Catch Up Mondays – For all the women with EI – You are stronger than you know

I originally posted this on October 6, 2012.  While this poem was written for and about women, my poem could easily be made to fit men as well.  There are men who are also suffering from environmental illness (chemical sensitivity, multiple chemical sensitivity, or whatever term they have chosen to use).  They also suffer many losses and insecurities as well.  So please let me also dedicate this to all those suffering whether male or female.  I have had folks tell me I don’t think I could do what you are doing.  I think they would be surprised to find out how strong they really are when presented with some of the same circumstances.  We are all stronger than we think or could even imagine.  I chose not to give in but to fight the battles.  It wasn’t always easy but I just couldn’t give up.

I spent nearly all of 2003 in Dallas, TX treating at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas for my environmental illnesses, having a hysterectomy and flying back home to California long enough to have sinus surgery (the reason I came home instead of staying in Dallas is a story for another time).

I posted an excerpt of “Who Am I?” on May 10, 2012.  This was written about me.  Prior to this I wrote a poem entitled “Who Are We?” as a tribute to all the women I had become friends with while in Dallas; women suffering like I was.  There are many men with environmental illness but because I was surrounded by mostly women who were sick the poem was about us.  I only know the female perspective on this illness and cannot comment on how the men feel or to explain what it is like for them to lose what they feel defines them as men.

WHO ARE WE?

Who Are We?

We are the women of environmental illness

stripped of our “identities”

The ones who no longer feel

so “feminine:

Who Are We?

We are the women who

feel older than our years

We were the caretakers of

our families

Our families are now

our caretakers

Who Are We?

We are the women whose faces

are bare, lashless eyes, pale

cheeks and colorless lips

Gray streaks of hair now replace

what was once a radiant

glow of color

Who Are We?

We are the women whose

bodies have been ravaged

We have lost our food, our

electricity, our vitamins and

our organs

We are the women who are

thin and frail

Who Are We?

We are the women who

struggle each and every day

We endure being poked with

needles, baking in a sauna

and countless physiological

and neurological reactions

Who Are We?

We are the women who walk

around behind masks of charcoal

Our smiles and frowns and lovely

lips hidden to the world

We are the women who secretly

cry out in the darkness of our

empty rooms – yearning

for the life we once had

Who Are We?

We are the women who are

stronger than we could ever

imagine ourselves to be

The Women who daily stare

adversity in the face

The Women who have revealed

our true selves to the public

Who Are We?

We are the women who have

given up our identities in

return for new ones

Gone are our contacts, hair color

and make up

Gone are our dressing in trend and

latest fashion-dos

Who Are We?

We are the women who

will survive

The women unafraid of

unmasking our true selves

We are the women who can

say, “This is the real me!”

Who Are We?

We are not the make-up, the

clothes or the hairstyles

We refuse to be measured

by fashion or trend

We are women

and we will fight to

the bitter end?

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4 responses to “Catch Up Mondays – For all the women with EI – You are stronger than you know

  1. Powerful words — thank you. 🙂

  2. Thank you, Kathryn. I’m here via Indies Unlimited.

    “We refuse to be measured
    by fashion or trend”

    Bravo!

    If only film makers would embrace this concept. I note that at least some BBC dramas tend to select actors that look like ordinary people rather than superstars.

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