Last October my parents took Zoey and me to Disney World. I only went into the park twice for very limited amounts of time due to fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, chronic illness, blah blah blah. On one of the I’m-Going-Into-The-Park-Becasue-F***-Chronic-Illness days, I found myself outside of Expedition Everest (which I couldn’t go on *sigh*) eating a snack. Not just any snack: a frozen, chocolate covered banana pop. A large one. And I was being forced to eat it in front of a group of teenage boys. And to make matters worse, I was in a wheelchair. Being pushed by my 60-something year old father (Hi Dad!). It was, in a word, awkward.
Actually, it was more than awkward. That moment, however brief (my dad is buff and pushed me out of there pretty quickly), was the epitome of what chronic illness can do to us. It can make us feel small. It can make us feel ugly. It can make us feel like we don’t belong out there, you know, among people. We feel not good enough. Not strong enough. We feel all wrong.
Even when not eating a large, frozen phallus from a wheel chair in front of teenage boys, I often feel all wrong. I worry about seeming lazy when I don’t help my parents lift their luggage into the trunk. I worry about seeming weak and fragile when I have to lay down and rest instead of going sledding with Zoey. I worry about not being able to look like the other moms at pick-up — I just don’t have the energy to invest in fashion, make-up, and good hair. I worry about not being like everyone else. I worry about all the things I can’t do.
I have a chronic illness, but I am not my chronic illness. I want to stop worrying. I want to start being. Start enjoying. Start noticing what I can do. And, while I’m at it, I might as well start eating frozen banana pops with wild abandon. Who’s with me?????