One thing I truly love about writing is that I get to be completely real. We all have struggles and trials in our lives, and yet we cease to talk about them. We paste on a fake smile and play the tough guy while inside we're falling apart. Well my writing is my safe zone to be real. No fake smiles, no masks, no reminiscence of a barbie doll, and no sugar coating. Just me and my inner most thoughts and feelings; imperfections and all. Sometimes coping isn't possible if you can't get your thoughts and feelings straight, and I suppose that this is my way of saying "Hey, I'm real. I'm a human being. No, I don't look perfect right now. Yes I'm in pain right now. And yes, I did just spend my entire day in bed because of my chronic illness and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that."
With that said, I'm going to be completely real with you now. The holidays are not easy. They never have been. Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas, and I acknowledge the most important parts of the holidays. But even then, there are some days that I'm in too much emotional and physical pain to care about the holiday season at all. Two Christmases ago, my mother was so sick that she could barely get out of bed to spend Christmas morning with us. Since then it feels like the domino effect has taken place in my home and family life. Just one thing after another. What do I have to be thankful for when I don't even really have the strength or motivation to get out of bed on some mornings? How do I put the happy into the holidays when knives are stabbing me in the stomach and my legs feel like they're going to give out at any moment? Where's the merry in Christmas when I'd rather do anything but lie in pain, but my chronic fatigue rather have me lay in bed. I was doing so much better for a couple of weeks, and then it's almost as if my Lyme got bored and decided to torture me for its own sick joy.
A few nights ago I lay on my floor, wincing in pain, and praying for some relief. The tears burned down my smeared face and discouragement flooded my mind and heart. All I wanted was a form of rest at that moment. With Chronic illness sleep (if you can obtain it) is your best friend. Your brief escape. Your peace of mind for the time being. I'm so grateful that even despite all the pain I feel, I'm still able to sleep soundly and forget my agony for a small moment. And with that, there are so many more small moments in life that I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of.
Coping with chronic illness is all about looking to the small moments. I'm so grateful for my family and close friends that I have that bless me with those small memories of joy during a hard time in my life. Life is not all bliss, but seeing the bright side of even the smallest things will bring just enough light into life to make it through the day. So to all that are struggling through the holidays, (or anytime of the year in that case) you're not alone. You're loved, and I pray that every small moment of joy will flood your heart which in turn will allow sorrow to flee from your mind. Look to the little bits of joy that life brings. It's those things that will get you through your hardest times. I hope your holiday season to be full of love, and I hope we can all find Christ in Christmas. I wish you enough strength to get through the holiday season. Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas.
My dad woke me from my restless slumber with an exhausted breath of air. I groggily rolled over on my lumpy air mattress and looked at my phone. 2:00am. I inquired as to why he woke me as he instructed me to turn my phone off due to Mom's hypersensitivity to electricity. All of a sudden I understood why he woke me as the familiar groans of extreme pain filled my ears. I'd gotten so used to hearing my mother's cries in the middle of the night that my heart was almost numb to the heartbreak that came with each cry. I did as I was told and watched as Dad made his way back upstairs through the dark shadows of the house to tend to my mother.
I rolled over and pulled the blankets closer to me. My sister's basement was so cold, and my air mattress felt like it was trying to swallow me up. I contemplated moving to the couch in attempt to get warmer, but I couldn't convince my exhausted body to move. I contemplated the events that had taken place in the last few weeks. It had only been a couple weeks since my parents and I had left our house in the middle of the night and moved in with my sister and her husband in order to flee from the electrical power lines that towered up next to my house. My mom once described her hypersensitivity to electricity as "literally feeling the electrical current moving through her veins." I shuddered at the thought of that level of physical pain searing through someone's body and rubbed my eyes in frustration. So many memories of horrific nights surged through my memory as I lay in discomfort. Eventually I was able to lull myself back to sleep, despite my hyperventilating mind.
I woke up to a sudden rush of agitation. My Dad had woken me again and his voice sounded desperate. I knew something was wrong as he informed me that Mom's symptoms had increased and she was continuously getting worse. I wasn't quite sure what he meant by that, but I knew it was going to be a long night. I quickly threw my covers off of me and rolled off the edge of my mattress. A cold burst of air slit through my nerves as I got up and ran upstairs. I ignored the cold and made my way to my mother's bedside, catching a glimpse of the kitchen clock. 4:00am.
As I entered the room, my older sister was already settled on the side of my mom's bed. My throat tightened and my stomach tied itself in knots at the sight of my mother in that dark room. That's when I knew. My mom was ready to die at that moment. She was ready to give up, to call it quits. She was intense physical pain and she couldn't do anything but feel completely helpless. That night, my mother was literally staring death in the face.
I crawled up next to my mother and cried. I couldn't handle the vision of helplessness that was my mother at the time. One by one my siblings showed up at the front door. It seemed as though a dark cloud had washed over the house that night as my mother quietly spoke what we thought would be her last words of hope, love, and the beautiful reminder that families are forever. I laid next to my mother in despair and clasped her hand as hard as I could, swearing to myself that I would never let go. I'll never forget what she said to me as I pleaded "Please don't die! Please!"
Her words pierced through all of our hearts that night. I felt as if the floor had fallen out from underneath my feet, and that I was about to lose everything that I held near and dear to my heart. We all solemnly stood in the kitchen. My bare feet frozen up against the kitchen tile. I thought that any second now my body was going to break like a shattered vase. My brother approached me and embraced me with love and empathy. I've always looked up to my oldest brother and his embrace was incredibly comforting at the time. What seemed to be a few minutes passed by as we all loaded up the cars and drove Mom to the hospital. It had been such a long time since I had seen my family together like this all as one and I wanted to cry. My silent prayers filled my mind and heart as we all paced the hospital lobby and awaited the news of death that we prayed would never come.
That day holds a special place in my heart. I learned a great deal about long suffering, enduring to the end, and how precious life truly is. My mom didn't die that night. In fact, she's on her journey towards healing, same as I and we're walking this path together now. The strength that my mother has especially in the worst of times is truly incredible to me. We experience things in life to learn, grow, and become the people that God intends for us to be. Most people don't even believe that Lyme is a real thing. And if I wouldn't have suffered that night I would not be in as good of shape that I am now. I would not know what my disease is. I wouldn't be able to help people. I wouldn't be able to be a source of comfort and inspiration that I so desperately wish to be in people's life. I know suffering. And without my knowledge of suffering I wouldn't know joy.
I share my stories in order to educate the wandering minds of the people who don't know any better. There are people out there right now that think I'm crazy. That it's all in my head. And all through my mother's suffering thought she was crazy as well. Well it's not all in my head. It's real! And I truly feel for everyone out there that is suffering from this insufferable disease. But it's a great comfort to know that we're NOT ALONE. There is always someone who is fighting right by our side even through our worst battles. Lyme is a real thing that steals people's quality of life everyday, even as we speak. But we can stand by each other as a source of support and hope. I truly have hope for healing. Just because torment and despair stares you in the face and comes knocking at your door, does not mean that you have to let it in. Here's to hope for healing, and hope for a bright future, even in the midst of suffering.