Something that always amazes me about chronic illness is the anger that has a tendency to creep up at different points, without warning. Whether in the form of self-judgment and negative self-talk, jealousy, becoming overwhelmed and emotionally withdrawing, being passive-aggressive, or outright lashing out at those around us, at the root (for me, at least) the cause seems to be anger.
I am at such a weird place in my life right now, there has been so much change in the last year and there is so much I have lost to this disease – including my sense of self. It is a daily struggle and I have hit somewhat of an emotional wall recently. I am guilty of emotionally withdrawing for periods of time, but lately, my big struggle is with comparing myself to others or comparing where I am to where I think I should be. I compare myself now to myself 5/6/7 years ago, and to this idea that I had built up in my head of what my life would be. I’m 26 years old and the truth is that some days I have a nagging feeling that the best of my life is behind me. Where I really struggle is when I see everyone around me reaching these big milestones in their lives: anniversaries with their significant others, engagements, weddings, babies, etc… *Queue the mini pity party* Because I want those things…I want to be happy, I want a family of my own, I want success and abundance, I want those memories to look back on one day, I want to be loved. So to watch it happen for everyone else, wondering whether it will ever happen for me, is hard. I know that everyone’s path is different, but why does mine have to be so lonely? There are times where I feel like I’m walking this road alone and I can’t turn around and go back to the way my life used to be, but I also don’t know how to go forward. I’m just stuck. And it’s hard…It’s really hard, and I don’t have the answers on how to make it better.
I started writing this post thinking that it would end up being about comparison and how much I have been struggling with that lately; and as I wrote the tears began to flow, so I took a moment to sit in that space and tried to understand where these tears and feelings were coming from…why am I comparing myself and my life to this person? What is it about that situation that makes me feel this way? The truth is, it had nothing to do with the people and situations I was thinking about when I first started writing. The tears and the emotions that those comparisons stirred up in me were coming from anger. I am pissed off that lupus has completely turned my life on its head. I’m annoyed that I struggle as much as I do now and that it affects my life so much. I’m furious that my life is not in the place that I had planned for it to be. I feel defeated when I think about my struggles with dating in this time since getting sick. I’m just angry at lupus, and I have to remind myself that it is completely ok to feel that way. There is nothing wrong with having anger that my life has taken this turn as long as I find a way to release it.
I am clearly still learning to recognize, and really deal with these feelings, rather than bottle them up and suppress them. But I think it begins with acknowledging it, and then reminding yourself that you have every right to feel it (and a good healthy cry never hurts!). I am working on challenging those thoughts of “I should…” when they arise; I am not the person I was 5/6 years ago, my life is not going to resemble that of my peers, but that doesn’t mean I won’t find happiness in my own time.