Monday, July 7, 2014


Grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change, 
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.

We’ve all seen & heard this before.   It’s the foundation for any 12-step program, and in some form or another, it’s really at the core of any self-improvement plan.  Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

I usually focus on that second part: changing the things I can. Whether it’s actually doing something different or simply finding a different way to approach things, I feel like I’m doing something constructive.  At a minimum, I can always change the way I think about the situation.  I emphasize the positives – what’s still good in my life when things seem to be going bad, what I still have when I’m grieving over a loss, and what still makes me smile when I am ready to cry. 

It’s that first part that I’m struggling with right now: accepting the things I cannot change.  Whether it’s denial, wishful thinking, or just plain stubbornness, I’m having a really hard time accepting my new reality.  Honestly, it’s hard enough to just say it.  I find euphemisms, or don’t even say it at all.

“ … what I’ve got going on … ”
“ … all my issues … ”
“ … my situation … ”
“ … all this health crap … “
I can say that I’m in pain, but that’s only a symptom.  I can say that everything hurts, but people just think I’m exaggerating.  I’ve even gotten to the point where I can say the names: I have Sarcoidosis and Fibromyalgia (and a handful of other health issues) … but most people don’t really understand what either of those terms mean, so in a way, that doesn’t count.  What I have a much harder time saying is …

I am sick.

It’s not like a cold or the flu, which I’d recover from in a few days.  I’m in pain, but it’s not from an injury that will heal.  My body is attacking me from the inside, but there’s nothing the doctors can cut out to make it stop.  I have an autoimmune disease and a complex chronic illness – neither of which are fully understood by doctors, and neither of which has a cure.  To put it bluntly, this is some serious $h*t.  It leads to degeneration, deformity, and disability.


That’s another word I’m having a tough time saying, let alone accepting.  I don’t want to be disabled (not that anyone does).  I’ve spent such a long time fighting it, “working through the pain,” going further, longer, faster, doing more than what a normal/healthy person could do (can we say overcompensating?), and then really paying for it afterwards.  If someone asked “can you do this?” I didn’t know how to say “no, I can’t.”  I did whatever was asked of me and more: the adrenaline helped me get through the moment, but as soon as it was over, I crashed … hard.  After the last few big events (about a year ago), I was completely incapacitated for days at a time.

Things have only gotten worse since then, and now it’s not just a matter of the consequences after overexertion.  All too often it hurts too much to get up and go for no reason at all.  I continually discover things I’m no longer able to do, from little things like opening a jar to life-altering things like working full time.  I do the best I can to focus on the positive, but this is a reality that I must face … and accept.

A quick Google search gives this simple, straightforward definition:
noun: disability; plural noun: disabilities
a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities.
synonyms: handicap, disablement, incapacity, impairment, infirmity, defect, abnormality; condition, disorder, affliction
          "my disability makes getting into bed a slow process"
· a disadvantage or handicap, especially one imposed or recognized by the law.
   "he had to quit his job and go on disability"

It should be as simple as that.  I do have “a physical … condition that limits [my] movements, senses, or activities.”  But it’s not simple.  In fact, this is possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.  I’m realizing that no matter how much I want to, this is something I cannot change … so it’s something I have to try to accept.  

At least I know the difference

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