In one of my kitchen drawers sits the voided pay stub that was my very first paycheck when I went back to work after 20+ years of being a stay at home mom. I used to have it in my wallet so I would see it often; it was a huge source of pride and represented an incredible new path I was forging for myself and my kids. Just before diagnosis I had taken the kids and me on a vacation and I was starting to shop for a new vehicle. That pay stub represented independence and newfound confidence. It represented the realization that others believed in me, too (my brother for one, who took a leap of faith in asking me to work for him).
The pay stub now sits in one of my kitchen drawers. I took it out of my wallet a couple years ago and almost threw it away but couldn’t, so I put it in the very back of my silverware drawer, thinking that would lessen the sting of seeing it and being reminded of all I’ve lost. However, each time I find myself looking for the actual “lost” kitchen serving spoon/ice cream scoop/other random kitchen gadgets, my hand finds a piece of paper that reminds me again of the thief named Dermatomyositis and Antisynthetase Syndrome that came into my life in 2016.
I could just throw it away. I could put it into a bin or the back of a bottom drawer full of items I know I don’t need and don’t use. I could burn it! I could shred it. I could tear it up into lots of little pieces–okay, no my hands wouldn’t cooperate enough with me to do that one– but still it’s an idea of what I *could* do with that damn paystub.
The truth is, I don’t want to get rid of it. This isn’t me clinging to negativity, though I could understand some seeing it that way, and at times, yes, the reminder of what was lost is definitely negative and there is no way around that; there’s no spinning it. I’ve worked so hard over the past 3 years since diagnosis to always find the positive somehow/someway, and I’ll keep doing that! At the same time I’m slowly, albeit very very slowly, learning that it is okay to accept the negative realities of having a serious, debilitating, chronic illness. It is my reality now and entwined into every fiber (quite literally! lol see I still have my sense of humor) of my being. I’m working on seeing that piece of paper now not only as what I’ve lost, but also as a reminder that I can still have those feelings of confidence and strength; I just have to find new ways to reinforce that about myself in spite of my disabilities.