Quietly, a phantom thief, you forced yourself into my life, slowly but violently inserting your existence into mine. Uninvited, you rooted yourself into my very core and silently grew inside of me, victimizing my vulnerability and tattooing your intention on every piece of me. You suck nearly every ounce of energy out of me, while I desperately and frantically try to forge, steal, manifest any remaining vigor I can manage to grasp and tear out of your hands.
If I’d never met you, people wouldn’t tilt their heads to one side, eyes full of pity, and offer their condolences when they learn I’m sharing my life with you. I wouldn’t have to suppress memories of what I perceive my abilities once were, because they’re too painful now.
If I’d never met you, there’d be one less voice in my head telling me that I can’t, that I’m less than. I wouldn’t feel like I have to question myself and then explain my choices and my decisions. I would spring out of bed in the morning, fresh and excited for the day ahead. I wouldn’t worry about what comes next. My house would be cleaner. My social life would be more exciting. I wouldn’t have to factor in a day of recovery when trying to fix those things. I’d have more money. I’d feel more comfortable in my new skin. I wouldn’t feel like a burden.
Most of the time, I wish I’d never met you, that I could wave a magic wand and completely erase you from my memory.
But you’re here and you’re here to stay.
And if I’d never met you, I wouldn’t have the appreciation and understanding for others whose lives you’ve also infiltrated. I wouldn’t see the beauty in every moment, every image my eyes will take in, every step my feet will take.
If I’d never met you, I wouldn’t have the support system that I do. Since I’ve met you, I’ve learned how to say “no” and although I’m still learning to not always feel guilty about it, I’m closer to putting myself first without making excuses or apologies. I’ve learned to listen to the warning signals my body sends me when something is off. I wouldn’t know what I’m capable of. I wouldn’t recognize my own strength, if I’d never met you.
And for that, I thank you.
This article was authored by Cat Stappas and originally published on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s blog, MSConnection.org, on September 8, 2016.