What Living With Lyme Disease Taught Me About Hope

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Mom, will you ever get better?

It's a cold Saturday morning here in New Hampshire. Our original plans for this weekend were to be on the slopes skiing. However, due to so-so weather conditions and the fact that I'm in the middle of a Lyme flare-up, we decided to stay put. As I lay here on my couch with so many thoughts swirling through my head, I am reminded of a question my son asked me long ago. Over the past three years now, both my boys have asked me this question many times. But the first time I heard those words, I froze:

"Mom, are you ever going to get better?"

I was instantly filled with anxiety, sadness, and fear. The truth was, I didn't know if I would ever get better. But I didn't want to tell my son that. So I lied.

"Yes, Jack. I will, for sure. It's just going to take some time." I then asked myself, "Will I ever get better? Will I always be in almost unbearable pain? Will I always have uncontrollable twitches? Will I always have severe mood swings? Will I always be so anxious? Will I always have this maddening ringing in my ears? Will I lose my mobility for good? Will I get my libido back? Will I keep forgetting where I'm going with my kids when I get in the car?" The questions and symptoms are too many to count. The fear was almost as paralyzing as the illness itself.

I don't remember exactly when the switch occurred. I just realized that this struggle was here to teach me something.

Lyme pushed me to the point of asking "What do I want?" "What am I living for?" It pains me to write these words. But there was a time that everything was so dark. I felt hopeless, powerless, and lost.

I don't remember exactly when the switch occurred. I just had a realization, deep in my core, that this struggle was here to teach me something. This illness was not who I was and I was not going to let it define me. I had a beautiful life and for that I was very grateful. I knew there was something much greater for me on the other side of the struggle. What that was, I did not know.

Lyme put my body and mind through utter misery. It was visions, dreams, and love that kept me going through the hardest times. There was a point during my treatment, which consisted of both Eastern and Western medicine, that I realized it was going to take more than a pill, herb, tincture, or being hooked up to an IV to heal me.

Healing happens on all levels.

I finally stopped and took time to listen. I surrendered. I turned my despair into hope, my impatience into patience, my fear into courage, my resistance into acceptance. I started shifting my mindset; I changed my story. In my willingness to look inside and see with new eyes, I propelled my healing journey forward.

Healing is a personal journey, unique to every individual. It is not a linear path. It requires patience and determination. Facing the pain of my disease has allowed me to awaken. That is a gift. I came across this quote long ago and it stuck with me:

The journey home to my true self. Yes, please, and thank you. This is the answer to the question from long ago. "What do I want and what am I living for?" This—all of this. To come home to my true self. Not just for myself but for my beautiful family and for all of the people I am meant to help on their journeys.

So, as I lay here on my couch, I am actually crying tears of joy—ecstatic in the realization that I can have my life back and relieved to be able to answer my sons' question—"Mom, will you ever get better?"—with a resounding "Yes!" and believe it.

I'm not going to lie: There have been times when I wish I could go back to the person I was before I was diagnosed with Lyme. Could I be that version of myself again? The answer is no. She will always be a part of me, but I am so much stronger and more vibrant now. As I continue on my journey—even in the middle of a painful flare-up—I do so with trust. I trust the emergence of whatever will be. I believe that whatever my future holds, it's going to be beautiful.

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