The Past, Feelings and Chronic Illness

I don’t receive personal emails very often, so usually when I check my email, it is some combination of work-related messages, spam and messages from organizations or retailers I’ve had some affiliation with in the past. And, by “some affiliation with” I mean shopping.

chronic illness, coping, feelings

©Photocreo via

Today, however, one of the emails caused a stir of emotion. The subject line alerted me that it was time for Fall Skeeball League sign ups. I bet you didn’t know I played on a skeeball team in my past life.

I am certainly no skeeball whiz kid, but I love it! Combine that with having a standing date each week with two of my good friends and pumpkin ale, and you have yourself a recipe for fun. But ultimately, I have a love/hate relationship with this fond memory.

On one hand, my heart overflows with gratitude. There was once a time in my life where I was healthy, I had a disposable income, I lived near my friends, and I basically got to do what I wanted, when I wanted. It is a true blessing that I was afforded that season of my life.

On the other hand … UGH! Since I had to move back home, my friends are now an hour away, my pumpkin ale cravings have to go unsatisfied, being in public — especially someplace loud and crowded — just makes me dizzy and overheated, and I don’t get to do what I want, and certainly not when I want. I am not in control. I miss that past life like crazy.

I don’t see much value in focusing on the past or woulda, shoulda, coulda. I know it is best to just be happy and grateful with the wonderful moments I’ve been given in my life, but I also know that sometimes you need to admit the feelings of sadness and disappointment.

So, how do you deal with this dichotomy? It is important to call it what it is and acknowledge that both sides of your feelings exist and live close to each other. Be honest with yourself, and some days, you have to let yourself truly feel the sad and cry it out. Today, I decided to deal with it by a) writing about it and b) texting my former skeeball teammates to tell them I miss them and I am glad we have that memory to share.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic bullet here. Having a conflicted relationship with your pre-illness life is just a reality. Coping can be a bit of trial and error, and if you are new to the chronic life, please know that it can take time to get to a place of acceptance, but even once you make it there, an innocuous subject line can still sneak in and make you feel all the feels. (I think that’s what the kids are saying these day … or has that gone out of style like LOL?)


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