Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Prerequisites are required before moving on

In May, I wrote "Life is Symbiotic" and it seemed to hit some readers differently. The article focused on "acceptance" and "letting go" so we can move on. One of my faithful readers commented, "Thanks for this insight Bruce. ... I found this one particularly helpful for me, as I have been 'stuck' lately in a phase where I feel very angry with this disease (again!). It comes and goes, but I just find myself hating the continual and relentless physical deficits my husband must endure (he never complains, or rarely so). It is all so unfair and I think it's the helplessness I feel that brings on my anger. I know I must let go of this to move on, but it sure is hard sometimes!"

My reply was "Seeing the person they love wasting away is very difficult to accept. Learning to live with Kennedy's Disease includes living with the anger and frustration that accompanies it. It is part of our growing process. Men are notorious 'fixers.' When we cannot fix something, we become frustrated and that can lead to anger. Caregivers are 'maternal' by nature and they do not want to see anyone they love suffer (or in this case waste away). We all have to learn to live with this disease before we can truly find peace."

"Letting go" is definitely something that does not come easily. Most people want to "hold on" to what they have or even improve it in some way. Letting go or releasing something we cherish is probably the most difficult thing most of us will ever have to do. For example, most of us tend to take our health for granted ... especially when we are young. I know I did. As we mature, however, and are around people with health issues ... especially those we love ... reality begins to set in. Health is a blessing and a daily one at that because we never know what tomorrow will bring. Part of the difficulty of accepting our current condition is the fear of what tomorrow will bring. Fear of the future (of what might come or might lose) is most often the reason we do not want to let go. We want to hold on to today and even wish for that miracle that will bring back normalcy (as we knew it).

It has been forty years since I read the book, "Be Here Now," by Ram Dass. I still (somewhat) remember one of the author's messages (excuse my paraphrasing). As we go through life, there are no shortcuts. Our experiences (including the hardships) are needed (prerequisites) before we can move on to the next phase in our life. If there were shortcuts, we would not be prepared for the next part of our journey. Another message was to "be here now" (focused, living day-to-day, and enjoying each moment) because it is a necessary part of our life before we can move on. When you are living in the present, there is no fear of the future or cherishing the past.

"God will never give you more than you can handle" is another saying that means much the same as Ram Dass' message above. I believe this shortened, modern, saying comes from 1st Corinthians 10:13 where Paul tells us: "God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." I take this to mean that my earlier hardships (prerequisites) in my life helped me accept the challenge I am currently experiencing.

I cannot imagine what it would have been like thirty (plus) years ago if I immediately (or within a short period of time) became the way I am today (current level of
weakness, muscles wasting away, etc.). I would not have been ready for it then. Fortunately, I have had thirty years to learn to live with this disease. I needed every year, and, I am still learning to live with this disease daily. And, yes, I still become frustrated and angry at times ... wanting some sense of normalcy back in our lives (clinging to thoughts of what was at one time).

Even though I consider myself a somewhat happy person, until I can "let go" (truly accept my condition), I can never really "move on" (find true happiness).

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