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There is a quiet war that wages just under the surface of my skin, hidden from the view of an untrained eye. The glory of a full breath of air is unknown to me. Instead, I gasp and gag and wheeze but I’ve learned to do it in near silence, because I have also learned that my struggle for air makes people uncomfortable.

My inside is different than most. My body’s over zealous attempt to take care me, is actually doing me harm. My immune system is suffering some unexplainable type of post traumatic stress from some kind of invisible enemy. It remains on high alert at all times and often goes to battle inside me where there is no actual fight raging.

Strength and energy are precious commodities for me. I treasure them when I have them. I long for them when I don’t. Fatigue and discomfort are constant companions. They follow me everywhere I go and rarely do they leave me. They have become part of me, no different than my arms or legs. I have learned to manage them so they remain unnoticed, especially to those who dare not look too closely.

My losses are many. My career melted away into an unwanted but necessary early retirement because my body could no longer handle the stress, putting my usefulness in question. My once quick wit has been replaced by dense fog, as words come more slowly and new ideas are harder to comprehend. My stamina is diminished putting me in the slow lane, while others race past me, rarely slowing long enough to notice that I am even there. My once flexible body is now cramped and contracted in pain.

Do not mistake my loss and pain for suffering though. I do not suffer. I do struggle. I struggle to maintain normalcy. I struggle to keep up. I struggle to remain engaged and interested. I struggle to find meaning and purpose but I do not suffer. I struggle.

I fight a battle most will never understand, nor would I want them to. I live in an altered state but I try to live with dignity. I try to live with joy. I try to live with peace. I try to live with love, so don’t presume that I suffer because I don’t suffer. I struggle.

I struggle because despite my hardships, I still adore my life. I struggle because I want to remain of the world. I struggle because I seek serenity. I struggle because there is grace in this fight. I struggle because despite these tribulations, I know life is beautiful.

I struggle so that I do not have to suffer.

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