If only there was a formula that worked for everyone and one which could see us through every difficult moment and painful time. But we are all so different that I really don’t know if one exists, or could exist.
What helps me may not mean much to the next person, and so on, but I thought it might be helpful to break things down in this short piece. Hopefully it may help.
I get lots of private messages from beautiful readers who tell me I am inspirational and brave but if you believe nothing else that I write please believe this I don’t feel inspirational and brave. Ever. I feel quite the opposite most days.
Getting through some days is really a matter of feeling as though I have no choice so I must simply go on. When I call out to my husband for assistance to move or shower, or whatever it is, I feel both incredibly grateful and incredibly guilty at exactly the same time. It’s a constant battle of the two. I try not to ask too much of him without lingering too long without assistance. And that is the way each day goes. A delicate balance of the two.
The fact is that it isn’t until I open my eyes each day that I can assess whether this is going to be a very difficult day or one that can afford me some extra abilities (like drawing or a short drive). I assume many of you may do the same. I can never know for sure.
In 2019 Australia will introduce euthanasia laws allowing people without any quality of life to make the choice to end their suffering. I personally support this law and see it as a law of dignity and respect, but I don’t assume everyone agrees. For me it means that should I ever deteriorate to a level where there is constant pain and no ability to enjoy life on any level then I will be able to make the choice of whether or not I will go on. At this time I don’t have that luxury or necessity, so I continue as best I can.
Finding reasons to go on can be so varying and so personal that there is almost no one answer, however I can only speak for myself when I say that love has a great deal to do with it.
I used to think going on required love from many sources and validation from many sources but I have learned that this is far from the truth and I had misused my time and energy trying to find strength in these ways. Today I realize that love can be as simple as a healthy self love and validation can come from within, and should.
Ironically as my relationships and connections outside my home dwindled my emotions somehow became calmer and much more stronger. My belief system strengthened. I don’t look for others to validate my life or existence and it is very empowering indeed.
I recall the peace and calm my grandparents exuded from their little homes and their seemingly smaller lives. It surprises me now that I was looking at back then I was looking at some of the answers that I spent many years searching for and didn’t even know it.
The simple act of being in my garden and smelling flowers can make the losses of yesterday seem much less important. Watching my pets play can bring much more joy than I have known in many other environments. Simplicity is the key to much of my current happiness and is far more lasting.
The ability to let go of yesterday is also a major part of coping. If yesterday was a bad day I have to be prepared to let it go and release it. Even dwelling on times when I could do more is a dangerous place to go. It is the past and that is where it let it live. I try to focus on this moment and this moment alone. Doing whatever I can and all that I can in this moment is all that I can care about and often allows me to feel clearer in my mind.
Pushing myself means that I ask myself what I can do and can try to do now and not what I could do in the past.
I also find great peace and power from being completely authentic and speaking my truth; Regardless of what people may choose to think or react. This has been a huge part of the strength needed to go on. It also means that I have the ability to let my thoughts and feelings be heard and spoken. Too much pain and suffering has been caused by me holding on to my beliefs and feelings in the past. Those who are in my life now are truly aware of where I stand and how I feel. I believe suppressing ourselves or silencing our inner thoughts is too great a waste of time and energy. Much better to let it out and live in your reality and truth. No matter what others think or say.
I have long been aware that material things and titles are meaningless. Perhaps as a result of life being reduced to painful degrees and abilities, nowadays nothing someone can possess or claim to know means anything to me; I am neither impressed or envious of assets and achievements. Perhaps I should be? I don’t know. All I know is that I feel much more impressed by a persons character and depth than any other part of their lives and I focus on the same for myself. The ability to express yourself and be yourself is a huge part of coping. Character is all we have and all we will take with us.
Each day I try to think of something that I would like to plan for tomorrow, regardless of how small. For example planting a rose in a corner of my garden will give me something to look forward to. It’s these little things that give me some inspiration to keep going, despite the painful realities of life, they are vital to me. I make smaller and more achievable goals for myself that make me focus on them from day to day.
It is a sad fact but I can no longer remember a day that wasn’t filled by pain or physical challenges. Looking back to when that wasn’t the case is futile and emotionally dangerous. But trying to plan how I could do something within the limitations I have is now the inspiration to go on. For example, my husband had a birthday and I got to research, find and order a cake for him. It felt good. It was an achievement and a honour to do it.
Learning to truly like myself is another huge breakthrough for me. Not just liking what I can do for others, or liking what other people see, but me liking me. For better or worse. In sickness and in health.
It took much longer to get to this place because the seed to not like myself was planted a long time ago and by others, but the past decade has seen me take back a lot of my own power. Liking myself more means valuing myself more, as I truly am and as I currently am. No frills or pretentiousness. However there are many occasions and people that come along to test that and jeopardize it. We will constantly be tested to make sure we really have learned to love and accept ourselves. But the more we have the less other people will control our feelings of worth and the more we will be able to endure and go on.
True love. Sounds cliched but it is such a powerful tool to sustaining life. If you find yourself in relationships that ebb and flow and dwindle over time (and by what you can do for the other person) or you never really know how they feel towards you then it’s clear that you don’t share a deeper love with those people. I tend not to focus on them these days. I only treasure the connections I have that don’t fluctuate or where I don’t have to wonder how they feel towards me. No time to waste anymore. I have no energy for misdirected love and loyalty anymore. Even though it may reduce the number of people I love to a handful (if that) it is the depth of that love that sustains me in the darkest times.
Finding happy isn’t easy but when you remove the layers of burdens and rubble that buries happiness and hides it then we get closer to happy. Despite waking today with such pain and struggling to see or breathe, my dogs playing at the end of my bed meant real happiness to me. It was worth seeing and it was worth living for.