Until you came into my life I was happy and felt I was on top of the world.

I could see clearly, but you cloud my sight.

I could sing, but you silence my voice.

I could run, but you will no longer allow me the pleasure.

I could think clearly, but you affect my mind.

How I wish that I could leave you, so that I could again be whole,

But that is not your wish, nor do I have a choice.

I feel as if I am a shell of my old self.

I used to be so strong, but now my muscles are weak.

I used to be vibrant and alive, but now I mostly sleep.

You remember me as the life of the party,

But I now seem reclusive.

When I don’t conform to your demands on my life,

You inflict pain, but the limitations you impose upon me constantly change.

It’s taken me time to accept this new life.

Instead of fighting the many changes, I am learning coping skills.

I try to adjust to meet your needs.

When I tire, I rest.

When my vision is cloudy, I close my eyes.

When my voice is silent, I listen.

When my memory fails me, I forgive myself.

I pray that I can find a solution to all of this, but if that is not god’s will, I pray that he will comfort me.

If you were my spouse, my lover, my friend, I could choose to leave you, but you are my chronic and progressive illness named Sjögren’s, and we are partners for life.

You require my respect and, in return for that, I may get brief moments of my old self

Or at least a few moments being the best that I can now be.

                • Annette Winward
              • Northern Virginia