My life has not taken the path society deems “normal”. I did a lot of stupid things when I was young – more so than most. I became a mom at 21 without a partner. When my little girl came along I grew up and got serious about life. I worked…a lot…and hard. I entered a mans profession in construction management. I got tough real quick. I loved it, but it required me to use my already hard exterior in an extreme way in order to be taken seriously.
My 2nd daughter was born when I was 31 (and still single). She came into the world with purpose and challenged me to pick up my game as a mom.
Both of my girls have become amazing young women. Watching them grow and develop their individual characters has been the greatest gift God could bless me with.
I wanted a partner to share life’s experiences with me. I wanted someone to go through the hard times holding my hand. So at 35, I married a guy – simply because he asked.
A year later…we separated and I declared war on personal relationships with any and all men. My heart grew hard and I became intently focused on career success.
Still in a mans world, I learned from the best. I watched leaders as they commanded meetings and presentations. I dug deep into the details of reports and letters and the management of people.
I also learned about God and dove into studying the bible and sharing knowledge with others. God brought me great comfort, and helped me become more compassionate and loving towards others, bringing balance to the harshness of my career.
At 43, a man I had known through church asked me out to coffee. I said no – but he persisted to push past my hard shell. I fell head over heels and lost sight of everything else. He shook my world so hard that I couldn’t see straight. And then he balanced my entire life and helped me find focus. This new world was hard to accept. It involved trusting a man with my entire life. It involved trusting God with my entire world, and with what would become my marriage. And that was very hard to do.
All of these things (and so much more) have played intricate roles in the development of the woman I have become. And I liked that woman. She was strong, but vulnerable. She was smart, but compassionate. She loved, but wasn’t a doormat. She was good, successful, happy.
I was infected by a tick in 2006. I became ill and developed fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease/arthritis. My symptoms were bad, but I managed to continue life. My daughters became my caretakers when I was too ill to function. I pushed through for several years and eventually my health improved somewhat and we found a balance between normal life and spells of pain and illness. We just figured out how to make it all work.
7 years after I was bitten, one year after David and I married, our world crashed. My body became overwhelmed by pain and sickness, so much so that I could no longer work or drive, and couldn’t get out of bed without help. I used a cane and/or wheelchair on a fairly regular basis.
We spent almost a year trying to find a diagnosis in the hopes of getting help. We went to doctor after doctor and eventually ended up at Stanford (4 hrs away) doing Lydocaine infusions every 2 weeks. Nothing helped. I just kept getting worse.
We knew several people with Lyme and had learned enough about it to believe that’s what I had. Getting a doctor to acknowledge it was a different story.
We finally saw a specialist (LLMD) who diagnosed me with Lyme, borreliosis and bartonella, and over time we also learned I had multiple viruses, parasites, mold toxicity and lead poisoning.
The diagnosis brought great relief and I am grateful to have a doctor who continually looks for answers and treats the specific illnesses and symptoms I am experiencing.
This road has been hard – not just on me, but on my husband and children as well. I have had to learn to become completely reliant on others. I fought it – I still fight it. But more and more the hard shell of a career woman and single mom has become softer. I have had to allow myself to become vulnerable, and to recognize that a man (my man) is an amazing gift. I still feel like a burden much of the time. But my family loves me and I know they will be here every step of the way.
I don’t want to be sick. I pray for healing every day. But God has used this illness to change me. He has made me a better woman. And He has allowed me to see the depth of love my husband and children have for me. It’s humbling. And it’s beautiful.
I am not perfect. I have many flaws. I will continue to change and I pray to become a better person. But…
I have become the woman I am because of my experiences and the way I chose to go through them. Tickborne disease is one part of my world. It is simply one of the many experiences that have made me the woman I am. A woman of both strength and weakness, courage and vulnerability, love, passion, desire, and hope.
Be the woman you are. Strive to become better. Don’t let your situation define you. Respond to whatever you are going through by letting it change you for the better.
After all, it is your character that defines you – not your situation, not your illness, not your suffering, not even your blessings.