Why does it take, the great trauma for we humans to learn the simplest things? It’s a question that unfortunately we only get around to asking, once we actually understand it. If I were to look for the greatest flaw in humans, I now know, exactly where to find it. It’s not even that big, but boy is a huge in its impact. It’s our almost total inability to listen. If we listened, we would understand life, rather than spending almost our entire lives walking around asking “What is the meaning of life?”. The most stupid thing is, all anyone has to do, is sit down and spend an hour or so, talking to someone who has lived with chronic illness, long enough to accept it. We know the meaning of life, we understand it totally, and we can tell you a million times, but will anyone listen to us? No. Yesterday, I asked a question on twitter to which a lady with RA answered. She sent me an extended tweet that repeated just what I have said, and what I have heard so many others say, but all too often, the only ones who listen, are the ones who already know. The meaning of life isn’t just one thing, but the briefest and most important part, is to simply to be kind and to love each other. The rest is found in those words and everything, that actually happens naturally when you do. As I said, it’s simple. If we did it correctly, the world would be a totally different place, but we can’t, we always think there has to be more, there has to be something we’re missing. There is, usually, it’s listening to those who have given you the answer already.
It’s OK, I’m not going to rant all the way through this post. I think I’ve made my point, but it isn’t really the answer that I wanted to talk about, it’s more how we get there. I know for one, that although I was by nature a caring person, I had one huge flaw, just like everyone else has. In my twenties, it earned me a nickname amongst my closest friends, they called me “The Bitch”. On first hearing, it doesn’t sound like a particularly loving name to be called, but I earned it because as I said I had a flaw, I all to often, spoke without the slightest bit of thought. Words just appeared out of my mouth, a somewhat similar process as I use to write, but with one big difference. I can change what I write, once words have escaped into the air, they’re free to go. 95% of the time, even when someone stopped me and asked me what I just said, I still couldn’t see what was wrong with it. It was really that innocent. It took me years, to work out why some people, kept their distance if introduced to me by a friend of a friend. I had always spoken my mind and I was surrounded as a child and as a young adult, by people who did exactly the same thing. If I had asked anyone in my family or my first husband, “how do I look?”, I knew that their answer, no matter how painful, was going to be the total truth, as they did if they asked me. Feelings never came into it. Clearly, we were all generally polite and nice to people we didn’t know, but close friends, they got the truth. So the better I knew someone, the blunter I was in everything I said. Hence “The Bitch”, but they knew I spoke plainly because I cared about them and counted them as friends.
When I worked as a DJ, I learned to run with it, crossed with my very dry sense of humour, it just kept growing and people loved the fact that I spoke my mind and didn’t shy away from saying anything about anyone. I became more and more outrageous as time went on. Trust me, when I was working, “The Bitch” was a title I truly deserved. It’s hard to put it aside when you have lived it for 7 years, but it didn’t go down well in the Business world at all. I manage to temper it, to bite my tongue most of the time, but it got me into trouble more than once. So what has any of this got to do with “the meaning of life”, well a lot? Those who thought they knew me 20 years ago, wouldn’t recognise the person who is sat here writing. No, I’m not just talking about my appearance, they simply wouldn’t put the words I write, as coming from the person they thought they knew. 20 years ago, I like millions of others, felt a great need to hide the true me. I hid behind a facade, I feared coming out from behind it and to show the world the person who cared deeply about almost everything. Part of the “me” the world saw had come out of self-preservation, I had been hurt deeply, both physically and mentally, hiding somehow equalled safety. I put forward a hard brassy edge, as it kept people away, the first rule in surviving, I hadn’t realised that I had turned my flaw, into a weapon. Few really got that close to me, those that did, well they really had to try hard, or there was something about them, that made me let them in. Even I know that the change is like chalk and cheese.
As you know 14 years ago, I was diagnosed with PRMS and Fibro, I suddenly had the reason for the dips in my health, the pain, fatigue and all the other things. Getting a diagnosis changes us all instantly, but it is a process that doesn’t stop there. Accepting our health and actually realising the truth of our future and just how ill we are, takes time. You don’t even notice the change to start with, or how your views on life itself are being affected. Some people at first become truly bitter, understandably to some extent, but others, we just shore up the walls and hide even more. It happens bit by bit, but those facades do slowly drop, we have nothing more to fear, we know what our future is and we start to put to rest our pasts. I can’t put a timeline to it, it wasn’t as though I woke up one day and just put the last traces of “The Bitch” to one side, in fact, the playful side of her is still very much here, but the eyes I see the world with are totally different. There is something about knowing you future and not having to worry about it any longer, that gives you a shield and allows you to explore your past. Bit by bit, I found myself able to work through it all and to start forgiving those who hurt me. That isn’t a once done all fixed process. It needs to be done over and over until they are totally put to bed. So here we are, our past freed and our future settled, all we have is the now. Life is too short to spend it sniping at the world, too fragile, to treat it harshly in any way and too important, to miss any opportunity to enjoy it. My health wasn’t just changing the physical me, it was changing the psychological one as well.
It’s not really that surprising that they say “illness brings out the real you”, it does, in more ways than I can even write about. I always knew that there was a caring and loving me inside, but she had been treated so badly, she didn’t know how to be that person any longer. She does now. The meaning of life, without a doubt, is to love, care and protect ourselves, those we love and even those we will never even meet. Life is filled with so much beauty, so much to enjoy and once your health is gone, all those things are amplified a million times. I got the double whammy when two years ago, I was told that I might just have 10 years left to live. Some might think that such a thing would make you angry that you are being cheated out of having a full lifetime, but when it follows all that change, it doesn’t feel that way at all. Some won’t understand, but for me, it just intensified the new me, it reinforced the importance of trying to make others lives better, bigger and brighter. People want to know what the meaning of life is because they can’t accept that it is that simple, but when you really think about it, it does make sense. To care, to love and to be kind, do them truthfully, from your heart and it is really a case of the more you give the more you get. There will always be the odd person out there who just doesn’t get it, who huff at our words, and sneer at our smile. It doesn’t matter how other react to us, they are still hurting, maybe one day, they will remember our smile and see it without suspicious question marks, just for what it really is.
Being ill, really does make us better people and if you don’t believe me, well here are the words that came in reply to my tweet yesterday.
I can honestly say that I became a better person after I got to terms with the fact that i have RA. I appreciate 90% more in life now, little things makes me happy. Saying nice things and compliment others makes me feel good about myself. I’m never sad when people don’t return compliments or ignore it totally! I get 100% love back when my neighbours says I’m a wonderful person and the prettiest girl in the neighbourhood! Im so grateful for little things now, RA has change my life completely.
Illness truly can and does make us better people, now the only problem we have, is how do we get the rest of the world to listen?
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 28/11/2013 – A happiness anniversary
Although still wishing for a 100 hours sleep, I find myself actually feeling rather upbeat this morning, not that I was on a downer before but exhaustion had a habit of removing all emotions and leaving you as…..