated and many lives are lost due to this. Although I was fortunate enough to see Lyme specialists in the beginning of my journey, I was still very much conscious of the many that could not. So, I focused a wealth of hatred and resentment towards the conventional medical world when I first fell ill. Tirelessly fighting for the CDC and FDA to recognize chronic Lyme disease as real and debilitating so insurance companies would cover treatment for chronic Lyme disease, therefore allowing more Lyme patients to be treated, seemed noble at the time. That it was, at its core, stupidity is more accurate. Not because I was wrong in wanting better medical care for Lyme patients, but because in doing so I in many ways neglected caring for myself. In the early days of treatment, much time and energy was spent fighting external battles rather than fighting the internal one which mattered the most at the time, the one for my life.
When I was brave enough to dig deeper and see the matter for what it was, I realized the majority of my resentment subconsciously reflected the resentment I held towards myself for being too cowardly to face my own truth before facing the ones of the world. How could I ever know what was right for others if I was simultaneously making the wrong choices for myself? Yes, the way the vast majority of conventional medicine neglects the issues of chronic Lyme disease is unfair and unjust. But neglecting my own self was also unfair and unjust to both myself and the Lyme community as a whole. Eventually, I realized making substantial changes for others was impossible if I did not first make some within myself. A person cannot heal others until they first heal themselves. I am no exception.