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A Look At Who I've Become: Diabetes Included
When you look at me, what do you see? Do you just see the physical girl standing in front of you? Or do the emotions, the spirituality, the thoughts creep through as well?
When I look in the mirror, I see that I'm tall for a girl. I see that I have my father's blue eyes and the Guerin nose. I also see that my mother's side of the family shows through with the curve of my hips. When I look at me, I see my family staring back at me. Each part of my body comes from the genetics behind me. The resemblance in facial structure to my middle brother...the same fair skin of my mom and oldest brother...the small wrists that are present in all three siblings.
But I also see a lot more when I look at me, because I can look past the mirror and see my history and my life shine through. Not only is it the physical marks of that history, like the chicken pox scars from my 2 year old self. Or the mark on my stomach from where my brother ran into a tree in a golfcart, leaving me rolling across a concrete driveway. It's the calluses on my finger tips, the bumps of years of insulin injections, and the intensity of my other conditions on my skin.
All that history and all that life makes up a larger person though. It's beyond chicken pox; to me, it's the fact that my older brothers passed that childhood marker onto me. It isn't about the scar of the concrete; it's about the years of teasing my brother for actually running me over with the golfcart! It's also about the strength that I've built from the years of chronic conditions, an endurance to keep fighting, and the hope of a light at the end of the tunnel.
Beyond the history lies something even deeper. It's the character that comes from all those marks and markers. That strength and endurance that hold true throughout every trial in my life, like my parent's separating or losing a best friend. It's about the knowledge that mortality is never that far off. It's also about the bond between my brothers, an unspoken connection through our blue eyes, skin, wrists, and noses.
Each trait pushes against who I am every day. Those traits change my likes and dislikes, from my love of my fair skin to the fact that liking sweet cornbread runs in the blood. They mold me into a stubborn, opinionated, perceptive woman...because I had to fight to be heard among two older brothers, because I had to know when to stand up for myself and when to back down.
There are times when I haven't liked who I am, inside or out. Moments that I've made mistakes, said the wrong thing or done the wrong thing. Days where looking in the mirror seemed so much harder than it should be. But most of the time, I genuinely love who I've become. And I know that without diabetes, without the last three years of conditions, I wouldn't be this person. I wouldn't pursue things so intently. I wouldn't believe so strongly. I wouldn't feel so passionately.
But sometimes that's tough to see: when looking in the mirror takes a certain amount of courage, when running my finger tips over my own skin reminds me that those calluses may not ever go away, when I can't hide the ruthlessness of PCOS or rosacea or whatever it is with any amount of makeup. All those things make the good in me, but they also make the bad in me. From the struggle to love myself to the longing for a deeper understanding, it's all from the years of being who I am and fighting for more than this.
Today, looking in the mirror wasn't easy. But today, I also kept fighting. Because I put on the mask, built myself up, and walked out the door. Today, fighting the fatigue of a high was harder than most days. Yet I'm still awake, still going throughout my day. Because no matter what, I know that giving up is the end of all ends. So another treatment, another insulin injection, another doctor's appointment is the only way to keep living...and to eventually thrive.
Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes. (Read More)
Nicole Purcell lists having type 1 diabetes last when she's asked to provide information about herself - because that's where it belongs. (Read More)