Monday, October 8, 2012

“I” and “We”

Recently, a Facebook friend posted this quote: "When 'I' is replaced by 'we,' even 'illness' becomes 'wellness.'"  It's an interesting sentence, both linguistically and conceptually, and in general MCS terms there is a lot of truth to the slogan. Those of us with chemical sensitivities can make non-toxic product choices for ourselves, but for us to function in the world with any degree of wellness requires others to make the same decisions.

The concept is very appropriate for me this week, not just in general terms, but in a very specific way. On two recent days, a small army of people invaded my house in order to help make it safer for me. As I mentioned in a previous post, safe housing is a huge need in the MCS community. Although my situation is much less dire than that of many others, I've personally been unable to sleep inside for over a year. Some friends have decided to do what they can to get me back in my home before winter and I'm exceptionally grateful for their assistance.

This experience reminds me again that help can be both very welcomed and somewhat difficult to accept. For the reasons mentioned in the post Illness and Shame, limitations imposed by chronic sickness often bring with them a degree of embarrassment. I think I've made progress in confronting that thought pattern, but when my friends started talking about helping, I realized I hadn't come as far as I thought I had. The gratitude and relief I felt was mixed with a healthy dose of discomfort and awkwardness.

The truth is, though, that I do need help. The job of doing what needs to be done to keep myself functioning is bigger than my resources. I'm more fortunate than many of my fellow MCS sufferers because I have a wonderful, supportive husband who does what he can to take care of me. He needs help, too, though. The job is bigger than both of us.

I find it interesting that within the span of a few verses in Galatians 6 we are told both to bear one another's burdens and carry our own load. I don't know the nuances of the words in the original language or how to determine when loads become burdens. I do know, though, that sometimes they do and that together we can lift burdens that are too heavy to carry alone.

Thank you, burden-bearers. Thank you to all who have helped me, both financially and logistically, with my house project. Special thanks go to Karen and Roseann. Your friendship is a treasured gift.

There are many, many people with MCS who are struggling under burdens too heavy for them to carry alone. I read accounts literally every day of people with very serious MCS-related housing needs. The story in this recently posted You Tube video is far too familiar. I don't know this couple, but I empathize deeply with their situation and I know they represent thousands more who are equally desperate.

I pray for all of my fellow MCS sufferers who are struggling with burdens that are too heavy to lift without help. I pray that some aspects of "I" will be turned to "we" so that some aspects of illness can be turned to wellness. I'm so grateful for the help I've had this week and I pray that others will have the assistance they need, too. Hurray for the burden-bearers. May their ranks multiply. 

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