By Rebecca C.
Originally published in Youth Allied By
CFIDS, Fall 1997
remember vaguely when I was in kindergarten I wanted to be like the fourth
graders. I could not imagine what their size would feel like: big boots for the
snow, arms long enough for hanging ornaments on Christmas trees and legs long
enough to really swing high at the playground. But it wasn't just the
idea of growing so big; the four years of time between me and fourth grade were
more than I could easily comprehend.
What is it with the magic number of four
and wanting to be "old"? I spent most of middle school wishing to be an older
teenager, assuming that with age would come an escape from my walls of shyness,
the ability to express myself through words and music, and friends who shared my
love for idealism, debate and real conversation. I consoled myself with the
image of myself as a happier, more confident person.
CFIDS came, and the number four has
persistently tagged along with it in my mind; as of December first, I have been
ill for four years. When first ill, I chose to wait and dream of a healthier,
Of course, it never occurred to me that
four years later I'd still be severely disabled. I didn't think I'd mind waiting
a short while to recover, but as time passed I grew impatient with only fighting
CFIDS through medical means and began exploring advocacy and the pediatric CFIDS
community. Since that evolution in my thinking, I've been so busy I haven't had
time to evaluate my four years of working around, and in spite of,
My introspection began recently, when once
again I've been worried about an intense desire to be four years older. The idea
of a healthy, college-going me is appealing, but what I want even more is to be
in my mid-twenties and to have good friends. These friends, and an active
lifestyle eventually leading to marriage, medical school and children, are the
stuff of my dreams.
In chastising myself today for not tugging
my mind back to the joys of the present moment, I realized that I've never
paused to evaluate the changes of the past four years with CFIDS. Did I ever
realize the goals I set for myself as a young adolescent? How do I measure up to
the happy person I was certain I'd become if I could reach age 18?
As I ponder these questions and think about
my 14-year-old friends struggling to develop self-esteem in the midst of living
with CFIDS, I find myself taking a huge sigh of relief. I realize that I have
made it through the rough waters of adolescence intact, and only the stories of
my young friends can send me back into that turmoil again.
It is wonderful to take in this sense that
I am safe, and yet I cannot deny feeling compelled to leave a message for the
ones who have taken my place back in that stormy, chaotic world, and also for
the girl who wondered if she'd ever grow up.
I need to "send a note" to all of the
younger persons with CFIDS out there who feel trapped in that same bizarre world
of an adolescence with CFIDS: It truly turned out all right for me.
no longer painfully shy, I smile more often than most folks I know, and I
actually figured out how to do well in science class. My friends still are
almost always either older or younger that I, but that is becoming an asset. I
now know what my career goal is and am confident that I'll achieve it by the
time I have grandchildren. When I look back at the past four years I see
numerous times when God has worked in my life through people... guiding angels
if you will.
Though I'll admit to having many
fears about my future, and am feeling more frustration with my current
limitations than I'd wish for, I am glad about who I am after my
four years with CFIDS... and I think it's safe to assume that the next four
years will be anything but dull.