Ever stand at the ocean’s shore and look out on the horizon? What do you see? I’m a beach baby and love the water, specifically the ocean, and what I was always amazed about was the vast openness. The never ending water reaching out to where sky meets sea. It’s that feeling that things will never end that those facing a chronic illness every day. There is a constant reminder that the illness is ever present and most likely will be for the rest of our lives. As someone who has faced an auto-immune disease for over thirty years I’m well aware of the impact the point with end has on one’s psyche.
Flannery O’Connor wrote, ” I have never been anywhere but sick…In a sense, sickness is a place, more instructive than a long trip to Europe, and it’s always a place where there is no company, where nobody can follow.” I’d like to add, and hope no one ever wants or has to follow in those footsteps. O’Connor dealt with lupus throughout her life and understood, quite eloquently, the impact physically and spiritually that a long road toward wellness can have on one’s inner journey.
It can take a long time to accept and embrace the “new normal” we have to live when our lives will always contain an element of medical treatment. Many can’t understand the experience of having a host of doctors on your Christmas card list, but they become an integral part of the lives for those facing chronic illness. It would be great to be able to take a vacation from chronic illness, but unfortunately, it goes on and on so it’s up to us to be able to take mental and emotional vacations.
I’ve found that one of the great ways of taking a frequent vacation from illness is by creating art. It gives me time to enter “the zone” and in that space all outside distractions disappear like fog when it’s touched by sunlight. The creative juices flow and it overrides the ick/discomfort/annoyance felt toward the illness or transforms what could become the “pity pot” to something beautiful and resourceful.
I’d love to hear how you are taking a vacation from your chronic illness…even if it’s just for a moment.