No matter who we are or how old we get, I truly believe that we will always find ourselves in situations when more than one issue will come along to test us and challenge us to the core… and even come close to breaking us… That is, as they say, just life.
It’s extra hard when more than ONE thing comes along and starts piling up on us. Sometimes it makes me long for the times when I had just one major issue a day to contend with, when its just the coping with pain and disability… but that rarely happens these days. We seem to be living in very complex and demanding times with a lot of things happening and not a lot of control about what and when it happens.
When you are sick or struggling, even the smallest thing can feel like a major battle. Small things like walking, moving, showering requires a great amount of endurance on a physically compromised body, but when you add some emotional issues, life events, personal dramas and conflicts to the mix, it can feel like we are tiny little boats being tossed around and battered upon dark and stormy waters. Which ever way we look it can feel truly overwhelming. It can feel like we could start drowning any minute.
No matter how much I try to design a life where I minimize opportunities for conflict and ‘drama’ there are ALWAYS times that will come along and throw me back on the wild seas again. These times find me no matter how much I try and hide.
I thought living as a virtual recluse and confined to my home home for most of my time would surely guarantee that I would have very little trouble from the outside world… It doesn’t.
Besides the normal difficult days when more than one symptom or illness might be ‘flaring’, there are times when I have been physically challenged AND something else will come along to increase the pressure and demands on my emotional, physical and mental resources. I am sure everyone reading this will have personal knowledge of what I am talking about… It’s not easy and it never, ever seems fair.
It can be events like something breaking down, financial struggles, sick pets and loved ones, a friend going through struggles or even personal conflicts with others… they all can effect us profoundly and even impact on our health in very real ways; making survival so much harder. I have to say that no matter how many times it happens, it always feels like the first time all over again. I sometimes question whether I get better and better at dealing with these periods or do I simply learn how to become more resilient when I am recovering from them… I tend to think the latter.
I am sure we have all read the same self help books, done the same relaxation exercises, listened to the same soothing music and even studied things like ‘bio / cognitive feedback’… but do they actually make a lot of difference when dozens of things are happening and making demands on us? All at the same time? I am not so sure they do.
You see if our lives where a straight line of going from strength to strength, when it came to coping, we wouldn’t find ourselves repeating the same mistakes or being hurt in new and painful ways. We wouldn’t feel lost. We wouldn’t feel like we want to run away and hide… but we don’t learn like that, because life doesn’t teach like that, and nothing is ever predictable once you reach adulthood. I have to remind myself to stop being too hard on myself when these testing times come along. We aren’t always able to fix and solve everything, perhaps we shouldn’t even be trying. Perhaps we should focus more on coping with the chaos and enduring it rather than fixing it all?
When I was in the project world, an essential ingredient to a successful outcome were resources. Financial, intellectual, material, human and emotional resources. The same can be said when we face life events, and especially a ‘storm’ of events. Often we need to check and monitor our resources as we go through it. I now ask myself if I need help and what type of help do I need? In that instance I have to fight the urge to go through it all on my own without needing to call upon assistance. At this stage of my life I realise that this is not always the best plan for success.
Recently I was reminded the true benefits of ‘sharing’ the load; in particularly the emotional one. You see, people can be the source of conflict and pain but can also provide us with the inspiration and empathy we need when it is most needed… like a burst of wind to a drifting sail ship. It is the ultimate irony. As I get older I like to think I have a stronger idea of who those people are and how to recognize them.
I was raised to believe that asking for help was a sign of weakness, nowadays I see it more as a sign of our humanity. AND I have learning how to say “I need a break… this is too much!” Sometimes we cant always have things wrapped up and resolved as quickly as we would like them, but if these diseases have taught me anything it is that each thing has its own time requirements and demands. We don’t get to control everything as much as we would like to be able to control something about our lives!
When I cant rely on or control my body and what it does, I try very, very hard to try and control some things in life. It becomes almost vitally important to me that I am more than a ship lost at see and without the ability to control what happens to me. I still want this more than anything, I have fought long and hard for it… but I am starting to wonder how that is possible.
Life is always going to be a combination of chance, choices, chaos and science etc. I have been preparing myself for the fact that happiness will come down to how I believe I cope with these things and how much I make happiness a part of my attitude to these uncontrollable things. This is something I think I can work on. This is something I think I might be able to master… and this is something I am going to keep trying to do, no matter what.