acceptance: strength, not defeat

After having to accept yet another thing about being chronically ill, I wrote the post below and left it to “ripen.” In the world of crazy coincidences that are my life these days, Emily Ruth of Chronically Creative contributed a post each day of invisible illness awareness week, including an amazing one on, you guessed it, acceptance. Take the time to check it out – well worth the reading. Her facebook page has links to all her posts including the invisible awareness week ones. If you haven’t visited her site or facebook page, you should. She is one amazing woman!

And, honestly, I hadn’t seen/read her post when I composed me.

As a child, I accepted that my ankles and head would always hurt and I had life threatening allergies.

As a pre-teen, I accepted that I would be incapacitated at least two days a month due to pain.

As a teen, I accepted that depression would always shadow me.

As a teen, I accepted that I would get migraines that could last a day or a week.

As a young adult, I accepted that my shins would ache unless I walked enough each day.

In my mid-20s, I accepted that only one week of the month was okay; the other three where spent in PMS, PMDD, bloating and pain.

In my late 20s I accepted that I would always have digestive issues.

In my 30s, I accepted that I would always have to fight my demons; one moment of inattention could lead to months of hell.

In my 40s, I accepted that my facial pain wouldn’t go away; that my neck spasms would get worse and the only thing for the pain generated by tightness in my neck and shoulders were prescription muscle relaxants.

In my 40s, I accepted that I would not have access to alternative/naturopathic therapies such as healing massage as health insurance doesn’t cover it; the clinics/medical health professionals were not easily accessed through public transit.

In my 40s, I accepted that my dental pain wasn’t going to stop, and there was little I could take or do to make it more bearable.

In my 50s, I accepted that the osteoarthritis which I’d had since my 30s, would always affect my jaw, “face bones”, neck and spine, and even with osteoporosis medication, bone density remained poor, and falling as much as I did was not a good thing.

In my 50s, I accepted that I will not get the kind of psychiatric, therapy and medications that I need to get better.

Acceptance isn’t negative. Instead of running head long into the brick wall, you examine it closely for cracks and imperfections – places where the bricks/mortar could be chipped away.

Acceptance doesn’t mean I’m giving up, lost all hope, or spirit. Acceptance means that I will control what I can. I have chronic pain; chronic pain doesn’t have me.

Acceptance, for me is being a realist; knowing that the research I do is worthwhile, but it isn’t going to cure me, or lessen the symptoms, make things easier. I’ll be more informed, even if that presents the hard fact that there is nothing to help with the symptoms, or there are beneficial, stabilizing and “normalizing” medications and therapies I can’t access due to health insurance and public transportation issues.

Acceptance is that I will not let my illnesses define me, confine me, or be me. Although I may not feel it right now, I am more than being in never-ending pain and endless deep depression.

Acceptance, too, is appreciating that the level of pain (physical and emotional) I deal with is so slight compared to what others struggle with every second of every day.

Acceptance of the small things: making a toddler’s face one big smile; returning an earth worm to the earth, rather than leave it wiggling on the concrete sidewalk; fancy coffee drinks; snowdrops that spite the winter by blooming through the layers of snow; blue skies; rainbows; harvest moons; blog and face book postings; email from a friend; fall’s riotous colo(u)rs; honey crisp apples; sharing a smile; giving and getting hugs; dropping a quarter in the Salvation Army “kettle;” donating art supplies for art therapy at a woman’s shelter. None of these will win me an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy, Pulitzer, or Nobel Prize. But, these are things that make me feel lighter and delighting in what being aware of and accepting the importance of the small things in life can do.