If I’d Never Met You

Quietly, a phantom thief, you forced yourself into my life, slowly but violently inserting your existence into mine. Uninvited, you rooted yourself into my very core and silently grew inside of me, victimizing my vulnerability and tattooing your intention on every piece of me. You suck nearly every ounce of energy out of me, while I desperately and frantically try to forge, steal, manifest any remaining vigor I can manage to grasp and tear out of your hands.
If I’d never met you, people wouldn’t tilt their heads to one side, eyes full of pity, and offer their condolences when they learn I’m sharing my life with you. I wouldn’t have to suppress memories of what I perceive my abilities once were, because they’re too painful now.
If I’d never met you, there’d be one less voice in my head telling me that I can’t, that I’m less than. I wouldn’t feel like I have to question myself and then explain my choices and my decisions. I would spring out of bed in the morning, fresh and excited for the day ahead. I wouldn’t worry about what comes next. My house would be cleaner. My social life would be more exciting. I wouldn’t have to factor in a day of recovery when trying to fix those things. I’d have more money. I’d feel more comfortable in my new skin. I wouldn’t feel like a burden.
Most of the time, I wish I’d never met you, that I could wave a magic wand and completely erase you from my memory.
But you’re here and you’re here to stay.
And if I’d never met you, I wouldn’t have the appreciation and understanding for others whose lives you’ve also infiltrated. I wouldn’t see the beauty in every moment, every image my eyes will take in, every step my feet will take.
If I’d never met you, I wouldn’t have the support system that I do. Since I’ve met you, I’ve learned how to say “no” and although I’m still learning to not always feel guilty about it, I’m closer to putting myself first without making excuses or apologies. I’ve learned to listen to the warning signals my body sends me when something is off. I wouldn’t know what I’m capable of. I wouldn’t recognize my own strength, if I’d never met you.

And for that, I thank you.
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Cat Stappas

