You’ve Changed

I’ve been through a life changing experience in becoming sick. I feel vastly different on the inside. My beliefs have changed, my behavior has changed and I feel differently about a lot of things.

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The response to this change from friends and family has been really interesting. Some people pay no attention, brush aside any talk of illness and move on with the conversation. Other people want to know all the gory details, which I’m not that comfortable with either. I don’t like focusing on the negative. I like looking forwards, to being well.

Many people can’t understand how this caused such a shift. ‘Why don’t you just go back to what you were doing and how you were before?’ Well, chronic illness changed me. It doesn’t change everyone but it changed me. It broke me, in fact. It stripped me down from all the titles I used to hold. It forced me to really know myself, face my issues and to figure out what I want out of life.

Personally, I’d say I’m recovered now. But I do know that I have absolutely no reserves. If I have a bad night, I really struggle the next day. There is nothing in the tank to tide me over. I still get drained from some social interactions. Sometimes from the ones where I’m really energized, and others where I’m bored to tears. But I am getting better at figuring out what drains me, and either avoiding those situations or scheduling some rest afterwards.

I wish I’d known this sooner as I would have designed my life differently earlier, and avoided getting a lifelong illness. If I had known myself better I would have been able to manage my energy and relationships in a smart way. I remember people moving away from me when I became irritable and I became irritable when I was too stretched. At least I can teach my children to know themselves and to self-monitor so that they can thrive accordingly.

There are people who seem very uncomfortable with the new me. The new Kathy is strong, focused, not easily distracted from her life goals. She knows who her friends are and she knows what she wants out of her relationships. She knows that boundaries keep her safe and friends who think she’s now weird are not such good friends.

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The new me is also a better mother, more patient and more present. I know that I can only be a better mother when I have time to myself and when I prioritise self-care. Knowing myself and what I need has become truly fundamental to building happiness. And of course there are those very special people who celebrate my change, are curious about what is different and infinitely supportive of my growth.

Yes, I’ve changed and it’s for the better and it’s here to stay. Who doesn’t change, when confronted with debilitating symptoms? Who doesn’t want to design an optimal life? Of course I’ve changed because the old me created a collapse. The new me creates hope, wonder, enthusiasm and optimism. And I kinda like her, she can stay.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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