A small red boat with a pink sail is in the middle of a stormy sea during a squall.

The Desecration Of Sense Of Self 

Red used to be my favorite color as a child. I used to see myself as a rose with various shades of vibrant red throughout my many petals. The rose is a flower that is seen by some to signify love and passion. For others, the powerful scent elicited makes others weak in their knees. The sharp thorns provide protection from invaders.

To me, roses were all those things and more. They represented strength, independence, grace, and immense integrity. All I wanted to do was be like that.

Watching myself slip away

These petals and thorns were not just the idealizations of myself. I related and compared them to my skills, my self-confidence, self-worth as a person, a woman, a friend, my creative self, and all my deepest treasures. When this monstrous poltergeist, my MS diagnosis, moved in and set up shop, the gut-wrenching sensation of my petals being torn off began.

The loss of each petal represented something so dear to me I would literally writhe in emotional agony. The closer to my core being exposed, the more anguish I would feel.

It was like pieces of Jenny ripped off so fast and shredded as though a hurricane had blown through. Tears streaming down my face as the bits blew away while I tried to command them back in pathetic futility.

It was at this deepest core level where I felt the beast violated me the most. It obliterated my intellectual, physical, emotional, and sexual self. It controlled my every breath, thoughts, needs, wants, and desires. I had become a guru of loss.

Feeling lost in this new way of life

The damage the poltergeist did and carried on doing was profound. The disease was so intense I felt completely alone in a tiny dinghy far out to sea in the middle of a seething storm, without a helm nor a compass with which to bring me back to port. 

The waves were massive, rogue at times, furious rain, with angry black clouds. The swirling wind would jettison me in every direction, then suck me underwater, only to be spewed back up to the surface choking and gasping for air. Moments later another wave would come crashing down as I clutched the dingy with all I had. I never knew if I’d re-surface each time.

In a matter of short months from my initial diagnosis in 2014, my sense of self had fallen into an abyss so deep I didn’t know at that time how long it would be before there was a glimpse of the bottom.

Facing the reality of who I was becoming

My strength in coping with life’s challenges came from being able to exercise, escape in the solitude of the outdoors, focus on sporting competitions, submerging myself in my artwork, or perhaps blissfully dancing the night away.

However, since my disabilities and illness had become so high and increased so fast, I was left without the ability to do any of these things. I was left unarmed, powerless to cope, to help heal myself, and find any solace whatsoever for my broken heart, body, and grievous health.

I was already facing a grisly prognosis so when would the fall into the abyss stop? I needed a starting point. It was suggested I take inventory of my character traits as a person which was very separate from my identity. This was a really hard concept for me to grasp. 

I had attached all of my skills, my career, what I did as a person, my activities, hobbies I adored as my identity and sense of self.

A new flower blooms

I had to find a new flower to connect my vision of self with. This time I chose a peony, which was perfect as I am enamored with pink. I felt that peonies have soft gentle souls, are humbly radiant, and have the potential to grow quite large. 

Their scent is fragile, yet lovely. I had a goal. Admittedly, my goal is a constant work in progress due to the ever-advancing disease.

Suffice to say, the process of picking up the pieces of myself has been more than arduous, like a peony so out of place in a rocky desert - without rain or nourishing soil. Thank goodness for sunshine to provide a beacon of light!

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