It was Monday, the beginning of the week, the dawning of a specific week, a week that I love, SHARK WEEK. I got up with a plan, I had my to-do list organized, and I felt recharged, ready to pour my all into the day and then BAM!
For twenty-plus years I have battled with an invisible enemy, something that has invaded and ravaged my body while simultaneously altering the trajectory of every area of my life. It has stolen desires that I longed to birth and impeded my career path, my nemesis’ name is, Endometriosis. After decades of battling with all of my might, I am willingly bowing in surrender. I believe that the true mark of a warrior is knowing when to relinquish the battle to win the war. It became quite clear to me that my usual dogmatic determination to beat Endo had taken me as far as it could, if putting my body in a space of calm was going to happen, I had to yield.
In the early days when my body was telling me that something was wrong, the doctors were trying to convince me that it was all in my head. My quest to put a name to this thing that was causing me so much pain was my sole focus and I wouldn’t be deterred. Eight years later, after seeing doctor after doctor and being flipped upside down and inside out by specialist to specialist with multiple ER visits in between, I got my answer, Endometriosis. I’d never heard of it and had no idea what it was but I now knew what was plaguing me. One would think that I would’ve been elated, after-all, having a diagnosis gives validity to my symptoms and re-established the competency of my once doubted sanity.
As I sat there on my bed with my heating pad on high adding more trauma to my Toasted Skin Syndrome or Erythema ab igne, writing this post, deciding if the pain had reached the pinnacle of crippling that I deem worthy of medication; I found myself doing what had become my way of life, fighting with this disease. I’ve made so many mistakes, some of them wildly expensive, on this journey with Endometriosis and wrestling with it is one that I’m done making. Being different is something that I have always known about myself, as a little girl I knew that I wasn’t like the other girls. I understood things that were far beyond my age and knowledge base. The more I realized how unique I was the more I craved to be “normal,” my life with Endo has been no different. I fought for 8 years to get a diagnosis yet the moment I knew the name, I focused on disproving it. The more I tried to prove that I didn’t have Endometriosis the more aggressive the disease became. So, there I sat, ignoring the climbing pain, looking out my window, feeling like a prisoner, but working tirelessly to manifest my dream, I decided that it was time to stop fighting, to concede.
Now, before you gasp in sadness for me, let’s look at what yielding necessitates. For me, submitting to Endometriosis is finally settling into the truth of my reality, to invite calmness into my everyday life. No more panicking when I feel the pain looming, because it further confirms the truth of the long confirmed diagnosis, denial is powerful. I am accepting what comes to me with faith in the possibility for better. Fighting requires energy and to do so constantly is exhausting, especially when “winning” isn’t probable. I’ve had sixteen surgeries with my last being a complicated excision and resection, clearly Endometriosis is a part of my life so why fight it.
I am opening myself up to experience calmness and contentment that has evaded me for years. No longer will I dispute, I will work with my illness, listening to its cues and putting my body in an optimal position to carry me through the rest of my life. Prolonging medication with the hope of pain passing, when I know it is reaching the point of crippling, is no longer a tactic that I will employ. I won’t push past my physical limits just to appear strong or normal to people who don’t live as I do. When I can I will and when I can’t, I won’t. I’m done being ashamed of being ill. I proudly own all of who I am and I will do my best to live my best with Endometriosis, not fighting against it.
If you can learn anything from my recount of my experiences and errors in living with a chronic illness, I encourage you to never deny your truth. Accepting that you have an illness doesn’t make you less important than the next person, it gives you the chance to learn and grow. Take time to learn about your condition so that you can partner with your doctors to create a plan that helps you live both ill and well.