Here’s to many “better” tomorrows………

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I don’t know about anybody else with chronic pain or illness, but I find mine can really knock my self-esteem. For years I tried working full time while I struggled to accept that my approach to working hours needed some modification. What followed was knock back after knock back, where I took my inability to work full time hours (at a time when “management” of my condition hadn’t begun to occur, and when I was going through a different surgery or procedure every 6-8 weeks), as direct consequence of a general inability or fault of mine. Each and every time I had to quit a job because I couldn’t cope with the hours and/or the sitting/standing requirements, another little piece of my self-esteem was lost. After a couple of years of this, and many many roles, my partner sat me down and said something that simply hadn’t occurred to me. “Why don’t you look for something part time, minimal hours, and assess carefully whether the sitting/standing ratio is right for you?” He pointed out that I was setting myself up for failure each and every time I took on a role I wanted (so very badly) to be able to still do, but which was unrealistic given my current situation. That this may not be this way forever, but that right in that moment, I was being unkind to myself and putting myself in unfair positions.
Now, I know a lot of you out there are probably thinking this is obvious. But to me, while I was still learning about my condition, what “management” meant, and struggling with acceptance, this was a shocking concept. Could I do that? Would it mean accepting defeat? Would I be a failure?
I think my partner is a very intelligent man, with amazing commonsense and logic. However, in hindsight, this concept of being realistic about my new situation wasn’t as mind blowing as I first thought. I was simply in too deep, and I was fighting acceptance of my situation with every bit of my being. I needed someone objective to point this out to me. I thought that accepting (instead of fighting) my condition was giving in to it. I felt I had to fight it head on and not let it defeat me. Boy how wrong I was!
Accepting doesn’t mean defeat. It doesn’t mean giving in to a life of pain. It means accepting that this is my state of health at this point in time, and it means doing whatever I can to make living a full life still possible. Because essentially, defeat to me is when the condition takes over your life. When you cease to enjoy life and all its amazing pleasures. By fighting my condition I gave all my energy to the fighting. Other areas of my life seemed to slip away and become non-existent. The pain became all I could think or talk about. When I decided that I just needed to modify things a bit, my world opened back up again. I returned to part time work gradually, started volunteering and returned to study. My social life became alive once again, and I resurfaced from the depths of fighting. I was relieved to not be fighting anymore…..it had been thoroughly exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, it was a long adjustment, but my quality of life is greater than it’s ever been despite intense pain. Even better than before the pain began.
Recently I found that a volunteer role was becoming impossible due to the amount of sitting involved. Once again, even after all these years, I found myself thinking of it as a failure on my point. Something I wasn’t able to do. A chip at my self-esteem and some tears were shed. By recognizing the pattern I adjusted my way of thinking once again, and began a search for some volunteer work better suited to my situation at present. It wasn’t hard to find something and my self-esteem remained intact. I now volunteer in a role that allows me the ability to get up and move around as needed and with shorter shifts. My approach enabled me to change course and modify rather than to allow the situation to get me down.
Even in my dark days, when leaving the house was impossible, I studied online for a period, and wrote creatively (which turned into a novel or two) during another period. I needed a sense of purpose to feel good about myself.
I guess I’m writing all of this because as we all know, everyone is at various stages of their condition. I guess if this idea could help one person to keep their head above water, I’d be over the moon. It’s so easy to slip into a situation that makes you unhappy. I’m also aware that there are people whose situation will not allow an approach like this. It won’t work for everyone. I’d just like to help and feel frustrated that I can’t.

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17 thoughts on “Here’s to many “better” tomorrows………

  1. I really get this, thank you for writing so eloquently about a very difficult subject. Acceptance is hard taskmaster I think and takes it’s time with us. Good for you…keep on keeping on!

  2. My drive to find something to fill me with a sense of purpose has often given me knock backs and made me feel that i wasn’t good enough so reading this makes me feel much less alone in this. My husband (always a great support) just doesn’t understand my need for purpose and recently i have been finding my charity work so hard and feeling i would have to quit but maybe i could find a way to volunteer in a different way with dif hours and still feel i was helping 🙂 thank you

    • I’m so glad it made sense to somebody else. It’s too easy to feel you’re the only one! My fingers are crossed for you that you can find something more suited to you right now. :). I think sometimes that purpose and sense of self that comes with it can be so important. I’d love to hear how you get on. 🙂

  3. I definitely understand the need for a sense of purpose! That’s why I’m doing the Foggy Frog campaign and why I’m considering going back to work very part time if they’ll allow it.

    • It’s hard isn’t it! Love the Foggy Frog campaign….another way to help a great deal. My fingers are crossed for the docs ok for you! Do you like your line of work? Is it something you enjoy?

      • I’m passionate about the community engagement part of my role and that is what I will ask to focus on if I’m back part time. The building sustainability side of the job I’m not quite so keen on.

      • I should say that I see the necessity of building management but my dream job is in sustainable living/environmental education for community, school and corporate so that is where I’d like to focus any future development.

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