My Dear, You Are a Phoenix

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

Since I was diagnosed with MS, I always keep this one brilliant lyric from an Ani DiFranco song in the back of my mind.

She sings, “God help you if you are an ugly girl, course, too pretty is also your doom. ‘Cuz everyone harbors a secret hatred, for the prettiest girl in the room. And God help you if you are a Phoenix, and you dare to rise up from the ash. A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy, while you were just flying past.”

The other day, as I was watching two grown men on the parkway engage in what can only be described as a bout of road rage, I thought about the lyrics to this song. We were all sitting in traffic, and no one was getting much further than anyone else. However, both of these men were so angry you could see it in their necks. That’s pride. How dare you cut ME off! Do you know who I am? I said a prayer for them, while I was just flying past.

Another instance where this particular lyric came to mind was shortly after my diagnosis. After learning that I had MS, my family lost half of our income, but I lost half of what woke me up every morning and lit a fire inside me, half of my calling and all of my vocation. We even lost our home. We prayed together and tried so hard to BELIEVE with all of our hearts that we’d be okay despite what people would put in our ears. We flew past all of the naysayers.

I believe that all along my MS journey, God gave us signs. Because of that, we stayed close to our faith and remembered these were just material things we were losing, which was nothing in comparison to what I’d be losing as the years added up. I only needed wings to fly, not my legs.

It’s tough when you’re raised to believe that accomplishments by way of school, degrees, careers and money are what define you and then suddenly it’s gone. I felt like a nobody. But nobodies don’t fly!

But at the end of the day, losing a house wasn’t something that I mourned. The idea in itself showed me how stuck some people were in the material and how much we’d risen as a family because of MS. MS taught us we didn’t give a flying fig about comparing houses, and we weren’t trapped by such things. THAT was why we were able to be so light, so free. It enabled us to fly and rise above.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to talk about so-and-so who posted an “inappropriate” picture on FB or spend my days being mad about sitting in traffic. I don’t want to be mad at all! I want to be present with my family and friends while I can still talk on my own and move without technology. And while we’re flying, my soul purpose is steering my family above and beyond my MS limitations, while allowing them to grow into who they were meant to be, without limitations. I don’t want my MS to stifle them. So far, I’d say we’ve proven we can do anything together, we’re still flying.

The best advice I can say to you about learning to live with MS is that at the end of the day, you’re special. You are a Phoenix, risen from the ashes of this disease. Let that lead you in how you react. Remember to fly above the negative energy and all of the “stuff“ that simply clutters your life. Every day that I wake up feeling great, I remember to write that “today is the day I will show them my feathers.“

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