Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.
The first time I ever thought of that word was when I was told by a friend that I may have a chronic illness. I knew I had struggles, but they were just obstacles that I could jump over or find my way around them by doing just that. Working around them. To me, it was just life, something that I had grown up with so it had become as normal as riding a bike.
However, this is not all that I do. I don’t just try to hurdle over obstacles in my own life, but I do my very best to take others by the hand and let them jump with me. Why? I know what it’s like to struggle. I know what it is like to feel alone and think that no one understands what you’re going through. I know what it is like to have all of the energy in the world one minute and the next wanting to crawl back in bed because your body isn’t working right.
I get it. And you are a fearless fighter.
More often than not, I find myself like this, weights on my ankles. 2005, when I was in junior high, I remember having “issues” with myself. More of self-inflicted fights really. I couldn’t stand the thought of brushing my hair, always tied my shoes extremely tight, did my watch the same way, wore layers of clothes with the “bottom” layer as skin tight as my parents would allow me, and hated even the softest of touches. After talking with our family doctor, my parents got me into occupational therapy for what was known then as sensory integration dysfunction. (Now known as Sensory Processing Disorder).
It was like one moment I was a functioning teen and the next my brain had no connection to my arms or legs. Almost like zero gravity. I was standing on the floor but I couldn’t feel the floor through my feet because I had no idea on what I was even doing. And to be completely honest, it hasn’t changed over the years since. There isn’t a “cure” for this, it is a lifelong diagnosis that I get to “roll with the punches” as it happens.
I have learned how to hide it.
I hide it in the clothes I wear. I hide it in the heavy blankets on my bed. I hide it with the ankle weights inside my boots on my feet. I hide my uncertainty and my fear in plain sight, because, when I lose my sensory of my limbs, I never know when I will get it back. It may take hours, days, or weeks until everything appears “normal” again.
I’ve had people walk up to me and tell me that I’m strong for what I’ve lived through and especially when it comes to my health. Honestly, I still don’t know if I am. On my own, I have close friends who have had to uproot their entire lives because of what their illnesses have cost them. I guess that its become normal for me, more of those “here we go again” moments. If there’s one thing that I could take from having a condition that affects my sensory processing, it would be this….
There are lessons I’ve learned through this though. God is always within reach when I feel like my body is falling apart. Those days when I’m second guessing every step I take, God is just as close to me as if I was completely healthy and whole. Without a care in the world.
Joni Eareckson Tada said one time “I’d rather be in a wheelchair knowing God, than on my feet without him.” And for me it’s the same way; I’d rather have all of my sensory issues and know that God has me in his arms than walk around pain-free and be convinced that God doesn’t exist. Despite the Christian upbringing that told me otherwise.
We may not be strong on our own, but with God on our side, we are fearless.