Thursday, 30 November 2017

Edge-Dwelling: The Liminality of Illness

My life is full of liminality because it is full of contradictions. 

I have an illness that makes me live a kind of half-life, inside and outside society, part of and apart from the world at the same time. 

I am dependent on family and welfare, and therefore not a ‘genuine’ (i.e. employed and taxpaying) adult; while illness stole away part of my childhood, meaning I am trapped somewhere in-between childhood and adulthood. 

I’ve often felt innocent and naïve, yet also old and wise before my time. 

I am introverted and introspective, but also, at times, desirous of expressing myself in extroverted and uninhibited ways.

I am free to do what I want in the sense that I do not have a job or other responsibilities; at the same time I am held captive by circumstances, and can do very little. 

I prefer to stay at home where I feel safe and secure, but I also have a desire to escape to places far, far away. 

I love my home for being my refuge, but sometimes hate it for being my prison. 

I am quiet on the outside, but my interior has often boiled with passions. 

I enjoy and require solitude, but can also feel desperately lonely; I sometimes yearn for company and relationships, while at other times I find people smothering. 

My moods shift regularly from calmness to storminess, happiness to depression, enthusiasm to apathy. 

I am a creature of inner and outer worlds, the underworld and the topside world. 

My life is a mass of edges, boundaries and contradictions.       

(Adapted from a draft of my ‘life story’ that I wrote in 2013.)


  1. ((Hugs)) It is very hard to live in this culture with a chronic illness. I wish you strength and peace of mind. <3

    1. Thank you, Sarah. It is very difficult, but I'm sure there is a way to walk the boundaries, bridge the divide. I'm not going to stop looking for it.

  2. oh, you are not alone...

    and I do understand the sense of being a mass of contradictions! I think that is inherent in being liminal...

    I have found some surprising silver linings in living with chronic pain/weakness, one of which is the insight it gives me into pain allows me to help others better when teaching yoga or doing reiki. another is patience. and a third is, simply, time. not working umpteen hours a week and being at home mostly allows me to really live life deeply, with presence and attention. I get to be at home for more than hurried showers, tired dinners, and a few hours of sleep... I am fortunate in some ways that others, so busy working and doing, may not even realize.

    maybe, in some ways, a "half-life" can be more fully lived than some "full" lives?

    wishing you more good days.

    1. Yes, I agree. There are gifts that come with illness/disability, including the ability to see just how fast everyone else is living, and how unhealthy (and just plain silly) it is. It's not pleasant being unwell; but part of me doesn't want to be well if I have to live a 'normal' life (as I think that kind of life is a big part of the problem). So I think perhaps a 'half-life' can be lived more fully, in some ways—though I'm yet to work out exactly how. But treading the edges, and finding ways to work through contradiction, paradox, and to dance between the opposites, is part of the way, I am sure. Thank you.

  3. I love that you are able to be present here, and share your art, thoughts, and challenges with us in a vulnerable way. I recognize your courage and generosity.

    1. Thank you so much. I am always unsure about posting such personal things—yet the response I get usually tells me that it is the right thing to do. People seem to appreciate honesty; and while I don't want to seem morbid or pessimistic, I think it is important to tell the truth about the realities of illness. I am doing the best I can at this point in time, and am glad that others are sharing my bumpy journey.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love hearing from you.