Sometimes this diagnosis just brings me to my knees. The why, the wondering, the not-wanting this, the unknown, the fear…god, the fear. It rages and screams and whispers and doesn’t stop. And so I have to. I have to stop. I rest. I dig through the mud until I finally find that rock. That tiny thing that I recognize, that I know will help me find my way. Sometimes it’s a connection to my mind; a thought, an expression, a quote. Sometimes it’s a connection to the physical; a hike, a bike ride, a lift at the gym. Sometimes it’s a connection to my heart; the sun, the wind, the woods. Sometimes it’s a person who simply gave me the space to feel. Whatever it ends up being, I grab a hold and start pulling my way back up, because I will be damned if this diagnosis will ever take me down.
My beautiful sister, Brigette, sent me a link to Maria Shriver’s interview with Dr. Dean Ornish, author of the recent book, UnDo It!. It resonated deeply (and I’ll be picking up the book shortly!) when he spoke of lessening the load to get back to our true selves. He spoke of the fact that we can expect that our life will be filled with ups and downs. The ups will be amazing and we can await them with wondrous anticipation. The downs, they will happen, too. It is inevitable. We never know how hard, gruesome, terrifying, fearsome or loathsome they may be. But what we do know, or what we can learn, is that these downs do not have to be something we await in fear. These down moments are, most often, our greatest opportunities. If these moments are happening, they most often are an eye-opener to us. What am I not paying attention to? Why am I holding onto this way of life? What am I doing and how can I change it? Even though the circumstance might seem it’s worst, it is important to ask ourselves these questions, “Not as a way of blaming yourself,” Dr. Ornish stresses, “…but as a way of upliftingyourself.”
I agree that this has some major truth to it. But you also must give yourself some grace with it. You might not be ready to dig deep, to grow, to wonder because right now you might just feel mad or angry or upset. So let yourself feel what you feel, but don’t let yourself stay down too long. Start to question, and then stop when it’s too much. Then wonder a little more, and lay it down if it’s too heavy. But piece by piece you must begin.
We search for everything we believe we do not have, not knowing that everything we are looking for is already inside us. We are born with it. ~Don Miguel Ruiz
So because these down things are going to happen, we have to think about ourselves and the compassion that we have for ourselves. So I ask you, what’s in your ‘Get Back Up Tool Kit’? No matter what difficulty you are facing, but especially with chronic disease, having the knowledge of places, things, people, and circumstances that will help bring you back is the key to coming back stronger every time. Where do you feel at peace? What makes your heart skip a beat? Which people are inspirational? Which people really listen and want to be involved? You have to know yourself. You must love yourself. You have to know your supports and understand your why. Because the hills are huge and the valleys get low, but your knowledge of how to love yourself will always help you take one more step.