I repeated the same process with my life.* When I met someone new, I would chatter away about my life as an aspiring author, ask them about themselves and block personal questions with the skill of an experienced fencer.
Vulnerable. Who wants to take the plunge and allow others to see inside their soul? To what end would it serve me to pull away the fog that shrouds my inner being and share with someone?
From the time I was fourteen until I was nineteen, I lived with an undiagnosed disease. I watched people’s skeptical looks, heard their snarky comments, felt their scorn. And I wilted. These people weren’t being unkind on purpose, but their lack of understanding cut me until I learned to withdraw myself. I didn’t blame them. If I couldn’t explain how I felt, or why I felt that way, how could I expect others to fathom it? Then I changed from being thought of as a hypochondriac to being considered lazy and at times even stuck up.
I decided the only way to win was to pretend. I was a good actress. I spent countless hours up in my room or resting on the couch, but when I was around new people I could pull off a prize-winning performance if I put my mind to it. Many people didn’t realize I was sick unless I cheerfully informed them of the fact. Cheerfulness, that was the key. Then people wouldn’t realize how soul-crushing and pain-filled my life was. Then they wouldn’t know how I would curl up in my parent’s bed sobbing that just existing took all energy I had and I wanted to live, not exist. They never guessed about the months I spent begging God to let me go to sleep for years until somehow, some day in the future, I could awake without all the pain.
Then came one of the most glorious days of my life. After years of doctor visits, blood being drawn and tests being done, I was diagnosed. I had Lyme disease. In that moment, my life changed. I finally had a name, a reason for the way I felt. I was as excited as a child on Christmas Day.
That’s when I decided that one day I would write a book about a girl with Lyme disease. I would help the world see the emotions that plague a teenage girl with a mysterious and lingering illness. I would fill other’s with hope, with the relief of knowing they aren’t alone.
It took me eleven months, though, before I finally took the leap and drew back the curtain of fog I had enveloped my life in. Eleven months before I found the courage to even begin writing about Lyme disease. It was so freeing, so liberating, so…so glorious to be open about it.
Then came the months of healing where at times I felt worse than ever before. The fear I battled, the realization that I would never get those years of my life back. And I discovered that when I shared my thoughts and struggles with other people though writing, I would often get responses, comments, emails… And that’s when I realized that everyone can relate in some way or another. When people scorn and mock, more often than not, it’s because they are scared, too. It’s because I’ve touched a wound and they recoil in pain. They aren’t attacking me, they’re attacking their reality.
I write what’s scary because it’s freeing. For me, for others. It’s my way of showing you that I care. That I think enough of you, and of myself, to be honest so hopefully my life can help others.
Some people are healed so they can move on and change the world. Other people are healed so they can stay and reach out a helping hand to those who desperately need it, and in that way, they too, are changing the world. One hurting person at a time.
*None of this post relates to my family and close friends