Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day. -Dalai Lama
Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy has been thinking a lot about the “old me” and the “new me”. By the old me, I guess I mean the person who I was before rheumatoid arthritis. Along these same lines, the new me would mean the person who I have become while living with rheumatoid arthritis.
During these past few months, memories of my old self would occasionally pass through my mind. These images that I used to have of myself felt more and more distant with each passing day. And to be honest, I can’t even really remember what it was like to not live with chronic pain and debilitating information. This was back at a time when I, like many others, did not know what “rheumatoid arthritis” meant.
The odd thing about these recent flashbacks was that whenever they happened, I found myself focusing on my new self – and I really liked what I saw. This was a good feeling to have – even as I was encountering increased periods of mobility loss in my hands and feet. I could spend lots of time sulking about the passing of individual who I used to be, but in the long run doing so would not help me much.
The truth of the matter is that – with or without rheumatoid arthritis – I would still be a very different person in the present than I was in the past.
Before I started writing this post, I wanted to come up with a graphic representation of the old me versus the new me.
For the old me, I wanted to convey a sense of completeness, particularly when it came to my physical being. Though “complete”, there was also a blurry edge – things were not as in focus as they are in the present.
For the new me, it was important to represent a person – who though was not as “complete” as before – is actually much more balanced and focused. Sure, there are parts of my physical body that don’t work nearly as well as I would like them to, but I do think that this has allowed me to concentrate on and appreciate more the parts that do work.
And as I finalized this image (shown above), I was quite startled by the results. There is one me that strongly stands out between the two – and that is the new me. Sure, a lot of the old me remains in the new me, but there has been quite a bit of change. I really do like who the new me has become.
I appreciate the beauty of cutting my own food and lifting it to my mouth, all on my own. I know the peace that comes with once again being able to get dressed, without having to ask for help. I understand the sense of accomplishment that results from being able to walk across the room, without a cane or crutches.
All of these items represent wonderful additions to my new life. Had it not been for my rheumatoid arthritis, I would have never been able to recognize the beauty in these “little” things.
Even though I have had a great handful of days during this past week, I have no doubt that rheumatoid arthritis will continue to take away different aspects of my current self. I know that these losses will not come easy…they have not been easy in the past and I don’t expect them to be easy in the future.
As long as I accept the new person who I currently am, while not forgetting the person who I used to be, I know everything will be okay.
By the way…I also look forward to one day meeting the person who I have yet to become.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!