Feeling Powerless, Yet Powerful!

The lovely Lana at Living it, Loving it brought to my attention that today is Bloggers Unite, “Empowering People With Disabilities”. Thanks, Lana! If it weren’t for you, I may have never known about this. Those with disabilities or those that love them are encouraged to raise awareness by sharing their experiences about living with a disability by blogging about it. This is certainly a theme worth writing about because when one is disabled, they feel anything but empowered, they often feel powerless. When my former rheumatologist told me during my first visit with him that I had rheumatoid arthritis, that there was no known cure, no known cause and chances of remission were very slim, I felt the rug yanked out from under me and the breath knocked out of me. I instantly felt powerless. Powerless to control what was going on in my body and what my doctor said was going to happen to my body. Powerless to be the wife and mother I wanted to be. Powerless to simply do and be all that I hoped I could be.

As we all know, disabilities come in all shapes and sizes. There are those that are visible and more than obvious to everyone they encounter. And there are those that are invisible. As one who suffers from an invisible illness, which rears it’s ugly head of disability without any warning, I have dealt with struggles that have taken place within myself, with my doctors and in my relationships with others. It hasn’t been easy. I have moaned and cried, thrown a few pity parties, prayed, pleaded and have seen relationships suffer as a result of my disease.

When you struggle with a disability, you often face criticism and judgement. It can come from perfect strangers, co-workers, friends, loved ones, and medical professionals. I have felt the judgement of friends that might as well just roll their eyes right in front of me when they ask me how I am doing. I don’t like to tell most friends how I am doing anymore because they either make me feel like a fraud, offer suggestions or cures that belittle what I am struggling with or criticize the way I have handled my disease. I have even felt like some that care about me believe that I have brought this on myself. I explored this road and it brings with it a lot of hurt and pain. It’s not to say that our psyches can’t wreak havoc on our systems. But I no longer believe for a second that I have been the sole cause of my disease.

Now that I deal with pain on some level everyday and have to use a handicap placard on particularly difficult days (when I used to be the girl that parked as far as possible for a little extra exercise), I notice everyone that walks with a limp, crutches or a cane, or must maneuver themselves around in a wheelchair. My heart cries out to them. But most people don’t notice my disability. (Which quite honestly, I am thankful for. I could do without the added criticism, judgement and sympathy.) And although I appear healthy and able to the outside world, on most days it hurts when I walk, when I get dressed in the morning, when I cook, when I shower, when I carry my baby, etc. This brings with it a feeling of loneliness and isolation at times. And when those that are disabled must also struggle to work and live and get the support they need from friends, family and government in addition to these feelings, it can feel like an awfully unpleasant world to live in at times. This is why the need for greater awareness is critical.

In the midst of this though, I believe we have the ability to feel powerful. For me, this has come from discovering that I am bigger than my disease. It does not define me, what I love and what I believe. I’ve had to dig deep within my spirit and that has brought power. Power to be brave despite the uncertainty of my future now that I have been diagnosed with a lifelong disease, power to accept that this is my new norm, power to let go of the things I can no longer do. But most importantly for me, dealing with a disability has brought me closer to Christ than I have ever been before. And that’s what I call power!

Blessings to everyone dealing with disabilities and those that love them.

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11 thoughts on “Feeling Powerless, Yet Powerful!

  1. Kelli, Awesome post.

    You are powerful. Everyone one has the power to stand up for something. In the beginning, I remember being very powerless and one day, I awoke to the reality that I was NOT alone and neither are you. It is harder when loved ones meet you with disbelief, but strangers will always be strangers. What I have learned about power is that you have more than you think you can have. However, every day is reminder. It makes life hard and when I overdo things at home or at work, I pay for it later. It does not stop me but my sister told me the other day that I have changed because even though I have always been strong, since my diagnosis, I often have to stop and ask myself if I should give up.

    You are absolutely right about being bigger than the disease. You and every person who struggles are exceptional because despite illness, you are powerful.

    Come by and post your link at my blog.

    • Thanks, Lana. Really means a lot coming from you.

      Some days, when I read other blogs, I cry. Yours is one of them. It just breaks my heart to read about what you and others have had to deal with for so many years–and continue to deal with on a daily basis. A person can only take so much sometimes. Who can blame you for asking if you should give up some days?! I’m so glad that we are not alone. I find great comfort in that. Your blog has truly been a blessing to me. Thanks again for bringing the Bloggers Unite site to my attention. It caused a lot of introspection the last couple days.

