It’s been 10 years now since I became so unwell I lost my job and the identity I had built for 37 years. Do I want that person back?
Yes. I do.
Does that mean I haven’t accepted what had happened?
I have read at least a thousand books about grief, acceptance and change and they have all made me think about what has happened and how it affects my life and future and what it all means to my personal growth and strength.
There are millions of people in similar circumstances to me. I know I am not alone, but it still doesn’t bring the level of comfort that I need when I am in deep pain and unable to do what I would like and what I once did. It doesn’t change me in that moment.
So can ever make a peace with what we have lost?..
Whilst I openly acknowledge that I have learned many things and changed a lot since these diseases, would I have chosen to acquire them this way? I don’t think I would. In fact I know I wouldn’t.
Perhaps it’s the very nature of these diseases and that we have no warning or choice about them entering our lives. Like something was taken from us…perhaps that’s why it’s harder to make a peace with many aspects of our circumstances?… Perhaps it makes acceptance much harder to achieve?
The Internet is crammed with suggestions and ideas of how to make peace with your illness/es and life change/s but it still hasn’t stopped millions of other people selling their ‘how to be cured’ books. In fact sales of ‘how to fix your disease’ far outweigh the ‘accepting your diseases’ books.
At the heart of it all we still want our old lives back and that’s what makes these cure your illness diets books and cures such a lucrative market.
So. Is peace and acceptance possible? If so, what does it look like?
Sometimes I compare my journey with this illness with the loss of my mother. She died quickly. I grieved. Years later now I am at peace with the fact that she is gone and is not coming back. I don’t go looking for books on how to bring her back. I believe I have successfully grieved the loss of my mother… But yet I still struggle with the acceptance of many of the symptoms of my diseases. Why?! Why?! Why?!
Perhaps the fact that I feel it’s like a partial death. Not a final thing. I am both alive AND grieving at the same time. Things at constantly changing and especially the world. The world is still changing at a faster rate than my acceptance and abilities.
I also don’t have to compare my deceased mother with ANOTHER mother still trying to live on at the same time.
Another thing that slows the acceptance process for me is the constantly changing nature of my diseases. I feel like I am trying to plateau and stabilize so I can adjust my expectations and acclimatize to a NORMALITY… but this is constantly changing and in flux.
Trying to reach acceptance when there is chaos and constant change is incredibly difficult and feels almost impossible.
This is probably why many counsellors encourage establishing new routines and stability to people going through traumatic events. This isn’t always possible for many with autoimmune diseases who must live moment to moment. Flare to flare. And with constant progression of symptoms and disease activity. Perhaps this makes it so much harder for us? Perhaps it makes it almost impossible to reach sometimes!
Pain is another factor that is very hard to accept. Real pain. Real gut wrenching, white knuckle, biting down pain. Knowing that your life will have to include a lot of physical pain is quite hard to accept for anyone. Like going through the death of a loved one every day of your life.
Can we ever really accept that?
No matter how many doctors I see, no matter how many times they trial a new drug, no matter how they speak to me or pretend to understand, I don’t accept that they, or anyone else who hasn’t been through these things, can ever really understand. I doubt they can accept what it must be like for people like me… And so acceptance is a very difficult concept for those dealing with chronic illness.
The fact that society has a terrible history of not accepting the chronically ill only adds insult to very serious illness! How are we ever supposed to make a peace when the rest of the world can’t accept you or how you have changed??
For now… The acceptance I seek is the acceptance I offer myself. I think I can accept that I am doing my best. I can accept that no one can imagine doing what I do and living with what I live with. I accept that I have to be kind to myself, often kinder than anyone else in my life.
I accept that I no longer need others validation or approval.
I accept that I didn’t do anything wrong to be where I am today.
I accept that I can still love and respect myself.
And I accept that I may never know what lays ahead. And that may be the only acceptance that I may ever achieve. And that’s ok for now.