This is probably the most important realization and most important blog I have written since I started blogging. It speaks volumes.
Today when I looked at the foot of the bed my darling cocker spaniel was asleep. She sleeps a lot these days and as I talked to her I said “you sleep as much as you want my angel, you are my older girl now…”
She is getting older and her body needs more rest and her body has changed. She is almost 10.
In a blinding flash I realized that I was prepared to be kind and accepting of my dogs changed needs but not my own.
As I look through support group after support group of people with painful, debilitating and chronic conditions our biggest concerns and most common complaint is that we can’t do what we used to and we either push ourselves and set off pain or a flare OR we are wracked by guilt for failing to do what we once did. Either option is painful and destructive.
If we were to visit someone sick in hospital we wouldn’t be asking them what they had done today. We wouldn’t go up and down the halls shouting “what are you people achieving?” Or “did you clean the hospital today or at least mop some floors?” No. We wouldn’t. Because we understand that they are sick and their bodies are suffering. The only difference between someone with a chronic disease and someone like them is that they will get better and leave hospital one day. We never will get better. At this point in time there is no cure for us. In fact, we may even worsen.
We are always sick and fighting to be in this world. Not in hospital, but not better. Not who we were, but not accepting the change. Worst still is that we keep feeling guilty and beating up on ourselves for not doing what we once did or being who we once were.
Whilst we can’t change the ignorance and expectations of others overnight we do owe it to ourselves to look closely at how we treat ourselves and how we think about ourselves. I know I am going to. I am going to read and re-read this as many times as I need to until I get it. Until I am more accepting of my limitations and changes. Until I am proud of the person I can achieve rather than the person I am not anymore.
I don’t need the guilt. I don’t need the blame. I don’t need the push yourself slogans that people chant over and over. I need to be happy to push my ability to adapt, grow and accept on an emotional level, not beat myself up on the physical level.
Some of the most interesting people, kindest people, caring people and cherished people are those who have found dignity in respect in their lives, and that has nothing to do with their physical health.