Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Changes in Identity

When did you stop being 'you' and when did you start being 'you with LPLD?'  Or are you still just 'you,' your identity intact by itself, without your chronic disease really being part of you?

I've been married to my husband for 10 years now.  10 glorious years of rejoicing and suffering together.  But I remember thinking for the longest time how weird it was that my co-workers only knew me with my 'new' last name.  I felt that no one 'really' knew me unless that knew me by my maiden name.  My married last name still felt a little foreign and itchy, like a new wool sweater.  There were parts of my husband's family and last name that I didn't really want to be 'me.'  I liked my own family, and besides, my maiden name was a lot cooler than this boring one.

The other day I realized, though, that my married last name finally feels like 'me.'  My husband's family are my children's grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and they finally feel just as essential to our little family as my own parents and brother and sister.  They all have their flaws, but I can't imagine life without them.  The people who know me best in the world finally could know me by my current last name!  This is embarrassing to admit, but I wonder if it's similar to adapting to a chronic disease.

At first, it feels like LPLD is an outside invader, that's not really who you are, it doesn't adequately match up to who you are deep down.  Deep down, you are a person who would love to eat ice cream and full fat cheese, and LPLD is just a facade that you have to wear to stay healthy.

Maybe it takes a decade, but is there a point where LPLD becomes important to your identity?  It's part of who you are.

It reminds me of how Catholics believe that Jesus Christ still has the holes in his hands and feet and side from being crucified, even in Heaven where there is no longer suffering or death.  He doesn't feel pain from them, but those wounds were recived in His greatest act, an act that redeemed suffering and death for all time.  LPLD is certainly not an easy thing to live with, but in some way, maybe you'll still have it in heaven.  Not in a way that hurts you or affects the way you 'live,' but as a badge of honor of how you suffered on Earth, and grew in courage, love for others, and love for your own body.  Even when it was hard.  I wonder if it becomes more than a burden, and eventually transforms you into more of the person you were meant to be.
Newlywed and certainly NOT used to my maiden name!

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