Reflecting on Life, Peace, and Lupus After My 27th Birthday
'What a gift it is to be happy': Self-determination lifts a rise like the phoenix's
On the 27th of November, I turned 27. Waking up that morning next to my partner, Felix, felt surreal. It’s been six and a half years since I was diagnosed with lupus, and while I can’t tell you for certain what I thought my life would look like, I didn’t picture this.
At my diagnosis, I didn’t know what to expect from the years ahead. But part of me held tight to erring on the side of caution. No one knew how I’d react to medication, and no one knew to what extent I’d recover, if at all. I figured I wouldn’t be let down if I didn’t hope for too much. Anything good would be a bonus.
A short summation of age 26 would call it “the year I chose myself, no matter the cost.” Much like when I was diagnosed in 2016, this past year has seen heartache and life-altering upset. But it’s also given way to resilience, victory, and personal evolution in a way that only severe disturbance can.
The year began with a plan for a house and a future that I thought I wanted. They were plans for a commitment that I’d consciously chosen and taken steps toward because it brought me love and happiness. Until it didn’t anymore.
I’ve never known such drastic upset. The last time I went through a breakup, I put myself in the hospital for my lupus diagnosis. The prospect terrified me. There was no way to know how my body would react to such overwhelming emotional distress. But even with the knowledge that it could send me back to square one, I threw myself into the deep end.
In 2016, my life was altered beyond repair, but it was out of my hands. In 2022, I came full circle: Yet again my life was turned upside down, but this time I walked into it consciously and knowingly, eyes wide open.
There was fear in creating the ultimate chaos, but power in knowing I chose the rocky road and could wander it as I pleased. It takes self-confidence to wholeheartedly trust yourself while you leave life and love as you’ve known it behind. But I did.
I did it not because I had something better lying in wait, but because when I came to a fork in the road, there were only two options. And even with the knowledge that doing so would bring me pain, I chose the road to my future and long-term happiness.
I chose myself.
There are plenty of times when I’ve looked at my life and had visions of 10 years into the future. Today, I see my future more clearly than ever. I see Felix and love — oh, so much of it! I see a level of stability, support, and care that I’ve never known and didn’t know I needed. There is teamwork and help in bearing the load on the days when the world feels too heavy for me to carry alone.
I know that sailing won’t always be smooth. But this time I’m confident the vessel I’ve chosen is built to weather the seas, no matter how treacherous.
Every major decision I’ve made this year, I made with my gut. In the long run, I see all the turns and all the steps it took to get me where I am. I recall all the time spent mulling over options and can see how it’s taken me less and less consideration over time. The older I get, the more I honor that feeling in my stomach, and it’s yet to let me down.
Today, I’m sitting outside on a beanbag, enjoying the weather in the shade, wholly content. Of all the things I planned, I never planned for contentment. I spent so long fighting on one front or another, I forgot what it was like to be at peace.
After six and a bit years, the world is finally starting to slow down for me. There’s still a lot of fire, anger, and defiance inside of me, but I’m working out how to let it ebb and flow as needed.
It’s taken me a long time to find the right time, environment, and people to feel at peace. At 27, I’ve found the space to be at peace with the world, with life, and with myself. What a gift it is to be happy. What a time to be alive!
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