Thriving as Nobody in an “Everybody Needs to Be Somebody” World

In a world where everybody is told they need to be somebody, lying flat on my back and unable to move was not a position I considered optimal for thriving. In fact, with my eyes on the blades of an equally immobile ceiling fan, the only thing I could do was trace dust.

It wasn’t the first time I’d found myself in this predicament. At the age of forty, anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) sent me to the emergency room for rescue. Despite extensive tests for my immune system’s repeated allergic reactions, no one could name my specific disease. Instead of answers, doctors gave strong medications in attempts to mask my symptoms. They also suggested lifestyle changes that might help . . . but also might not.

Chronic pain, inflammation, and neurological issues continued to be part of my life until, at age fifty, I contracted mononucleosis (a viral infection), further adding to an already complicated situation. My unstable immune system failed to control the virus, leaving me with chronic Epstein-Barr. The virus caused chaos in my body and led to weight gain, which only further strained my relationships, because my “able-ness” left me feeling purposeless, invisible, and misunderstood. This, in turn, ultimately isolated me from the ones I thought would see me and care.

Friends commented, “What happened to you?” and “You used to be so beautiful.” Others sent well-meaning messages on social media, offering to purchase things they thought to be “solutions” to my situation. I was no longer the somebody they used to know. To be honest, I was no longer the somebody I once knew. I no longer recognized myself . . . and whenever I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a nobody.

My gaze locked onto the dusty fan as words wet with tears spilled out to God: If this is how I have to live for the rest of my life, then I don’t want to live at all!

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