“The Torn Identity: Rebirth Through Chronic Illness”
Today’s Words of Wisdom:
“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
~William Shakespeare, Hamlet
The Foda’s Take: And yet, so many of us don’t truly know what we’re made of at all until we’re tested in the most vigorous of ways.
Howdy, folks! Today I’ve been thinking a lot about identity. It’s no small thing, knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what mark you intend to leave on the world. For people like me who are battling a chronic illness, you have likely already found that one of the hardest things that accompanies a long-term illness is the identity crisis that leaves you questioning: who am I now, and what will I do?
Before I got sick, I defined myself by the accomplishments I was most proud of. I was a runner, a singer, an actress, and a teacher. (I mentioned this in a post I wrote for the blog “Words from the Sowul” on redefining “beauty.” Click here to read!) Now, due to the extent of my illness, I can’t run, don’t have the breath-support to sing, and can’t act or teach…. mainly because those are both activities that require you to be able to move around.
It took me a really long time to figure out who I am now, and rework how I view myself so I’m not just the “sick girl” who’s waiting for her life to change. Starting up this blog has really helped me with that. This journey has forced me to strip away all the superficial layers of myself to find the deepest cores within. I realized what defines me and makes me special isn’t just singing, acting, or teaching, it’s creative expression. In having to redefine myself, I discovered writing, and wrote my very first fantasy novel, which is an accomplishment I’ll always cherish. I’ve learned what’s really important to me, and when I’m better- because I will get better- I won’t mess around. I will approach life with such tenacity and confidence, because I know now how resilient I really am, even in spite of how beat down I physically feel.
This illness has started a rebirth. It’s painful, often unpleasant, and very, very hard. No one likes to look in the mirror and realize that who they were has been ripped away, and who they are is a blank canvas. Which, as any painter knows, can be overwhelming at first. But think of it this way. Now you get to decide what picture to make. Not your childhood friends or your teachers or your parents. You and only you. This is one area in your life you can control right now, when you may feel like nothing else is. You get to change your picture. Start fresh. Explore things you never thought you’d do. I never thought I had the discipline or motivation to write a novel. And now I’m working on book two with the full intention of creating a trilogy.
You just never know. And maybe, just maybe, one day you’ll feel better, and you’ll not only know what you want- which, let’s face it, not many people do- but you’ll know you have what it takes to get it. Because if you can rebuild yourself from scratch… well, you can do anything, right?
Go ahead. Pick up the paintbrush. Make a new mark.
<Swwwwoooooosh!> Oooh, pretty.