I Don’t Want to Be the Girl I Used to Be: Kelsey’s Thoughts on Embracing Change in the Face of Lyme Disease
It can feel impossible not to judge ourselves for the way we’ve dealt with things. For the way we’ve reacted. For the way we’ve treated ourselves and others when emotions are heightened and nothing seems to make sense.
But that’s just it. As our perspectives shift and as life happens, we of course would have done things differently. But doing them differently wouldn’t have led us to where we are now.
Now, with all of our knowledge and insight. With all of our capabilities and hidden talents. With all of our strengths and mistakes wrapped into one, it’s impossible not to appreciate the you that brought you here, and Kelsey does a beautiful job of diving into the back and forth of our relationship with our young self. With how delicate moments can be. With out profoundly one small act or word said can shift the way we view our world and ourselves entirely.
And I can’t wait for you to dive in.
Personality tests are all the rage right now. Everyone wants to know their Myers Briggs type or number on the Enneagram. What’s funny though is that if we take these tests every few years, our results will typically change. Inherently we’re the same person, but yet we’ve changed somehow. More times than not, we change because of our life experiences.
Whether these be times of sadness or great joy, experiences shape who we are. For example, we hear all the time about people who act completely different after a near death experience or some form of trauma. Today, I’m here to tell you about some of the life experiences that changed me completely.
Let’s rewind ten years. I really respected the little girl I was when I was ten years old. I like to think I was pretty fierce, brave, and daring. Then again, it’s easy to be that way when you’re only ten, have never had a broken heart, and have never looked trauma straight in the eye.
One part of myself that has never changed though is my stubbornness and determination. Even at only ten, I wanted to do the best I could in school and practice my figure skating routines until exhaustion. My expectations for myself have always been high, and little ten year old me prided herself one meeting them. Jump forward a year and all of that suddenly changed.
Simply put, I got really sick. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong and I kept getting passed down the line of specialists like a bowl of potatoes at the dinner table. I’ve told this story many times, but talking about this time in my life never gets easier. I started losing weight, growing weak, and had such bad stomach pain that I barely ate. I couldn’t do sports anymore and there were more days than I’d like to admit when I never left my bed.
The girl I once knew was taken from me quickly. I had so much hatred in my heart. I hated my doctors for not figuring out what was wrong with me, and I hated my body for putting me through this. Still, I was so determined to be the girl I once was. I kept trying to force myself to eat, brave countless appointments, and keep up with school.
This time in my life, I had so many confusing emotions about myself. I was proud for not giving up. I was proud to graduate high school and college early. I was proud when I gained back some weight and strength. But at the same time, I still hated my body. I knew I could be doing more if I didn’t have this mysterious illness. I was so insecure and grew tired of the snarky remarks everyone made about my body. After 8 years undiagnosed, I finally found a good doctor who diagnosed me with Lyme disease. Finally, I could be normal and the girl I used to be again. I could live a life free of insecurities.
During this time, I was in a pretty serious relationship. I still hated parts of myself and had ingrained into my mind that I couldn’t possibly be loveable while I was sick. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty functional sick person overall. I take care of myself, work, go to school, have many dear friends...etc. But nonetheless, I couldn’t shake the insecurity that if someone saw me in my weakest and most vulnerable state, they would be scared off. Every time my boyfriend at the time drove me to a doctor or brought me soup, I equated that to love and used that as an excuse to ignore other problems. I was terrified that if it ended, I would never find someone else who loved me while I was sick.
That relationship didn’t last and I’ve now had space to see the inevitable problems. Furthermore, I had time to reflect on who I was and who I wanted to be. While I was far from perfect in that relationship, I didn’t deserve some of the things this person did to me; so why did I continue on? Suddenly, as hard as a plane hits a landing strip, I was hit with all of my insecurities.
Instead of repressing them this time and telling myself that they would vanish when I wasn’t sick, I started facing them. I dissected them one by one. Why would I want my old life back when I had experienced and lived through so much? Why would I crave a simpler life when these difficult times made me more patient, empathic, and passionate? Why would I ever think I’m unloveable while I’m sick when the words “in sickness AND health” are literally vows? Why did I hate my body when it kept me alive and fought this disease day after day?
Slowly, I started loving myself again. This wasn’t, and still isn’t, an easy process. I had to put sticky notes with affirmations on my mirror and force myself to say that I was beautiful, capable, and worthy of love every time I looked into it. I started writing. I forced myself to take off the mask of that always happy girl and was honest with people if times were tough. I was shocked by how many others felt the same way. Through vulnerability, came the best support system and community ever.
While I’m human and those insecurities still try to lurk in my mind, I’m stronger now. I love myself more and know my worth. I’m confident that I deserve to love and be loved for all that I am, including my Lyme. I’m willing to be patient for the right person and don’t feel desperation for a relationship. I respect my body for being strong after fighting chronic illness for so long. I love my mind for never giving up and not letting this disease control how hard I fight for my dreams. I love my soul for its passion to help people heal.
I don’t want to be the girl I used to be. I don’t want my old life back. I would never have been able to encounter people in this special way if I hadn’t gotten sick. Because of these difficulties, I learned to be content with where I am in life. Most importantly, I learned to be content with who I am in life and I’m proud of the ways I’ve embraced change.
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