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    Created in 2008, Phoenix Rising is the largest and oldest forum dedicated to furthering the understanding of and finding treatments for complex chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), long COVID, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and allied diseases.

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I Am Grateful

I am grateful for my illness, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. I am grateful that I have been forced out of the world of Activity. I say this as an *old* person. I am 65. My 50th decade was a blur of pain, confusion, fear, anguish. But for the past 3 years I’ve been on a path of healing. This path might have become more of an oval at this point, my big gains might be all in the past. My future might even hold relapses or remission, but nothing will compare to the lurches in those days I had no understanding of my ailment. I am grateful that my illness, like the chronic ailments that preceded it, has been rather like a homeopathic dose: enough to stop me in my tracks, while not enough to incapacitate me in the way many others have been. This was true of the years of my asthma, of low back flares, the frozen shoulders and contractures of my hands. Even my under-treated hypothyroid: always the capacity to remain functionally ‘in the world’ prevailed.

I am grateful that my arms and hands can now type without inflammation. That I once again have a vocabulary large enough to post a comment. That my cognition is nearly good enough to understand what I need to. That my endurance, stamina, resilience have improved beyond any expectations. I now find myself to be a resourceful person. I am grateful that my nervous system has quietened down so that I’ve been able to return to meditation. Or to the idea of meditation. To the ability to watch my mind. I am no longer so jumping out of my skin that attending to my breath moving in and out is impossible. There is no longer such static in my head and ringing in my ears that watching thoughts sounds like an Olympic competition. Now, when the chatter is too much in my head, I know there is a mast cell problem, and I treat for it. When I’m overly sensitive to everything in my environment, it’s generally ammonia. My body is no longer like a black box, it’s contents unknowable to me. For this, I am supremely grateful. And, as I repeat whenever I can, grateful to all who contribute to these forums, from where I’ve learned to read and treat my symptoms.

I am grateful that in the years of anguish, when I still lived in the incredulity and disbelief that my life could have been torn asunder so totally, when my mind raged and ranged backwards and forwards through its memories, that my past became as if a field of rubble. I most certainly did not feel that at the time. The experience was that all my paths, all my attempts and ambitions, had led to defeat and humiliation. Nothing existed in my past worth keeping. And when my both parents died during this period, these deaths, that grief, those memories also became part of the rubble of my life. Nothing existed from which to build anything anew. Now I am grateful that my perseverating mind plowed through these rocky fields so many times that there is no longer anything left. I will not face dying with unresolved blames or guilts. When the mind was at its weakest, all those scenarios and recipes for bitterness played out in endless loops until they faded into nothingness.

My mind wants to say here, “but especially...”...But it’s hard to have an ‘especially’ without all these things that have preceded it....So, also...I am also so very grateful to have had this enforced opportunity to shift my focus from outer to inner. Not only the need to attend carefully to my body’s signals and symptoms, but to that which is beyond body and mind. To have been reminded over and over that I am not the body. I am not the mind. The “I” that exists in the silence of letting all that go, the Watcher that is one with Existence...this is what my enforced aloneness and inactivity have gifted me with. No longer a goal, waiting for when I finish with my ambitions, my needs and desires...it’s herenow. And instead of anguish that my past lies like rubble, I am reminded that each human being faces loss, disappointment, humiliation, despair. I have heard, “only losers win this game’. It is only a matter of time before each has to give up what was considered precious: love, success, dreams, health, the body itself. To have had the opportunity to experience these losses and find myself now healthy enough to contemplate life going on for some while more, I am grateful. To enter into old age with most of my illusions stripped away, feeling the peace that has resulted from that, I am grateful. For that which is to come, I am grateful.


You have a way to go before you get to old age. I am 61 and neither I nor my friend in her 70s intend to be old any time soon...

Rock on for as long as you can!
65 is very young, when we have a young spirit, and when we estimate our health and our live, each day is a present.
What you write, are good news for all in this forum: The long route of healing is worth the way. I wish you a happy day for each day of your live, with a look to the good things of our life.
Nice post ahmo. I was on a spiritual path before becoming ill but illness and isolation from most worldly influences have accelerated my progress on that path. I'm grateful for this side-effect of my illness.

"We are not born all at once, but by bits. The body first, and the spirit later; and the birth and growth of the spirit, in those who are attentive to their own inner life, are slow and exceedingly painful. Our mothers are racked with the pains of our physical birth; we ourselves suffer the longer pains of our spiritual growth."
―Mary Antin
Beautifully written @ahmo. You put into words my feelings about my journey from outer to inner- it is a gift, albeit one none of us asked for or want... The phrase 'my past became as if a field of rubble' exactly describes life now.

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