”Remember, for everything you have lost, you have gained something else. Without the dark, you would never see the stars.” Anonymous
Due to living with chronic illness, I have lost many things that were once important to me. I have lost many dreams, my career, my independence, and most of the friends I thought I had. But I have also gained in equal measure new dreams, new passions, new hopes, and renewed friendships with people who love me just as I am. I have been in really dark places where it seemed there was no light, but then found stars emerging to shine in the darkness.
Some of the things that I lost and still miss are hobbies or passions that brought me great joy. After college, when I began teaching (two of the best years of my life) I was the healthiest that I have ever been. I discovered a love of nature and hiking, and I would go hiking every opportunity I had. Where I was living gave me access to great opportunities to hike in everywhere from wetlands to forests to mountains. It provided me with an escape from the stress of daily life, and I felt so free and at peace. I also used to spend days in the nearby large city, exploring museums and the incredible opportunities to learn as well as experience diverse activities from amazing restaurants to theater and cultural activities. Now I am limited by my health complications to places where the local small city public transportation can access. I miss the diversity of experiences and the freedom to explore new places.
But it hasn‘t all been loss. I have also gained new hobbies and passions in my life. Prior to my health rapidly declining, I had never had any real interest in art. I had always assumed that because I struggled with art as a child (likely due to fine motor issues) that I would struggle as an adult as well. But I have discovered that I love the creativity of drawing and painting and working with clay. Art and its creativity have become my favorite escape and way of expressing myself. While I will never be a professional, I have surprised myself with the improvements in my ability over time. I have also rediscovered my love for writing, especially poetry, that I had put aside when more active. It is empowering to be able to create something magical with words and express things I would otherwise struggle to get out. Written words give me a freedom to explore emotions that are often difficult to express any other way.
I could continue to list things I have lost and things I have gained but in the end it balances out in the most unexpected ways. While I often wish that I could go back to before my illness radically changed my life, I am learning to see the beauty in the place I am now. I am thankful for what I had and for what I have now. Most of all I am thankful for both the sunny days and the darkness of night that allows me to see the stars.