Deciding to be a Warrior not the Victim

By Jana

June 15, 2023


Wallowing is what I would call it. I spent my days wallowing. Going through the motions, fending off fear, confusion and loneliness…and wallowing. I went to bed fearful that I may not wake up and I woke up dreading the day. Stumbling through the motions of a life colored by suffering. I felt victimized. Angry at the world, angry at the doctors who misdiagnosed me, angry at the American “medical community” that neglected me. I had yet to decide to be a warrior, not a victim.

Lyme disease is a cruel disease and I allowed it to victimize me. When it reared it’s ugly head with some new torturous symptom I curled up in a ball and hid, shivering and afraid. Like a dog that has been mistreated, I quivered and recoiled at every loud noise or sharp pain. This is how I spent the first three to six months of my treatment. Victimized. Until I decided to be the warrior, not the victim.

The trap of being a victim

The problem with allowing yourself to be the victim is that you never grow from the experience. There is no opportunity for personal enlightenment if you spend your days cowered in the corner waiting for the next blow to land. It is also really difficult to heal when you’re too afraid to stand up and fight. Being the victim allows the disease to control you, instead of you controlling it. For me, at least, it forced me into a sense of submission. This disease is going to beat me up and tear me apart and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’m just going to crawl through each day and hope for the best.

That is how I felt. I see now how unhealthy that was. There was no sense of power, only defeat. It took a mundane yet powerful moment of awe for me to snap out of this mindset.

The a-ha moment

One morning leaving the bathroom was that eye-opening, a-ha moment for me. I had done my morning routine…potty, rinse my face, brush my teeth…and upon finishing this rote exercise I caught a glimpse of myself as I turned out the light. What I saw was a woman afraid to look at herself. I could only sneak a peek at her in the mirror as the light went dim, shadowed by a glow sneaking in from the hallway. It was a downward glance, out of the corner of my eye, full of unease. That was the moment I realized the victim I had allowed myself to become. So, I flipped the light back on and stepped in front of the mirror.

I got close and really looked at myself for the first time in weeks, possibly months. What I saw scared me at first. I didn’t recognize the person staring back at me. She looked hollow, sallow and grey. Her skin was covered in a strange bumpy rash and underneath it was taught and wrinkly. She looked like she had aged a decade in months. My heart sank for that woman. It ached for the soul that was fighting so hard to survive. A sense of pity for myself veiled my vision with shades of purple.

Gazing back at what appeared to be a husk of a being, I forced myself to look deeper. To look beyond the fear and snap back from my recoiled position of victim-hood. What I saw was a warrior, fighting day in and day out, to kick the shit out of Lyme disease. I was determined. I was strong. After that moment, I vowed to embrace the warrior in me and fight.

A transition form victim-hood to warrior

That morning, for the first time in months, I stared into my hazel eyes and saw the color in them. I saw a flickering light of life begging to be recognized. In that moment, I quietly spoke to my soul. I said, “Hello Jana, I see you and you’re beautiful. You’re struggling so hard and I honor you. I am in awe of your strength and determination. Your tenacity is inspiring.” I promised then and there, staring deep into my own hazel eyes, to love myself and be kind to myself.

Don’t think that from that day onward everything was peachy keen and I woke up with a smile, eager to suit up for battle. It was still a treacherous journey and I stumbled. There were still days when I wasn’t sure I could keep fighting. Months passed, particularly during Samento and Banderol, when I lost myself in the fog and confusion. Feelings of loss and loneliness could still sweep me away from time to time, but now I had a lifeline. For the first time, I was tethered to myself. A body and a soul fighting together to conquer a terrible beast. Together, we fought.

Deciding to be a warrior not the victim

I’m certain that this will be different for everyone but this is how I managed. I literally pictured myself as a warrior, covered in armor, carrying a shield and donning a cape. I remember taking hot Epsom baths and commanding the Lyme spirochetes to leave my body. Imagining them dying and flushing them out through my pores, I felt like I had power over them. Bath time became my greatest battle field. As the sweat beaded up on my brow I knew this was my greatest weapon. A beautiful dichotomy that while visualizing myself donned in full body armor I lay fully naked and vulnerable. Beautiful.

In time, I began to view my battle as my job. I couldn’t waste time worrying about what the world expected of me. No bowing to pressure from those who didn’t understand suggesting I just go for a walk and shake it off. I didn’t allow myself to cower to the American ideal (however misguided it is) to pull myself up from my own bootstraps and trudge through a grind I wasn’t capable of handling. No. Instead, I listened to my body and took every day slow and calculated. I let loose those restraining, idealistic straps and fell into bed. Because bed was where I needed to be.

I was a warrior whose job was to battle Lyme disease

My job was to battle this illness and that required rest, medicine, a healthy diet and more rest. It required detox baths and meditation, staying in my pajamas all day and showering once a week (with supervision). That was my job. Sleep, eat, take pills, rest, eat, take more pills, detox, eat, take more pills and rest. It didn’t matter if I never got out of my pj’s…that was the expected attire for my current occupation. I wasn’t a victim, I was a warrior battling a horrendous illness.

Blog Posts