Monday, September 16, 2013

The Long Road to Acceptance

I wish the title of this post referred to the long road to my novel being accepted for publication, but alas, that is not the case.

Instead, it refers to what so much of my posts lately have dealt with - my health.

After another unproductive writing weekend due to poor health, I had a startling and rather frightening epiphany: I can no longer do everything I once did.

This is a staggering realization in more ways than one. I've always loved to travel, but now, just making the trip home to western Nebraska results in a flare up. How am I going to go to all the places I long to see - Italy, Germany, France, Austria? Those trips involve a lot more than getting in the car and driving to my destination!

Then there's taking care of the house. I am very blessed to have a husband that helps with the laundry, the cooking, and the cleaning. He's always been that way. But I want to pull my fair share of the chores, too, and I'm realizing that it takes all my energy sometimes just to vacuum.

Of course, the biggest fear I have is not being able to write everything that I want to write. On one level, I accept that I'll never be able to tell all the stories I want to tell because there are simply far too many. But I'm struggling with the projects I already have on my plate. Months ago, I had more energy and more enthusiasm - but the rheumatoid arthritis ebbs and flows in intensity, and right now, it's been keeping me down for the count more often than not.

I'll get them done - there's no fear of that. It's just that my timeline will be slower than usual.

And that is what is hard for me to accept. A slower pace. A reduced work load. Days when I simply don't have the energy or stamina to do the work. But there is always a voice in the back of my head that reprimands me on these days. It says, "You're being lazy. Get tough." And since I battle procrastination, I wonder if I'm using my health as an excuse to procrastinate.

But I instinctively know this is not the case. It's not laziness - it's inability.

Accepting that it is inability is the hard thing.

I once read a blog post from someone who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis who talked about the grieving process over his disease. I didn't understand exactly what he meant by grieving. Now I do. I grieve my lost energy. I grieve my pain-free existence. I grieve the fact that I will always have this disease - it's never going away.

However...

There is a bright side to this.

My writing.

I always come back to my writing. Why? Because that's who I am and what I do. I explore and understand my world through words. This will only lead to a richer, deeper, more meaningful life. And what is bad about that? Absolutely nothing.

But that's not all. I want others to see that suffering from chronic illness isn't the huge obstacle it appears to be. It is a mountain that needs to be climbed, yes, but you are not alone in climbing it. Others are right there with you, ready to lend a helping hand, ready to cheer you on as you take that next step.

We all have obstacles in life. Every single one of us. How we choose to look at those obstacles and overcome them is what defines us and shapes us and makes us into the person we want to be.

I'm choosing not to be bitter. I'm choosing to be positive. Does this mean I won't have down days and days where I complain and whine? Not at all. I'm only human, after all.

Acceptance is an ongoing process. On days like today (when the pain is bad and I just want to sleep), it's easier because I'm right in the grip of my illness. I know I can't do it all. But on the days when I feel better, I forget about those bad days and charge full steam ahead. Then, when I initially get hit with a flare up, acceptance is so hard. I'm on a good run and then slam headfirst into a brick wall.

I need to find a happy medium!  But I'm working on it, and God is helping me through it. Trusting in Him is what I need to do. The peace I feel when I do that is immeasurable.



Sometimes I wonder if I should be this personal on my blog. But the answer always comes back to me as a resounding YES. If I can help even one person, if I can give them comfort or encouragement through my trials, then putting myself out there is worth it.

Onward!




18 comments:

  1. It's worth it! You're being real, and that's so important. Praying you start feeling better soon, and that your health improves.

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    1. Thanks for the good thoughts, Erin. I'm learning how to cope with it day by day - and of course, some days are easier than others. =D

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  2. I admire your spirit Melissa. That's what will keep you strong as you live with this disease. And thank God you have your writing - such a blessing.

    Those good days, where you charge ahead, remind me of some advice given to my son (who is suffering from post viral fatigue) and that is to pace yourself. For him it means on the good days to not be tempted to use up all his energy, but keep some in reserve. I know your issues are different, but I wonder if there's something you can take from that.

    Keep your hand firmly in God's and He will lead through this.

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    1. J.T., I appreciate your wisdom so much. You're absolutely right in what you told your son - to conserve energy on the good days instead of going full speed ahead. Such wise advice, and something I need to take to heart, as well. And I'm so thankful I have the Lord to help me through this!

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  3. I don't have a chronic illness, but accepting limitations--whether they be permanent or temporary--is something I struggle with. Someone linked to an article a few weeks ago about accepting where you're at in life; accepting *wince* being broke while trying to launch a project that will bear fruit in the future. Basically, surrendering expectations (usually short-term) that only increase stress, resentment, and unproductivity (in a long-term project). Sometimes I do feel that not fighting difficulties means I'm giving up or being lazy, but I all I end up doing is tying myself in knots! Thanks for this post--it really spoke to me today.

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    1. YES. I tie myself up in knots, too! It's so frustrating. I think if we stopped to look at how we're treating ourselves and realized that we wouldn't treat our friends this way, we'd be a whole lot happier. I'm glad my post helped, and I wish you nothing but best wishes on your future projects!

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  4. I hope you have many more of the positive days than the down days.

    On a separate note, I took my daughter to university this weekend and their student union is in an old Nissan hut that was a theatre during WW2 where the US Army was based. Apparently Eisenhower gave a speech in there. I thought you might find that interesting.

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    1. Thank you, Debs. And that is so cool about the Nissan hut! I can imagine the stories that place has to tell...

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  5. This is so hard! I've been struggling lately myself with my arthritis and the pain that is causing when I type, and my diabetes, which I am frankly just so tired of, day after day after day. It is no wonder we struggle with depression on top of it!

    We live in a country where we are told constantly that we can do it all. We SHOULD be doing it all. And yet... God says we can't. And in our weaknesses, God is able to do more than he can in our strengths. Our pastor this Sunday reminded us that success in the world's definition is not our purpose in life... our purpose is to glorify him in whatever situation we are in. Whether we are weak, or strong. So much harder to do than to say!!

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    1. I LOVE your thoughts on this, Heidi. They are spot on. I think I have that work ethic (from generations of farmers) that says to always be tough, to work through the pain, to do the job. That voice is constantly nagging me and I've had to silence it a lot lately to make it through the day.

      I'm so sorry you're struggling with diabetes AND arthritis. How frustrating! One day at a time. Will keep you in my prayers.

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  6. Like Heidi, I've been struggling with this as well. Trying to figure out what I can and cannot do, because I can not do it all and I don't even have a health problem to compound it so I applaud you.

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    1. That darn "do it all" mentality is a terrific recipe for burn-out, isn't it? LOL I hope you're able to find some balance soon!

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  7. Good luck Melissa - accepting what we cant do is always so hard isnt it? x

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    1. Thank you, Sue. It IS hard, but I think life is easier when we can find that acceptance. Getting there is the tough part!

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  8. Elizabeth Parker11:40 PM

    "Sometimes I wonder if I should be this personal on my blog. But the answer always comes back to me as a resounding YES."

    I second that resounding YES, Melissa. You're authentic, you're real, and we love you for it. :)

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    1. Awww, thank you, Elizabeth! :)

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  9. Its scary getting personal on a blog but yes, we never know when our shared experience could benefit someone else. Every time you write about RA your courage shines through. I love how writing is your bright side, I love knowing people who "get" that!

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    1. Thanks, Margo. :) I think it's so important not to live in isolation when we have a struggle we're facing - we can help so many people if we just talk about it. So I hope I can do the same.

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