However hard we try, sometimes, in life with a chronic illness, we are just not pretty. Rashes, hair loss, weight gain or loss, bruises, swelling in places we don’t want it – oh, the list is long! And, when the visible signs of chronic illness (or the audible sounds of an infection) are very, very strong, well, we just might opt for opting out of activities that put us in social situations where we’ll feel conspicuous. Better, we might think, to be in a protective environment than have to explain ourselves or silently bear the stares and glares of others. And, yes, sometimes that is better, because our emotions are tied in with our health, and sometimes we’re just too fragile to warrant venturing out.
But sometimes, it’s good to take stock of those less-than-attractive attributes and creatively, positively deal with them in a way that gives us a bit more confidence and helps us live a bit more socially.
Nearly 20 years ago, at the beginning of the horrible flare that ushered in lupus, I lost all of my hair. Since then, I’ve had one year when it grew back enough so that I did not have to wear wigs or other head coverings. I’ve long ago shed (pardon the pun) my embarrassment at being bald, and instead have learned to enjoy the variety available in the wigs, etc., that I have acquired. Moreover, I’ve learned how to move beyond “this is not pretty” to acceptpositively I interact with others; if I wilt under someone’s stare, I project weakness and sadness. But, if I smile back, despite how I feel or how lupus is affecting me that particular day, I project strength and faith.
Above all, it’s important to remember that we are, each of us, beautiful within. No cliche meant, here, only truth. Because each person who lives will experience physical changes that dismay, confound, or confuse. The aging process does not skip anyone! But it is the Spirit inside, the light and the humanity within, that carries abiding beauty that never ages and always shines – as long as we cherish and nurture it!