This is a picture of my cane. It has been 138 days since I’ve had to use it to walk. Every day I get to leave it in the closet is a celebration.
Standing victoriously on top of the cane is a printed copy of my new novel that I’m currently editing. For most days last year, I wondered if this book would ever get written or if I would ever even write again while recovering from Lyme disease and other co-infections. Every day I get to sit in my desk chair and write with a functional mind and body is also a celebration.
I have much for which to be grateful. A year ago, I was hardly walking. A year ago, my wife had to pick me up whenever I lost my balance and fell. A year ago, I saw the doctor more than I saw my co-workers.
This year, everything has changed. My mind is clearer. My body is gaining strength. After ten years of being ill, this painful, tear-filled, arduous process of healing is working at last. I have much for which to be grateful.
For a long time, I wanted to be fixed, whole, and healthy before letting anyone in to see me, but I soon realized the messy process of restoration is beautiful. It allows rays of light to peek through all my unsightly cracks. Out of my deepest pain has flowed this new story, one I never originally envisioned but one I quickly discovered I needed to tell. I was scared and reluctant at first because it felt too vulnerable, too close to the bone, but I knew I had to do it. Writing in the trenches of healing has yielded something I never could have earned from writing post-recovery: bare honesty. This new novel is fiction, but my nonfiction self will never be the same because of the process it’s taken to tell this story.
Sometimes it’s easy to hide behind the image of the best self we’ve presented on social media. We post our favorite photos and showcase what we want others to think about us. For the past couple years, I haven’t had a best self to post about, only a broken one. Only now am I seeing the beauty in that brokenness, the wealth found in all this waiting to get better.
I am stronger because of my disease, not due to its presence in my body, but because of the fight it’s given me to pursue my dreams. It can’t hold me down. I won’t allow it. I don’t give it permission. I will drag it along as I chase my passion, and somewhere down the road it will fall off behind me, exhausted and defeated.
I have much for which to be grateful. The cane reminds me where I’ve been. The book reminds me where I’m going. Here’s to moving forward. :)