  2. Hello, I followed your link from Lana’s blog. Lana is amazing, with all that she does for the arthritis community.
    You’re so right about being judged. With the exception of a few close family and friends, I just tell everyone I’m good. I don’t want to allow them into a part of my life and feelings when most people don’t really care to begin with.
    “I am bigger than my disease”. What an awesome attitude! You are indeed powerful.

    • Thanks so much, Terry! Lana is amazing. I’m amazed by all that she does. I say the same thing to people–I’m good. Sometimes I feel like I should be telling everyone I have RA in an attempt to educate. But I’m just not there yet. The idea of telling everyone is overwhelming and exhausting. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. You and Lana are both amazing, causing me daily to realize my blessings as well as my own strengths. This disease, after all, is in no way for wimps. Hence, we are God’s chosen soldiers. We fight for equality, understanding and to help others recognize the utmost importance of doing our parts in helping bring this disease to its knees.

    I have never met you in person, and I consider both of you my sisters. Whaterver it is you need, please ask. We are all in this together.

    xoxo

    RASB

    • RASB,

      Words are not enough to tell you how much I needed to receive your comment tonight. Just not enough…. thank you with all my heart for your kindness. God definitely used you today in my life. RASB, something has happened…I feel like a switch has been flipped in my brain. I went from feeling ok to suddenly not being able to stop the tears in the last couple days (I’m talking knock down, drag out crying jags with moans and wails that I have NEVER seen the likes of before.) I’m like–what the #&*! It’s completely different from my usual crying spells. It’s been coupled with fatigue that has laid me out harder than I’ve ever been laid out before. By three o’clock, flu like fatigue symptoms slam me like a ton of bricks and I go down. Sucks. Anyway, sweet sister, could definitely use some prayer. Covering you in prayer tonight, sweetie. And the same goes for you–if you EVER need anything–I’m just a phone call away. You have my e-mail. Many, many blessings to you and your family.

      • Girl,

        I have been there so many times, and sadly, you and I will both have more days like that in the future, I’m sure. But someone usually comes along and helps me feel stronger, and it is usually one of us – we are the only ones who can relate. Even my cute little senior citizens with RA say they can’t imagine raising small children with this disease, and I’m sure they can’t. That is why we young women, mothers, wives, and career women have to lean on each other from time to time. We’re the only ones that really really get it.

        My father has been emailing me furiously all week about flying up to see my stepmother. She is, unfortunately, very ill with cancer. He only invited myself and my young son to come up, and he keeps saying how we have to work around her medical appts. I’m thinking #1. Does he not realize I have just as many appts.? #2, How is he going to handle a daughter with RA, a wife with cancer, and a four year old without my husband’s help???

        See, after all this time, he STILL does not get it. To him, she is the sick one, and I have aches and pains. Ummm…what about 2 weeks ago when my husband had to CARRY me out of my mother’s house? Thankfully, the Rituxan seems to be working better than anything has, but it has only been 10 days. I’m holding my breath. But there is no reason to believe I can handle my son and a flight 1/2 way across the country and back by myself! In any case, I’m glad I came across your response b/c it just hit me how hard we are the only ones that truly get this.

        xoxo

  4. Just dropped by to let you know I mentioned you and provided a link back to your blog in my latest post. Hope everything is going good for you.
    Terry

  5. Hi there,

    I just came across your blog via Lana’s blog on her Versatile Blogger post. I just love your writing – I appreciate your openness and honesty and I think we have a lot in common. I have lived with spondylitis, a progressive and severe form of arthritis in every joint. I’d be honored if you checked out my blog sometime – http://www.lovingwithchronicillness.blogspot.com

    I’m sending you pain-free wishes and I will definitely be keeping up with your blog. Thank you for being you.

    All my best,
    Maya

    • Hi Maya!

      So great to meet you. And you’re a New York sister to boot! Thank you for such a sweet reply. You really made my day. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write a new post lately. So it’s always so wonderful to hear from people when you least expect it. I am really looking forward to reading more on your blog and getting to know you better. I did take a peek and discovered that we are both animal lovers. : ) Thanks so much for stopping by. I truly hope you are having good days. You will be in my prayers as well.

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