If you have a passion for something that you can no longer do because of physical impairment, do you truly stop loving it? Then why do we say: “I used to love to…”?
This is one of the most heart-wrenching parts in coming to terms with disability. When you go to say or write the thing you’ve always loved to do, and you realize it is suddenly in past tense. It doesn’t stop twinging your heart each and every time you have to say that you USED to love hiking or taking long road trips. But you come to terms with saying it in past tense. I did. Reluctantly, my old life of passions and dreams were exchanged for my new life of “used to love” and “always enjoyed”. One by one, I locked away those pieces of myself I no longer had physical access to.
Then, a few years ago, my health became much worse. I went from moderately mobile with chronic pain to bed bound with a variety of chronic illnesses and chronic pain conditions. Now, I’ve found myself cutting out all of the rest of life’s pleasures from the list of things I love. How can I say, “I used to love music” or “I used to enjoy singing” or “cooking used to be one of my passions” when these are all lies!
The truth is, I am still passionate about all of these things! Just because I cannot participate in them actively, does not mean the joy has not remained. In fact, when my brain condition and ongoing migraine becomes insufferable, even with no sound tolerable, getting lost into a silent song within myself has at times been my only reprieve from the unrelenting pain. My instruments now live in cases in shelves above my bed, or tucked away in closets. My voice has not echoed against the wall in song for years, but every day an instrument plays… A song cries out loudly inside of me. A different arrangement every single day, melodies no one hears but myself- and this music will not stop just because my ears cannot tolerate sound! No pain, no disability, no illness or mental destruction can take that music away from me.
Just because parts of my flesh weaken, and I am forced to make adjustments and accommodations to that- doesn’t mean that my passions and loves should crumble along with my flesh. There is nothing wrong with how much I desire. I refuse to shut parts of myself off just because I might FEEL more to live with passion.
Even though I can no longer cook, do I not still love it? I don’t need to be standing upright at a stove or walking the isles of a grocery store to envision a new recipe. I can visualize the food in front of me. I can imagine the flavors of a recipe in my mind’s eye. Is this not the passion for cooking still alive inside of me? Even when my POTS makes eating the last thing I want to do, I can still escape my pain through the simple joy of imagining myself cooking. Why would I ever say “I used to enjoy cooking” when that zeal continues to live strong inside of me?
Though pieces of my body may break, though my mind might continue to slow, though things I am able to do may drift away from my grasp, I choose not to allow that which I love break away. I choose to hold my passions that much closer to me.
And for those I let go so long ago, I would like to reclaim them. I ask that in comments, you consider reclaiming some of your own that you know you will always love forever.
-I have always loved to travel.
-Hiking is a love of mine.
-Dancing will always be one of my passions.
Thank you to artist Fensterer for allowing your artwork, “Lost Between the Sounds” to be featured. This was the only image I could imagine for this article, as his powerful work helped inspire it. Check out his other powerful images at DeviantArt.