I was diagnosed with chronic late-stage lyme disease in 2014. It effects my ability to focus and to write. To do anything at all. Despite everything I’ve survived in my life, I’ve never faced a challenge that parallels healing from this disease. I’ve struggled to find words to explain what having chronic lyme is like to someone who doesn’t know—how I can look so normal on the outside but be dying inside. It’s a very lonely place to be. To go with this post, I wrote I love you on paper and took a photograph of my hand.

What is this thing called lyme that I can explain to no one?

As a writer with such a deep affection for metaphor, what is this disease that leaves me speechless and utterly unable to communicate what I am experiencing?

To say I have been buried alive does not even begin to express the challenge of healing from this illness.

Lyme has snatched me by the ankles and pulled me down into my own liquid-dark ocean trench, where my lungs ache for air, my skin cries for light, and the dark wall of water above is so heavy that my ribs splinter and my spine cracks and every buzzing cell in my body screams out in pain.

What is this thing called lyme that asks me, how much do you want to live? And when I answer, I’m not sure—lyme yanks my ankles and pulls me deeper into darkness. Deeper toward death.

No, I scream, but water rushes into my mouth. I change my mind, I want to live. I want to live!

I could drown before I learn these lessons. What are the lessons? Will I drown?

How can I spend one more moment sinking helplessly into the erasure of each lost day to the next? I reach for healing, I choose to heal.

I think of Ho’oponopono: I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

I speak these words to my cells. For I did abuse them and I never meant to. I was lost, I was irreverent, I hurt myself over and over without knowing any better.

Just like my abusers used to hurt me.

Oh, lyme, I hear this message. I surrender and accept and believe. Everything I do to myself matters. You are showing me a true path to loving myself in the deepest way.

I thought I was searching for something else—but it was myself I was looking for.

The weight of my dark ocean is as heavy as the wool blankets laying across me on my bed. I blink at the ceiling. How can I describe the enormous weight of moving my own arm?

The enormous weight of everything?

I’m too exhausted to cry.

And yet my body whispers, rest, my love, rest. You are learning to rest. You are learning to listen. You had stopped believing me and I have so much wisdom.

What is this thing called lyme that I can explain to no one?

It is one of the greatest teachers in my life.

And so, through the days and months and years, I will swim up from these murky black ocean trenches of pain, toward the sparkling free sunlight on the surface of my wildest dreams, and I know I am living, and I am alive, and this is the path toward the brilliant woman I will be.

The woman I always was—and already am. And I will care for you, and cherish you, and provide you with all that you need.

No matter what happens. I love you.