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  • Susan Dawn

Living with Love, Hope, Lyme

I want to share something today that is near and dear to my heart coming from an experience that was a huge catalyst for my life and even some of the work that I do here.

As some of you know, in 2012 I was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease and multiple co-infections. I don't go deep into bringing up this part of my life because there has been so much healing around it, but I don't shy away from sharing it, either, as so much of what I experienced and learned becomes pertinent to the greater context of a life and the soul's journey.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lyme advocate Fred Diamond for the Love, Hope, Lyme Podcast to discuss Lyme disease advocacy and awareness for the emotional toll that comes with having a chronic illness. Providing support for this side of Lyme disease and other "invisible" illnesses, including the loneliness, isolation, and overall impact it has on a life, is something that drove me to create a non-profit as a place for patients and caregivers alike to know they're not alone in their experiences at a time when this aspect of living with Lyme was little-discussed. It's also something that drives my work here at Susan Dawn Spiritual Connections, as I believe in the value of community and knowing that we're not alone on our journeys.

My experiences with Lyme disease was a huge part of my life and, as such, became a huge part of my purpose. When I say that I don't want anyone to suffer or struggle as I had, I'm personally thinking of my own life experiences that really began with Lyme and which is why I always mean it with great sincerity. Lyme, for me, was a catalyst for a major part of my spiritual journey and my life. I always say Ascension is like a whole other ball game, and my own ascension journey took me deeper into the shadow of myself and the darkness of that healing, including my illness with Lyme.

I learned to advocate for myself, to stand up for myself, to save myself. I learned to forgive my doctors and their ignorance, to hold compassion for loved ones who rejected my experience, and to surrender my own pride and accept help and support. I learned to love myself and hold space for myself, and I learned to sit in the darkness without tumbling down into it myself. I crawled my way through a thousand different lessons to be where I am today--able to look back on those experiences with gratitude and knowing the learning and healing continues.

Through the years of struggling with physical illness and multiple relapses I put my own time, very limited resources, and heart into creating a safe space for the Lyme community, including writing essays, working with other organizations, giving talks to groups, and building the foundation from the ground up with numerous resources to be of benefit to others. In the end, it took a toll in that I had sacrificed my own emotional wellness because I dearly wanted to be of help for others. There's a saying that you can't heal in the same place where you're sick, and this became true for me.

This is why I am now so mindful of the work I do here with Susan Dawn Spiritual Connections. I put the same heart, the same effort, the same soul of myself into everything I do because it's who I am and I'm passionate for it. But I've also learned to value and take care of myself better in that balance. We all know you can't pour from an empty cup, and if I want to continue to help and be of service--not just the Lyme community, and not just those on a spiritual path, but in general, in greater context--I have to take that to heart.

And I have. Through this healing, I'm now better able to hold space for others, and having lived these experiences, I can empathize without sinking back into the trauma of my own journey--whether that be Lyme or this ascension.

This is what I wish for everyone and their healing--that you turn that pain into purpose and that purpose becomes aligned with passion. That you become better, that you become more of who you are and who you always wanted to be. That you don't forget yourself and how brave and strong you are just because of your experiences. Your experiences are a huge part of your life, that is undeniable, but you are not your experiences. Your experiences don't have to hold you back but can propel you forward, even if it's one small step at a time.

For almost 12 years since diagnosis and the many more years of illness before that, it was always one step at a time. One sometimes arduous step at a time to get to where I am now. One step at a time where I didn't think I could take another. One step at a time when I didn't think I wanted to. Those steps matter. They matter because you matter. Be kind, be compassionate, and be gentle with yourself. And don't ever, ever give up on yourself.

I wanted to share this message because it's on my heart. I wanted to share the podcast because it's near and dear to my heart, and it may apply to more than just the Lyme community.

Wherever you are, whatever your battle, stay strong and be brave.


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