At the Intersection of Sjogren's Syndrome and Vulnerability

Once diagnosed with Sjogren’s and struggling with the symptoms of it, I found myself experiencing new, raw feelings of susceptibility, weakness, and oddly, feeling exposed in a way that felt uncomfortable. One glaring example of such is exemplified when I felt I was becoming a social liability for my husband and grappled with how I would share my illness with others. Hence, a new type of vulnerability invaded my life! What to do? So, I now am actively working on a theory I believe in that I am not so unique that only I have experienced this unwelcomed metamorphosis. After much thought I decided I would share in this forum how I am managing a type of personal exposure I would have otherwise attempted to flee from. In truth, and oddly enough, I am finding that being vulnerable is actually proving to be a positive, life-changing experience. Simply stated, vulnerability actually cultivates courage, if allowed.

What is vulnerability really? I define it as a controlled dynamic between persons sans the control. When you think about it, most of us run from being vulnerable due to feelings of inadequacy. We want so much for others to accept us that we put on our best face and hide any perceived inadequacies under the rug. This is part of the universal social fabric.

However, when one becomes sick and an ailment changes the very way we live our lives, we start to lose the energy needed to upkeep our social masks. We are forced to share with loved ones the truth of our lives and in doing so, we risk losing relationships for a multitude of reasons. We come face to face with the truth of our relationships with others and many of us have lost persons we perceived to be true friends or loyal and close family members. It hurts and this hurt is the glaring reminder of the vulnerability embedded in living with Sjogren’s syndrome or any other type of ailment that can be disabling.

So, how can such life-changing events cultivate courage? Here, I can only speak for myself and how I have used loss and self-exposure to cultivate a new strength in the way I live my life. After having lost many persons in my social and familial circles I simply grieved. And, the grieving was great. But, as time has passed I have made new friends and I have come to learn and accept who is strong enough, loving of me enough, to be an active part of my life. I can celebrate with an honest knowing that those who embrace me today do so with healthy and honest intentions. And, it is in the knowing of this that I have relaxed. I know I have survived emotionally what life has thrown my way. I walk today with a unique courage