Dear Editor: (Author’s Note) May 12th is awareness day for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. Both of these illnesses are a thief of dreams. With different degrees of severity and numerous debilitating symptoms, either can leave the recipient – bed bound or house bound. If you know anyone who has one of these life altering illnesses, make a phone call, send a card, just let them know you care. I dedicate this to each of you living a daily battle within yourself. In this, you’re not alone. A Path Of Emotional Growth So many of us have lost our place in society, due to illness. It’s a fact that we feel left out, are out of touch, and isolated. We may even find we can’t keep up with the lives of family or friends. We miss many daily events, leading us down a path of fewer and fewer invitations – thus leading us to more emotional pain. We lose touch with current affairs, what’s going on in our own community and the world around us. When communicating with others we may feel, untethered, as if we no longer connect, or fit in. Many times we feel trapped in illness, trapped in our body, and trapped in a world which we can’t participant in. Living far from where others roam, going to movies, taking trips, going out with friends, etc., while others seek and find new friends, go on to collage, new careers, move to a new home, another city – all because they choose to do so. We may not have the ability to make such choices. Many times our type of illness becomes the decision maker for when, where, and what we do. This certainly is a difficult path and not easily traveled. We may feel a heightened sense of emotions such as anxiety, being on edge, tearfulness, or restlessness while living with the lack of the quiet peacefulness that we once knew. Only those of us who live in this type of world can relate to the loneliness and isolation of it all. This affects us, mind and body. Living this way is not weakness – quite the opposite. It’s sheer, true bravery held together by an unending courage. The people who’ve lived a life of chronic illness or shared a similar path are those we seem to connect with. Due to illness, we learn new ways to exist, creative ways to live. In this different type of life, we grow emotionally due to our many challenges. If a person doesn’t have this type of experience, they typically stay the same on their emotional path. The truth is, although adversity is not a road we would have chosen, it is one of growing – emotionally and spiritually. Your light shines even in the darkness, so cling to that truth. You’re a true warrior on this journey, that is chronic illness. Know that in this, you’re not alone – for many extraordinary people are walking this same bold path.