On Not Getting Better

In 1998, a full decade after getting sick….I was not getting any better. Memory, abstract reasoning, word finding and other vital cognitive functions remained gravely problematic….

Since I could not presume that I would remember anything, I must live fully in the present. Since I could not presume that I would understand anything, I must feel and experience my life in the moment and not always press to formulate ideas about it. Since I could not escape my body and the limits it had imposed on me, I must learn to be at home in it. Since I could do so little, it was good to live in a place where there is so little to do. And since I could not presume that I would master anything I did, I must relinquish mastery as a goal and seek harmony instead….

Of this necessity had come a whole new way of being in my life. Something rich with possibility, if I only looked at it clearly enough. Something different and vital had emerged. My secret was that I had found the places within me that illness could not touch. I had learned to honor them.

-Floyd Skloot, author of In the Shadow of Memory, a memoir about his life with chronic fatigue syndrome