Often times people will tell us folks with chronic illness, there is “always a silver lining” as a means to provide us with comfort. I can tell you that I used to want to tell those people to take a flippin hike because literally you have NO idea people! They wanted me to believe silver lining logic. I wanted them to buzz off.
I used to think the silver lining metaphor was a bunch of malarkey honestly. What good is there in suffering? I would be thankful to survive whatever health crisis I was enduring but I wasn’t thankful FOR the crisis. I felt burdened by it. Angry that I had to experience it. Jealous of healthy people. Lonely in my fears. Silver lining logic was lost on me.
However, following an extensive surgery for my endometriosis and PCOS in the summer of 2016, I started to see things differently. It was a six week recovery and let me tell you – the first few weeks were torture. I couldn’t sit on my bottom, could barely stand up straight, and had to wear an adult diaper for the first two weeks because I was bleeding so much. I won’t get into details about my operation, but I will tell you I was miserable. Embarrassed. Sad. Pissed. I felt broken and like “why does my body hate me so much?”. I felt thankful for my family and friends, but I also felt lonely in a strange way. Lonely because I couldn’t tell anyone just how much I grieved being a “normal” and healthy person.
When I would attempt to tell people where I was REALLY at emotionally, they would say things like: “well at least they got all of the endometriosis” and “you should be glad they saved your ovaries” and “it’s only up from here”, and my personal favorite “at least it’s not cancer!”. All well-intentioned statements filled with silver lining logic. I wasn’t ready. I was lost in my own loathing.
Following my surgery, as I lay recovering and bored out of my mind, I started receiving messages from women telling me their stories. Some were women I knew personally, and had no idea suffered from chronic health issues. Some were women I’d never met. Each came to me with words of encouragement fueled by empathy and a sisterhood I cannot explain. We bonded together and I began to realize I wasn’t alone. In fact, there was a tribe of strong-ass women feeling just as broken as I was.
In those weeks following surgery, something clicked for me. Was it that I magically saw this metaphorical silver lining and lost all my resentment related to my chronic illnesses? Definitely not. But I did see that there was something magical that I experienced as a result of my suffering. I realized how connected I was to other women and I learned that in some way we could help each other find strength. There was a power in my story and a gift in the ability to share it.
A year in a half later here I sit. I still have moments where I’m ticked that I have these conditions. But there are many more moments where I feel a greater calling to connect with other women like me. That our strength is in our stories. That maybe there is this silver lining people speak of. But it’s more than that. It’s a line that draws our hearts together and connects us to one another in a beautiful and profound way.
And for that, I’m blessed. And cursed. Tragic. And magic. Connected. And therefore, powerful.