Reprinted with the kind permission of Samantha Moss and My Medical Musings.
A friend recently posted a question in her Facebook Group, Freedom to Choose, about ways to gain freedom in life, so you can choose how you want to live it.
“What has most helped you to gain freedom in your life to choose exactly how you want to live it?” Jayne Bailey
My response was one word.
Of course I had to follow through with a short sentence because I really can’t stop at one word.
Acceptance brings me peace and freedom.
After posting that response, I pondered about whether acceptance was just a state of resigning myself to living with the shackles of my chronic disease. Or was it more than that?
I feel it’s more. To me the word resignation had a defeatist air about it.
Resignation (meaning): A sad feeling of accepting something that you do not like because you cannot easily change it. – Cambridge Dictionary
I don’t feel defeated. I feel alive. I feel blessed. I feel happy. I definitely feel at peace with my situation. I’m not resigned.
Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it or protest it. – Wikipedia
This is much closer to how I feel. My situation isn’t ideal. I’m not delusional about that reality. My life now is definitely a semblance of my former life but I’m not fighting it. I’ve grieved the loss of the things I loved prior to chronic disease. That’s a healthy and necessary process to moving on to acceptance.
I’ve arrived at acceptance. I now embrace my new life. I don’t protest it.
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It is a new life that I can honestly say I love. I love it as much as I loved my old life.
I’m sure that might seem a completely crazy and foreign concept to many people who know my physical constraints and my daily battle with pain. All of which has required me to embrace a basically reclusive life with my husband.
So what does Acceptance look like for me?
I look for ways to adapt to my disabilities. If I can’t do something that I would really like to do I set about strategising to see if there is a way. If there isn’t I move on. Let’s face it, even able-bodied, healthy people have things they’d like to do but can’t. That’s life. I used to work crazy hours with little free time and I never had time to do all the things I wanted to do at home. Now I do and I love the freedom medical retirement gives me.
I don’t feel sorry for myself. When I was working we had a saying that we put on post it notes, ” Choose Your Attitude”. We even went as far as asking each other what attitude we had brought into the office each morning. We’d encourage each other to choose a positive attitude. It was a bit of fun but it lifted everyone’s spirits and created a great culture. When I feel tired and pain is soaring, I absolutely get grumpy like everyone else. I could easily wallow in that state but I quickly try to remind myself to “Choose my Attitude”. Life is too short to be grumpy and I’ve learned it only makes pain worse.
- I count my blessings. No matter how terrible my health gets, if I take a moment to stop and breath I can always find a blessing in my circumstances.
My stair lift died again this week and there is never much good about that. It’s one of the “worst case scenarios” in my life and a prospect I try not to think about. Anyway, it happened and I had to deal with it.
The blessing that came from it was finding out that we were just within warranty to get it fixed. We also discovered I can have all future servicing paid through my new Home Care Package. Now the real blessing here is that I didn’t know that and within the next week I’m going to be having my first meeting with my Home Care Package Case Manager. Future stair lift maintenance will now be at the top of my priority list to discuss at this first meeting. We can now ensure we allow enough package funding to cover this essential need.
This will be a key difference between us staying in our own home or having to sell up and move to a low set. I don’t want to move. I don’t feel physically ready to move, so my stair lift breaking down was literally a blessing in disguise. It forced me to thoroughly investigate ongoing servicing and funding options and I am now equipped and educated to utilise my package correctly. This will result in safeguarding our future in our home, until we choose to move.
I live in the moment. One of the greatest gifts my rare disease has given me is to take one step at a time, one moment at a time. I appreciate so much more now. I always loved nature and weather and food. Now I savour every detail of a flower blooming, the seasons changing, the sun setting, the smell of fresh coffee beans, the lingering taste of a favourite meal. I love watching the tides come in and go out, listening to birds chirping and the variety of those chirps is so beautiful.
- I love the freedom my new life offers. No more agendas. No more time frames and deadlines unless I choose to make one. No more alarms going off in the morning unless I want to get up at a certain time. I can eat meals when I like. I can watch a favourite TV show while having lunch which can roll into afternoon tea. I can read, listen to music, pray and reflect when I like. I can write when I feel inspired.
I’m not resigned to my life with chronic disease. I’ve accepted and embraced it for the reasons above and many more besides.
My disease could be a bondage if I let it but I haven’t let it. I’ve chosen not to let it. I’ve had courage to make radical changes to things within my control. I’ve recognised that seeking a peaceful life, not fighting against things that can’t be changed, brings the serenity needed to accept new circumstances.
I often say “It is what it is”. I choose to live as well as possible with my disease. It’s not who I am but it is a part of who I am. It doesn’t define me but it does refine me.
Acceptance has brought freedom. It’s also brought peace and joy. It’s brought serenity.
Sam retired early, from an Executive Management career in Banking, due to a rare bone disease causing pathological bone fractures, including two broken femurs. She also has Rheumatoid Arthritis and a permanent colostomy. She is the founder of an online support forum "Medical Musings with Friends", a place where the hand of friendship and genuine understanding is offered, to anyone living with the effects of chronic disease.
You can follow Sam on her blog 'My Medical Musings' and on twitter: @Med_Musings & @medmystmusings