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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Awakening to the Present

I was reading the December 21st entry in Colin's blog and he wrote, "You don’t get to choose what happens to you, but you do get to choose how to respond to it." I agree. That's what I've been trying to figure out this past year, in a nutshell.

I really struggle sometimes with the fact that I'm NOT going to die from this disease, yet it still has stolen my life. There is a real crisis of identity when that happens. I struggle with jealousy, especially when I'm in alot of pain without relief, like I've been the past couple of weeks, because there are people with terminal diseases who can still DO things; and, here I am, able bodied in every way, except one, and imprisoned by pain. So, I guess I have my tantrum, my pity party, and then I get over it and move on, until the next time.

I admire Colin's decision to not turn this into a battle. He's very right. It's not a battle or even a war anymore. Alot of people want to "fight" their disease and not "give up". Well, that's all well and good if there's a possibility of winning, like with cancer. With my disease, like Colin's (ALS), there isn't. The only possibility is to try to diffuse it's power over my life as much as possible. Really, it take's wisdom to know when to give up and when to keep fighting.

I've been working on embracing my enemy over this past year and what that means. The Tibetan-bhuddist philosphy is that you should embrace your enemy, because by holding him close, he can't point his gun at you and he can't kill you. My enemy, certainly, without a doubt, is migraine. Obviously, dealing with migraine is going to be different than dealing with a person. There isn't any reciprocity, there. Therefore, I am the one who must change. If the wall won't move, and there's no way around, over or under it, then I have to change my strategy. Until now, I've been looking at my migraines as obstacles to overcome or find a way around. That's exhausting, for one thing, and for another it's an excercise in futility. It's the wrong way to think about it. They're actually more like a wall that stretches out for infinity in every direction. When you see it that way, you realize how pointless it is to struggle, fight, and rail against the inevitable.

So, how do I embrace it, learn from it, accept it's reality in my life, when my life was just beginning to get good? I was just starting to succeed in business. I was just starting to really enjoy life as a wife and mother, able to relax into that role, with a happy little family, something I've always wanted. I was just starting to get involved with ministering at church, (don't laugh). I was just starting to get involved with the community. I was just starting to figure out who I was and be comfortable with it. I was just starting to bloom, basically. Things were just starting to fall into place for me. (Not that things were perfect, things never are and I had my fair share of angst and struggles just like anyone else. Just wanted to clarify that, lest you think I'd lost my mind). I used to wonder if it would have been easier on me if this had come toward the end of my life, or perhaps when I was in my late 50's, after I'd had the chance to accomplish something. Then, I'd be able to look back and say, "Yeah, I've got this disease and it's a real bitch, but when I was young I... (fill in the blank with major accomplishments)". But, disease is never that convenient and so, now, I have to adjust, like Colin, to my new life. So, this year, I plan on coming up with a plan B. That's something you don't think about very much when you're young and fairly healthy. lol (More on that, tomorrow.)

Once again, I'll say that acceptance is one of the keys to having inner peace. Because I've come to the point where I accept that this is how my life will be for the rest of my life, I'm now asking, "Now what do I do?" That's why I want to come up with a plan B. It's really weird to realize that at 33, I have to come up with a whole new mental image of what my life is going to be like. We all have a mental picture of our ideal lives, our ideal selves and then we make our plans and goals according to attaining as close a life as we can to that mental picture that we have. There's peace in that, too, though, because I'm not constantly waiting for things to change or get better. That's what the wisdom of acceptance, surrender and "giving up" is all about. I have to let go of my past, my preconceived notions of what my life was going to be like, other people's ideas of what my life "should" be like, in order to embrace the reality of the present.

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