There’s one group of people who refuse to allow me to heal because of their particular mindset. They continue to insist that I am highly incapacitated and am unable to do things that I am actually now able to do. While in the past my poor health limited my abilities, healing has allowed me to regain what I have lost. So even as I am attending events and participating in activities that I previously could not, these people around me continue to insist that I am not able to do so.
I’ve had to ask myself why these people won’t believe the evidence in front of them that I am healing. I’ve found a few different reasons. The first subgroup of people who refuse to believe that I am healing are others with chronic illnesses. For them, it is understandably frustrating that I am no longer sicker than they are. They see my progress and healing and outpacing their own recovery, and jealousy fills them. I used to be the one whom they would look at and say, “Thank heavens my health isn’t that bad!” Now that I have been able to heal in ways they haven’t, they can no longer console themselves by seeing me as beneath them. They are having to shift their world views because of my healing, and that’s too much for most of them to handle. Hence, they refuse to admit my life and health have changed.
The other subgroup who can’t accept my healing are those around me who have used my illness to define whom they are. They need me to be sick in order to be my caretaker, my hero, my healer. If am better, they no longer are needed in that same capacity, and therefore their self-definitions must change. This is simply too much for many people to handle. They’re set in their ways and roles. They don’t want to grow and change along with me. Unfortunately, that’s resulted in me having to leave some of these people behind as I move forward.
The last group is the most puzzling group to me. They are people who are very open-minded, very smart, and very important in my life. However, they’ve defined me as ill or disabled for so long that they have forgotten that I can change. They try to peg me into this role even when I’ve healed beyond it. I’ve been able to call many of these people out on their behavior toward me, and most of them are unaware they are even doing it. Once I’ve pointed out to them how they are treating me, most choose to evolve and allow me to be a healthy person.
My experiences in healing and recovery are one of the reasons I adamantly believe that individuals should not define themselves by their illness and/or disability. If their lives change in any way and they lose that part of their self-definition, it can be a huge challenge in living with whom they truly are. Fortunately my battle with Lyme and its associated troubles has forced me to figure out who I actually am. That person is not someone who is defined by the malleable parts of me including disability, and I refuse to allow others to define me in any similarly unhealthy way if they want to remain in a relationship with me. Were I to have defined myself through the illness that I experienced and if I had let others force me to believe that I couldn’t heal because of their personal needs for me to be ill, then my chances of recovery would have been close to nil. Instead, I was able to overcome a terrible uphill battle because I understood that I was not my illness. I am an amazing soul who had to face the challenge of a major illness in order to find my true self, but that illness is not whom I am at my core. All of us are much more than the challenges we face in life.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC