The Disease Identity
Our self identity is developed over time from birth on. What we think of ourselves may be partially built into our DNA, but I think most of it grows as we react to our environment. The relationship, or lack there of, we have with our parents, family, and friends has a profound effect. How we are treated by the other kids in grade school. Our sometimes tumultuous life as teenagers. How successful we are at work. Even our interaction with strangers. It all supports the view we hold of ourselves.
These inputs though are only the stimuli. It’s how we choose to react to them that forms our identity. In essence we choose who we are.
So what role does Leuk play? How much does he effect our feelings about ourselves?
When leukemia invades our bloodstream there is a real danger of making the disease dictate how we look at ourselves. I call it the Disease Identity.
Before Leuk arrived, I drew from my experiences as a son, brother, father, husband, friend, etc. But now I have to be careful to not identify myself with my illness.
The friends we choose transforms our thinking about who we are. Do we buddy up with life, or spend our days with Leuk?
You’d think writing this blog would make me spend more time with him than I otherwise would. But oddly enough, dumping my thoughts onto paper seems to release me from brooding over him. Still, there are moments when I think of myself as a leukemia patient.
By the way, I realize I’m writing on a computer. My words are just pixels on a white background that imitates paper. But I remember the days when people used to type on real paper with manual typewriters so the thinking still sticks.Yes, I’m an old fart.
Anyway, I suggest we get out more. It is easy to cloister ourselves and have a pity party. Instead we should spend more time with friends and family. Get up each morning with plans for the day. Find ways to help and encourage others. All this will take us out of ourselves. Participating in life helps us live life.
Let’s shake off the Disease Identity and make better decisions about who we are. I know it’s easier to say this than do it, and sometimes we have to think about our fight with Leuk; but not everyday.
If we are going to win the battle with him we first need to draw strength by remembering who we are and who we want to be. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu said you need to know your enemies and know yourself.
He never said be your enemy.