Cat was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013 and writes about her experiences in her blog, It's Only A Bruise. She hopes to make the dark corners of the internet a little bit less scary for both the newly and the long-time diagnosed with some honesty, positivity and — sometimes — some tongue-in-cheek humor. You can read her blog here and follow her on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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  • Milly   Sep 8, 2016 1:31 PM
    I think I cried after reading one of your last posts and this one brought a tear to my eye too. Very well said!! You should seriously write a book (as I never want yourposts to end). I'm proud to call you: my fellow MS warrior. Thanks for posting this Cat!!
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    tremainemichelle  Sep 8, 2016 1:40 PM
    This hit me hard. I'm so grateful to have read this !
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    BethyC  Sep 8, 2016 3:30 PM
    Beautifully written and true true true! Thankful for your beautiful words and thankful for each day! <3
  • Sally Kuhlman   Sep 8, 2016 4:10 PM
    Cat, this blog underlines why you will always be a strong and courageous fighter against MS. MS may be an invisible disease; but you have made anyone who reads your blog very aware of how it impacts on the lives of those who deal with it on a minute-by-minute basis. You have taught us hope and faith. You continue to charge forward courageously. You come face-to-face with your MS symptoms daily. You are simply amazing. MS will never win against a fighter like you. <3 always.
  • Susan Lesperance   Sep 8, 2016 4:13 PM
    Cat, your post in MSconnection is eloquently written. No one wants to be diagnosed with MS...and you state that clearly. You then take it a step further by finding the positives you have experienced in your MS journey. You make a difference through your courage, your word and how you choose to live your life going forward. You are beautiful, remarkable, brave and more. AND...for that...I thank YOU!
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    maria1  Sep 8, 2016 5:45 PM
    I once knew a guy just like that.
  • Anna C Losey   Sep 8, 2016 6:58 PM
    Thank you for the article and especially your comments about your mom. She is great and you are truly blessed to have her. I so appreciate your blog. Keep up the good fight. We love you.
  • Samantha Smith   Sep 8, 2016 7:44 PM
    Cat, your words are so powerful! I use to be able to write like that but MS stole it. That's ok though especially when I read what you wrote. No body sees my MS as all 12 lesions are in my head! You my new friend explained what I can no longer write! Thank you for posting this! You are a survivor and this msconnection site helped me so much, just like you did! Peace, Samantha
  • Rosalie Evenson   Sep 8, 2016 7:53 PM
    How beautifully you capture and share such sensitive reactions you experience. You light a candle for everyone. Thank you. I have such a huge feeling of love & respect for you. Keep on writing.
  • Lorie   Sep 8, 2016 9:56 PM
    Thank you for this. You have put into words part of this new world of mine. It is such a comfort to discover that others share in the struggles I always thought were uniquely defective in me. Wow, just wow.
  • Leanne S.   Sep 9, 2016 1:58 AM
    Wow! You totally said everything that I feel! I've spent 25+ years with the same rude and uninvited guest that you so perfectly wrote about! Thank you for saying it perfectly!
  • Jacquie   Sep 9, 2016 8:08 AM
    well said! :) and beautifully written :)
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    xjahr  Sep 9, 2016 2:58 PM
    It's like you're in my head.
  • Gill Brain   Sep 10, 2016 2:44 AM
    You've managed to say it all! Without the MS head fog that hits me when I try to explain to anyone!! Well done.
  • aine   Sep 10, 2016 12:38 PM
    Every word, sentiment cut me to the quick in a moment of clarity & insanity you made this ms world that so many wander in yet so few delve feel real raw honesty & I thank you for that I truly do. Aine x
  • Pam   Sep 10, 2016 5:54 PM
    thank you for sharing, what so many feel, but can't put into words. Looking forward to more of your thoughts and feelings this is a hard road for many, and I appreciate you speaking out.
  • shikhasharma  Sep 12, 2016 6:21 AM
    I admire the valuable advice you make available in your expertly written content. I want to thank you for this informative read; I really appreciate sharing this great.
  • hipgirlcolo  Sep 24, 2016 3:29 PM
    Wow. I've only been diagnosed for 3 weeks (after losing my legs one morning) but I felt every word you wrote. As you said, I wouldn't recognize my own strength without this. Thank you.
  • Kevin Keplinger   Sep 25, 2016 3:17 PM
    Nice article,
    Just wondering if you've heard of HSCT. If not, here's a video by Nadine Shapiro that explains it. Best wishes. www.vimeo.com/130065935
  • Kristy   Sep 29, 2016 12:48 PM
    I was diagnosed w/MS on Aug. 1st so this is all so new and TERRIFYING to me! I am not exactly sure what made me read this but, I am so glad I did because, this could be my story too. Thank You
  • Arlene   Sep 29, 2016 2:19 PM
    This disease could be described as an inactive volcano that suddenly goes crazy. At first it sits there blowing just enough smoke to be irritating. And I feel safe during these times. When the main eruption begins I want to flee and get off this island. There is no place to escape tp. I have to watch while the hot lava flows wherever it wants to in my body. I never know how high it is going to flow or what damage it will do. I never know if flowers will be able to grow again in those damaged spots or if trees will grow again there's?to protect me from the painful burn of the sun. Will fruit trees grow on this barren land so that I can pass something on to others? The lava that flows scares me. I don't know what areas to protect. The burns caused are so painful and the healing is very slow. The losses caused by the burns may never be replaced. But when the healing comes it feels good. At first I was very disappointed that the burns weren't healed in a way that returned me to me. I have been very angry over having no control over the lava flow. This volcano even causes some of my friends to flee island when it becomes active. But for the friends who stay we share the burn and sooth each other. It is when we feel the. Pain and the healing together that it is really alright inside.
    Found this in 1991. Never thought I would ever read something as emotional. So thank you
  • Sarah   Sep 30, 2016 2:06 PM
    Cat, once again you write beautifully about how much this uninvited guest has taken, but also given. I feel the same way. Thank you for sharing so clearly what most people just don't understand. Keep it up!
  • Lynn klaus   Oct 1, 2016 7:59 PM
    Thank you for hitting the nail on the head. . . Wait what was I talking about? Yes, that is how I feel!!!
  • Jennifer   Oct 3, 2016 2:32 PM
    Beautifully written in a way that compels me to want to read more of your take on this weird disease. I was diagnosed twelve years ago and am just now starting to feel it. I've been very lucky.
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    JenniferAileen  Nov 5, 2016 1:25 PM
  • Vickie Lee   Feb 28, 2017 1:02 PM
    I'm so grateful to read this post! Thank you for your beautiful words and encouragement! 😎
  • Chris   Mar 28, 2017 3:49 PM
    Well said and so true Cat.
    M.S. has become my roommate from hell but I try to live by these words" You will get tired of knocking me down, before I get tired of getting up."