A couple of things that come with being sick long term is that you become extremely good at knowing how your body functions (or doesn’t) and you become extremely good at thinking. You have a lot of time for asking the big questions and a lot of time to probe some of the bigger issues.
One that kept coming up repeatedly for me, with each new flare, with each new diagnosis, with each new specialist, was “why me?”
I defy anyone in these situations to say that they haven’t asked this question themselves at least a thousand times, maybe more if you’re being completely honest. I ask this too and I don’t think I am unique. We all like to think we are getting better at knowing what’s going on the longer we are sick and we are always trying to reach a state of peace and tranquility within our illnesses so that life doesn’t hurt us all the time; physically and emotionally.
I started to ask myself “what does a truly self aware person think they deserve?…”
It began a series of more and more questions.
We all like to build a picture in our minds of what we deserve from a job, a career, a friendship, a relationship, a marriage, our families, our bodies, our health, and life in general based on how we think we behave, act, look, etc
If I am a good person, I should expect good things from life in return? Shouldn’t I?
So a self aware person may accept that there might be no perfect marriage or relationships, and come to terms that happiness will depend on the work and commitment that two people are prepared to put into building a strong and stable life… And we allow for the odd disagreement, upset, shortcoming, imperfection and trouble from time to time as long as we can truly say that we feel happy and valued almost all of the time.
A self aware person will realise that this world is getting faster and faster paced and that what we deserve in the workplace rarely meets with many of our expectations these days. These days it is the work place that sets it’s monetary considerations above those of it’s employees real worth or value, and we therefore may have to accept that our talents, skills and abilities may be very easily replaced if it is deemed financially advantageous. I am reminded of an elderly mentor who told me early in life “… don’t ever take work personally… there is a monetary reason behind EVERYTHING a business does… ” I remembered that and it served me well for the remainder of my career. SO. What we deserve from our jobs and careers may never truly be met. A self aware person will find a way to accept that and find meaning in the fact that we are doing our best to provide financial stability for ourselves and those depending on us, and take away a sense of self pride from doing just that.
We sometimes encounter a sense of disappointment and sadness if we imagine that we deserve a different experience from our family members than what we get. Many picture this perfect family unit like those in the movies and on TV, but after a few decades of living we begin to realise that the nuclear family is more dysfunctional than functional and there are more families who struggle maintaining bonds and closeness than those that are ‘picture perfect’. Often we form stronger friendship bonds than family bonds in our lifetimes. A self aware person will probably accept that while we probably thought we deserved that family bond and loyalty, the realities of life means that we do our best to accept the family we were born with and we cherish the friendships we make along the way. Families are not perfect. We are not perfect. Sometimes we find the love and loyalty in the people we meet along the way… everyone gets the same chances and opportunities. Maybe that is just life too? A truly self aware person comes to terms with that too.
(Obviously I am not condoning abusive family situations and environments, but I am also aware that they are more common than many people may wish to believe; sadly. Sometimes it takes the rest of our lives to address the damage done by a painful childhood. Its not fair, but sadly it is one of the terrible realities of human beings.)
A self aware person may also be prepared to accept that there are no such things as perfect partners or perfect marriages. We look for that person that we can work with, that we can build a life with, that we can grow with, that understands us, that brings balance to us, that we can love and respect. Always remembering that there will always be times that will test you both and either bring you closer together or move you further apart. Is this fair? I have to say that I believe it is. Even though I have had more failed relationships than successful ones, I think that is also what makes me appreciate the ones that lasted and flourished. I didn’t enjoy that I had to endure many heartbreaks to learn this. But that’s the price to be paid. Do we deserve relationships that are abusive or harmful? NO. NEVER. No matter what mistakes we might have made in life. But we will have to work hard and make important choices to help build a functional and healthy relationship. Sometimes that is also what makes it so rewarding. Don’t you think?
Now. The big question. The million dollar question. The one that no matter how many times I ask it, it keeps bringing up more feelings than solid answers.
Do I deserve this pain, this suffering and these health problems? I mean in the bigger sense… Did I do something? Say something? … Was it that night back in the 80s? Did I not eat enough kelp growing up? Did I forget to take the full course of antibiotics when I was busy working? Did I work too hard for too long? … and on and on it goes… Did I deserve these incurable, painful, progressive, life changing and awful diseases?
If I had been kinder, better, nicer, smarter, prettier, stronger, richer, etc … would I have been spared from all this?
People like simple answers to these life questions and so did I. In many ways there are still parts of me that would like to answer this on a karmic level but that is also where I find some of my most contradictions too.
Since I don’t know, and may never know, what caused these things on the cellular and biological level, I know that I am certainly not alone in that. Millions of medical researchers all over the world have devoted their lives to the question of “why do Autoimmune diseases exist?…”, well I am sure I don’t have to explain to you, but alas they still don’t know (Anyone who tells you anything differently is trying to sell you something).
And if all these medical scientists still don’t know how and if they will progress, or how to cure them, then I am happy to admit that I don’t know the biological answers and that also makes me find a peace in the fact that no one knows.
There is a lot I don’t know about the universe and people and I am getting better at accepting this. Is it fair that I don’t have all the answers. YES. I think it is. Do I deserve not to know. I believe that the answer to that is … ‘I deserve it just as much as anyone else alive’.
Did I do something? Fail to do something? Forget to do something? Do something so bad and awful that I deserve all these diseases, all this pain, all this uncertainty and all this unpredictability for the rest of my life? A self aware, wise, experienced and realistic person will have to answer NO. I didn’t. And neither did anyone else who has these illnesses. Or anyone else that has ever had a disease or illness… It just the luck of the draw (or the statistical odds).
Just as there are many different ways to live, to learn, to experience and to grow, there are also just as many ways to suffer, to get health issues, to struggle and to die. That is the ultimate truth of life. Do we deserve the hand we are dealt. No, not always. But it is also as pointless as asking if we deserve to be alive at all? I mean, we didn’t ask for that either!
Looking back I know there are many bad things in my life that I didn’t deserve to have happen, but there are also lots of wonderful moments that I never imagined possible either. There are times that I have made mistakes, and times I have done good too. I, personally, no longer believe in Karma and a cosmic balancing of the scales, but I DO believe that no matter where we are in life that there is still a lot of possibilities ahead of us and a peace in the unknown. The real ability to make a peace with not knowing what is going to happen is a skill and it can be a path which leads to confidence and self belief.
What I deserve ultimately doesn’t depend on what life has given to me or done to me, but what I think of who I am and what I think I can become. I want to be happy and at peace, no matter what happens in life… and that’s what I think I truly deserve.
And so do you.