If there is one truth that can’t be escaped, it is the fact that there are as many right ways to live, as there are people on this planet. We all like to think that we have got it right, that we are the ones who can show other the way to be happy, but the truth is, none of us can. When it comes down to it, we are the only people who have both the right, and the understanding required, to know what is right for us. So why is it, that every day millions scour magazines, websites and TV channels, for that ultimate piece of wisdom, that one must have item, or that perfect person, who will make our lives better, if not forever, at least for today? If we were content in our lives, we wouldn’t keep searching in the hope that there is something out there, that we just have to find, and our lives will be perfect. It’s a fact that one group of people have made a living out of for the last century, the marketing men, they know our self-doubt and they play on it constantly. The more that they exploit that discontent, the more they make it grow, creating the perfect circle that keeps them in work. They, though, are the last people that we should listen to because if we are discontent with our lives, it is only us that can fix it and that takes a huge amount of trust.
When I was first diagnosed with PRMS, I went through all that normal things that I believe is all part of accepting what is happening to us. It is without a doubt, one of the hardest thing to go through. Our entire lives have just had the rug pulled out from under us, and rather than landing on the floor, we are like “Alice in Wonderland”, falling and falling and falling, with no idea when or where the bottom of that hole is. We grab at all those roots sticking out of the sides, at all the objects that we pass, the occasional one, appears to slow us for a while. All too often, they fail and we go on free falling and searching. Eventually, as time passes, we learn enough to slow our speed down to more of a float than a fall, but floating in space, isn’t an answer to the millions of questions no one has the answers to. I believe it is at that point that our future is really written, we either accept totally blindly, that there are no answers, that this is our life and we had better get on with it and live, or we fall apart. Blind trust isn’t something we as humans are trained to do, in fact, we are brought up to do the total opposite. We’re taught that everything has to have an answer, that all illness has a cure and that doctors are gods. That if we just demand enough, complain loudly enough, research and demand again, we will get better. They lied to us. But if you can accept that, and then take that leap of faith, to put your trust in nothing, and no one greater than yourself, well, you’re still not going to get better, but you can have a good life and you can stop both floating around and better still, falling.
It goes back to my opening lines, ” there are as many right ways to live, as there are people on this planet” and that isn’t changed by health. Actually, I think our chronic health, makes it even more true. Like it or not, society sees us as a subsection, not quite like them, but regardless of that, we should still fit into the plug hole created for us. You can hit yourself over the head with a mallet forever, once you have a chronic illness, you will never fit, ever, again. Society, quite wrongly, puts health quite far down on the list of important things required to be seen as a successful human. We judge ourselves by our looks, our brains, our personalities, our earning abilities, our social acceptance, social standing and our likeability, not all in that order, but all more important than health. Wrong, because without health, all of those fall apart. As we were falling all those things bit by bit were being blown away be the updraft, we may not have seen it at first, but eventually, we can’t help but have to. Keep falling and you fall into another endless pit, the one of depression, make that leap of faith and decide to trust yourself, to build your own life, your own standards, and your own understanding of self, and you stand a chance of living well, despite it all.
For me, one of the things I had to get through to my pig-headed self was that there was nothing, I can control nothing and there were no battles that I can win. I didn’t possess the power to change anything, it was all going to happen just the way it wanted, regardless of what I did. Friends left, work left, money left, health left, mobility left, looks faded, weight went on and the outside door, closed forever. I couldn’t change a single thing, or control even a single hair on my own head. The only thing I could do was live and that had to be my starting point. Not much to build from you might think, but it was the only thing I had, that hadn’t left, that I had true control over. We all have that ultimate power, to decide if we live or die, it’s the only thing, that once you have had what feels like everything stripped away from you, that is left and is ultimately the only thing we ever have true control over. It took me three years of being housebound, to realise that I had to stop looking outwards for the answers and I had to start looking inwards. If we are going to be happy, if we are going to have a life that means something to us first and other secondly, then inside is where we all have to look. It’s not always pleasant and it’s often almost impossible when your fighting with a body that does what it wants whenever it feels like it, but inside us, is where we find the true us, our true desires, needs, wants and goals.
Recently, I had forgotten all of that, I had let myself be beguiled by all those baubles of life that none of us really need, the things other think we want. I had let myself question what was happening to me and where the answers were to making it all go away. It couldn’t be made to go away 14 years ago when it was diagnosed, it isn’t going to be made to go away now. I can’t get back those who are gone, or the things that I lost. After 5 years of stability, I was falling again and life was out of control. I can see clearly now what through everything out of kilter, why I wanted so badly to make things change and it was all my own fault. I stupidly thought that accepting the loss of being able to walk was as simple as sitting down on my wheelchair. I didn’t think that I had to do anything else other than that, after all, I had done it before. Because I didn’t take the time to go through all those steps of loss, and just leapfrog over them all, what I did was open a huge gash and blood was flowing out in all directions. My attempts to patch it were feeble and ineffectual, I was in denial of the fact I was grieving. When you grieve, you don’t just grieve for what you have just lost, you also open all the grief you have ever felt, in the past.
Every step that our health takes, even when like this one, we know it is written there in our future just waiting for us, still hurts. I thought I had learnt that lesson, that I was passed all that stupid stiff upper lip rubbish. It has its place in front of other, but to ourselves, never. I need to look inside, to myself and to live my life, not the lives of others. I have to accept again and to rebuild around what has happened. Just being able to make my way around the house without bumping into things, is learnt skill, it’s not acceptance. Enjoying being able to do things for me again is a bauble, not acceptance. Finding pleasure in just sitting quietly enjoying a meal I made and a break from sitting here at my PC, is emotion, not acceptance. There is no comparison, nothing that can even bring them into the same sentence. My legs are never going to carry me more than a few steps ever again, fact. Easy to say, even easier to type, hard, really hard to accept. But I have to and I have to do it fully, without brushing any of it under the carpet and hope that it will somehow stay there.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 14/10/2013 – The truth of what life requires
Another week of who knows what? I know that logic says that if you are housebound and ill that everyday should really be like all the rest, but it never really is. I thought when I was no longer working that I would find it impossible to…..