Don’t take this as pity, but fact. Chronic illness has taught me to really decrease my ambition and I am the sort that creates goals and has ambitions. A person at work asked me about my career goals and I told him flat out after coming back from a long-term leave of absence I was looking forward to some employment consistency. As in maintaining. If I can maintain, I will be content.
Because I am really not allowed to have aspirations for more than that. It would be complicated. It would require further study. It would mean more stress. Stress means a strain on the body. The strain on the body and stress means more pain. Lack of balance could mean a lot more pain. And a lot of time to get any sense of stability back… if ever. The last thing I want to do is rock the boat at all. But of course, I have ideas of where I want to be in five years. Of course, I would normally want to make progress. But, not in this body. In this body, I want to maintain.
Part of me loathes this. I had such dreams for myself that I could never attain due to chronic pain causing more and more of a complication in my life. I will always wonder what that life would have been like. This alternate reality of mine where I could have attained those goals and a career that I wanted. Or in the general area even. The road not traveled.
Part of me though is really practical. I realize I will have these chronic conditions Forever. Managing stress, understanding limits and moderating my activities is part of the game plan. Therefore choosing a job that fits in with that… as best as that is even possible is what is necessary. At a certain point, like now, I have to be satisfied with my progress because the stresses of advancement simply do not make any logical sense. Income is satisfactory…ish. Not great, but not horrible. It is in fact hard enough to work At All with chronic pain conditions. It is very easy to make it harder than it needs to be. I would like to make it as easy as possible.
I like the benefits of working. The fact it gets me out of the house and socializing. The income stability. Helping customers. The stimulation every day. But the pain is shockingly brutal.
However, there is a point in your life with chronic illness when you just know that working is not all there is to life. Not all there is to your wellbeing and health. There are important considerations you need to think of to keep balance in your life. I want to sustain some sort of balance and maintain the work I have. And that is a goal worthy of having. Nothing more, nothing less.
We will always think about what could have been. Mourn who we were. What we could have been. But we are Not that person. We are an entirely different person. With different strengths. And we need different goals.