As many of you know, I got my third article published on The Mighty recently, and will be writing more about my chronic illness for that. I followed their Facebook page, and I will occasionally read some of the posts that especially catch my eye.
Last week I read one that made me tear up. It was titled, Dear Future Husband, From Your Chronically Ill Wife. Before I even clicked the link this article resonated with me because as goofy as it may seem, I have been writing letters to my “future husband” since I was a young teenager. I love to write, and I am someone who thinks letters and cards often mean more than extravagant gifts. I got the idea because of conversations we had at church about marriage, sex, and dating. I’ve always been a free-thinker and enjoyed spending time contemplating what people discussed, and forming my own opinion after thinking it through. Writing has been a great outlet to express myself as well as figuring out why I feel the way I do about important things in life.
As I’ve mentioned before, I was a late bloomer and wasn’t particularly interested in dating until I was in college (And was too shy to talk to the guys I did actually like in high school). This gave me time to think about what I wanted in a partner, as well as some difficult times being the only single one in some of my friend groups. Even as I’ve grown older I have kept in the back of my mind that I will be getting married one day, and thought about the way I hope my future husband treats the girls he dates before me. I have tried to keep him in the back of my mind with decisions I make, as well as my future kids. I know it seems weird that I was thinking about these people I hadn’t even met when I was so young, but I have always been someone who is very conscious about others’ feelings and I think pretty far into my future and know what I want it to look like.
This article choked me up because my life is not the way I want it to be; I’m not always the person I want to be. Having a chronic illness is the one of the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my short life and even though I’ve been sick for almost 4 years now, it still so often feels new to me. I’m not always okay with missing out on things I want to do, I still often wonder why God lets us feel pain, and I can’t do all the chores and work that a normal twenty-something can. I don’t talk about what I’m missing out on very much, as I like to be as positive as I can, but I do wish I could travel more, I wish I could write more, and I wish I could have the kind of adventures that I used to enjoy so much. I wish I could serve those I love more — I wish I could contribute to helping my family more, and I sometimes feel like I’m a burden. There’s a lot that I can’t do but rarely talk about because there really isn’t much of a point in harping on it.
Something I loved about this article is how much it talks about the love we still have to give, despite everything we are unable to do. As much as I sometimes feel like I am an incomplete person because of my illness, when I take the time to sit back and really look at myself the way Jesus would, I realize I am so much more than my physical body. I am kind and patient with others. I am a giver, and often offer much more than I really am able to in order to make others happy. I am thoughtful and genuine, which makes for a very loving heart.
As much as I hate my POTS and I hate that I can’t give every single thing in a relationship that I ordinarily would have been able to a few years ago, I also realize what a valuable gift my chronic illness has given me. I have become more resilient, I am much more empathetic than most people who are even twice my age, and I have new experiences under my belt that have been able to help others through hardships of their own.
I have a small binder of letters to give someone on my wedding day, and even though I am nowhere near perfect, that will be perfectly okay. The cool thing about marriage is that you are accepting someone for who they are — flaws and all — and promising to love and care for them for the rest of your life. I don’t know how much better I’ll get with my illness, but I do know that I have a heart that is equipped to love someone completely. I know that I will be a loyal, caring, thoughtful, and trustworthy companion, regardless of how my body is acting. When it comes down to it, these are the qualities that really matter in a relationship — not so much whether or not I can do the laundry or cook an extravagant dinner. I’m still learning to accept myself fully with my illness, but I have come a really long way from where I began.
2 thoughts on “Mighty Letters”
Thank you for such a thoughtful, heart-felt, and touching post! A friend of mine, a therapist, tells his patients “you are not your illness”. It sounds so simple a thing to say, but it is so profoundly true.
I so deeply agree with you that you’ve got a lot going for you, a lot to give someone you love. From what little I’ve seen, I’d say you are possessed of kindness, compassion, courage, cheerfulness, perseverance, insightfulness, intelligence, and empathy, among other admirable traits.
By the way, I love your notion that “letters and cards often mean more than extravagant gifts”.
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Oh my gosh this comment just COMPLETELY made my day. Thank you so much! :’) And I agree with your friend 100%. I’ve always said that I have POTS, but POTS doesn’t have me! Sometimes I don’t feel that way, but I always try to remind myself when I’m being a little hard on myself. Thank you for your thoughtful comment! ❤
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