This time a year ago I was waking up from one of the hardest operations I have ever had to face. The next few weeks were a blur of tears, fear, and a lot of opioids. My life changed forever. I tried to stay positive, but in reality there were a few breakdowns.
I have had to grieve so many things this year: the loss of the body I’d known my whole life, the loss of pursuits, plans and plane tickets; the loss of a life I thought I’d live.
Sometimes I feel like this year all I’ve done is wait to feel like myself again, but in fact I’ve spent so long waiting, I think I’ve forgotten what that used to feel like – or what that’s supposed to feel like.
However, recently I’ve had the realisation that this is illness is not something to fight, because quite frankly – I’m never going to win. Instead I am trying to accept it and learn to flow with the ever changing nature of my existence in this world. Maybe we are always changing and evolving, maybe we aren’t all aiming for a static state of being, maybe what is ‘to be’ doesn’t quite stay the same.
My inner turmoil with my body, my identity and my deteriorating quality of life is a daily battle – but it doesn’t come without gratitude for the moments those thoughts don’t fill my head.
I’m on the verge of a diagnosis of a second autoimmune condition, while undergoing tests to try and diagnose possible others. After having 7 operations this year, to say I’m not quite out of the woods yet would be an understatement. But despite this all, I’ve achieved so much in a year.
When I say achieved, no, I haven’t got a promotion and I certainly haven’t lost 2 stone. I mean I’ve achieved what matters to me most now: moments of pure happiness. Moments that let me forget, even just for a second, that I’m not going to get better. It’s these achievements I treasure over any company bonus scheme.
I started this year rekindling my friendship with someone who’s known me most of my life. We road tripped to Somerset and took photos that made me see myself as beautiful, despite my bag, for the first time.
I made a new best friend. She’s had a rough ride of a year too, and I’m so glad we’ve been there to support each other.
I picked up a camera for the first time and now I’m capturing (consistently out of focus) beautiful moments with my friends every day.
I spent a week on a narrowboat. I saw a turtle in a Thames canal. Now I’ve pledged to myself my first home will float.
I found a passion for writing and made it a career. I saw my first Cornish sunset.
The list could go on and on. I’ve learnt our lives are so fragile and beautiful and the way they intertwine with each other is magical. I am filled with such gratefulness to be able to experience these things and reminded of the privilege that is to do so.
Things might not be perfect, but for some reason, despite it all I still feel like the wheels beneath me are turning, albeit slowly. It’s definitely forwards.
I’m not going into this year any stronger than last year, I’m just a hell of a lot wiser.