I often wonder how to make sense of conflicting emotions. There are times when the desire to hide my face overshadows the relief felt from sharing and talking with others about the fear, strength, truth, and insight found in living with a chronic illness.

There is such fear and stigma of sickness. Fear of your life, fear of changing relationships, fear of death, of pain, of suffering. There is also sadness, worry, and struggle about unfulfilled dreams and your new changing reality. There is impatience, frustration, strength, and adaptability as you are forced to change as your body makes increasingly more demands of you. You are placed in uncomfortable situations: forced to make difficult and painful decisions.

In the whirlwind of conflicting emotion, there is also a newfound appreciation of life. Every day is beautiful. Every triumph is my own. Every person whose life I touch in a positive way makes a difference. There is the understanding that to help others, I must first help myself.

It has been my experience that rather than talk about these very real, natural aspects of life, it is easier to focus on health, beauty, vitality, and youth: To leave unsaid words, unsaid conversations to my thoughts – if at all – causing unrest in the mind and isolation. The irony, of course, is that all is fleeting. There is no constant. Control is an illusion. Youth morphs into middle, then old age. Death is certain for everyone.

I hope that by acknowledging the difficult conversations – whether through writing, speaking, or meditation – I will allow myself to find internal peace and ease the burden of fear.

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