Lost: Identity. Found: Scared 12 year old.

November 3, 2008 at 12:11 pm 3 comments

Please, never pick up a chronic illness until after adolescence. Just trust me on this one.

I’ve been feeling…weird lately. I say weird, because the word I’m looking for doesn’t actually exist. I mean, is there a word for “my whole identity feels weird and screwed up because I didn’t have an adolescence so now I sometimes feel like a 12 year old in a twenty year old’s body”?

Yeah, I didn’t think there was.

As a teenager, you’re kind of supposed to go out and do stupid stuff. I mean, that’s basically the definition of being a teenager – you get a little more drunk than you should (occasionally much more), you try a little weed (or a lot), you have sex with a couple people (or tons). Basically, you think you’re invincible. Obviously, not every teenager is like this, and some are very sensible, but either way, you do things that push the boundaries of your life, and slowly help you evolve into adulthood. The key word here is slowly. You get at least a solid decade of experimentation and rebellion before people start expecting you to grow up and be responsible for yourself.

I got diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 12. I got drop kicked into adulthood.

My entire joke of an adolescence was about being responsible. Taking care of myself. Being afraid of anything that might make me more sick. Learning pretty much overnight that I was most definitely not invincible, and that I was, in fact, very vulnerable.

My idea of rebellion? Not taking my multivitamins.

Getting 90’s in school when everyone expected me to barely keep up (nearly killed myself doing that one).

Staying in French Immersion after they tried to kick me out, because they didn’t think I was capable of keeping up.

I spent my entire adolescence trying to prove to everyone that I was still capable, still competent – and mostly trying to prove it to myself. I think I still am.

Reclaiming ME

For a long time, I lost my identity to this disease. All I was, was an illness. I couldn’t see anything else.

About 2 years ago, I finally managed to stop seeing myself as a walking disease (woo!) and I’ve been rebuilding my identity ever since. The thing is, when I stripped away those beliefs, it left with me my former identity – that of being a twelve year old girl. And I don’t think I even realized that until yesterday – that I still feel like a child inside.

And I’m realizing that maybe that’s why I feel like I can’t make decisions, or take big leaps or try new things – because I still see myself as a child, trying to deal with adulthood, and its kind of overwhelming. And because I’ve spent such a long time fearing pretty much everything, and feeling like I’m still only a small, scared child, its hard for me to step up, and do “big adult things”. Cus hey, says my subconscious, I’m just a kid, right?

Its about redefining myself as something more, someone more. Its about seeing myself as someone who is capable, dependable and strong. And I’m pretty sure everyone feels the same way sometimes. Like, “Hey, when the hell did I become a responsible adult?” (I know for a fact my 56 year old father does this a lot.)

So I’m working on 1) hugging myself mentally. I’m never going to be able to expand myself if I’m just hating on me for feeling like a kid. And 2) reminding myself that, yes, I have accomplished things in life and no, I’m not completely useless. And that I have something to offer to the world, and that no one is going to turn around and yell at me for being an uppity 12 year old (smile).

Its a process. But at least its one I’ve started.


Entry filed under: Coping With Chronic Illness, Healing Emotional Wounds. Tags: , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. originalpurity  |  November 4, 2008 at 5:03 am

    Hi Sarah,

    Your tale is an inspiring one for others who are battling such illneses.

    I can definately see those traits in you, A – kick ass – fighter.

    Happy Birthday – soon – does that make you a Scorpio?

    Be Blessed, Kal

  • 2. originalpurity  |  November 4, 2008 at 6:35 pm


    Having just re-read your post can I say – will ya lighten up on the gal 🙂

    You have achieved much to be proud of and to show off to the world too – so lighten up on yourself and take this advice from a friend.

    Your fantastic! nuff said, Kal

  • 3. shelli  |  November 8, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I admire your tenacity in dealing with CFS. I would like to put a link to your blog on my website http://www.chronic-fatigue-community.com, but I wanted to get your permission, first. It’s a work in progress! But, I think the courage and accomplishments of someone like you is helpful and inspiring to people like me.



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