Since I became ill I have changed. Not because I want to you understand, the change has been organic. My perceptions of situations, conversations, dynamics and people have changed. The people around me have changed. It’s strange how something invisible can change so many things. I have gradually gone from being hard as stone to being like a limp bit of lettuce. I used to have confidence in bucket loads and be able to shake off anything negative thrown at me. But since becoming ill and losing my job, that person has been taken away from me, against my will and I miss her. When I look in the mirror I don’t see her anymore, she has been beaten down, let down, knocked down and kicked in the stomach until any shred of the “old” strong me has ceased to exist.
Now I feel like I have become this weak sensitive bird with broken wings that nobody can see. My invisible illnesses have made ME invisible. I actually don’t know who the real me is. I don’t want to know her either. But I have to accept her and welcome her into my life whether I like it or not. I feel like I am wearing a dress that doesn’t fit right. It’s too short, too tight, too ugly and it doesn’t suit me.
I don’t fit in. I never fitted in when I was younger so the feeling is nothing new to me. The only change is that for the first time in my life I am so very desperate to fit in. These illnesses have created that feeling. I used to pride myself on not fitting in and just being me. Now all I want is compassion, understanding and acceptance. If the old me was reading this or any of my blogs she would be thinking how pathetic I am and she would be telling me to chin-up and get a grip. Unfortunately having any kind of chronic illness is a full-time job and you can just chin up and smile through it. Believe me. I have tried it for years. It was only when I lost my job that my mask fell off or was ripped off by my former employer. Being forced into ill-health retirement felt like such a kick in the stomach after nearly 16 years of service and I’m not going to lie, it broke me. my illness broke me but losing my job broke me completely I feel like I have a big metaphorical boot print on my face where they trampled all over me. With time to reflect, I am better off being out of there but that doesn’t change the way I was treated by my employers. If I have been treated with honesty and dignity the outcome for me would have been different. Being laid off by letter through the post is about as ironic and as cowardly as you can get. It stripped me of any confidence that I had left. It made me into a broken invisible bird.