Monday, October 23, 2017

Acceptance

For the last few months I've been working on acceptance with my Health Psychologist. One of the mistakes I've made for a long time is mistaking acceptance with a zen-like happiness about something. Apparently, it's a common mistake. Not only a mistake but still a subconscious form of control.

In the past we talked about the story of the man yelling at the waves and expecting the waves to behave how he wants them to, not how their nature dictates. Anger often is an expression of feeling out of control or wanting to control one's environment, or those in it. That part I understood, no point railing at something that is out of my power to control. Understanding what is and isn't in my area of control was a little trickier.

We worked through that as well, and I thought I was doing okay with acceptance. But no, I was using it as a form of control again. If I go through life not getting upset about things, I'm not accepting life, I'm rigidly controlling how I feel about things. And thus, I would blow up at inappropriate moments.

A few weeks ago, I expressed nervousness about coping with the heat again this year. I feel so helpless in the face of the inexorable heat that is an Aussie Summer. My body hates the heat with a passion. All of my MS symptoms feel much worse.; The numbness, the fatigue, the inability to reason, my typing and writing look like a dyslexic monkey on LSD has done it. I can't sleep, I feel useless and afraid. Kiddlywink and Alaskaboy enjoy the heat and want to go out and do things, I want to hunker down because I'm in survival mode. I can't escape the heat.

“What do you do about the heat?” my psychologist asked me.

I'd never really thought about it before then. “It's hot,” I said, “ I feel afraid.”

“No, what do you DO about it?”

“I paid for Mum and Dad to have evaporative cooling in their house. I only wear cotton or plant based fibres that breathe, or as little as possible. I drink cool things, I hop in a bath. I live my life as best I can.”

“Do you like the heat?”

“No, I hate it.”

“Does hating it, or anything else you do to mitigate it, make the heat go away?”

I thought about it some more. No. No the heat doesn't go away. I can do what I can to deal with it..but every year for at least three months of the year it's gonna be bloody hot!

….
….
…....”OH!” I said. “I don't have to like it, I just have to accept it. Do what I can to cope with it, but I can't CHANGE it. I'm allowed to feel whatever I want to feel...but I can't change that fact that IT IS!”


Acceptance is admitting that no matter what I do, there are things that I can't control and sometimes things happen just because, not because of anything I have or haven't done. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. (This week we dealt with the Just World Theory..more on that another time.) All I can do is choose how I deal with those things out of my control. And sometimes I can't even control that. I'm human, I have emotions, I react. Sometimes, I react appropriately, sometimes, I over react. Acceptance is learning that as well.

Being responsible means I go back and check in with myself later when I am able and try and figure out how/why I overreacted. And then check in with AB or KW or whoever I've overreacted with. And sometimes they won't forgive me. And that's okay too. Sometimes I can't check back in and have to live with how I may have affected that person's day too. I can't always make amends. I won't always figure out why I reacted the way I did. Over analysis is another form of control I have used in the past to try and figure out how to control myself and others in case the situation comes up again. The what if game, I played a lot. So IF something happened I'd be prepared to react accordingly. Ahh anxiety, that's a whole other form of control.

I'm amazed at how much my anxiety levels have dropped in the past couple of months now that I'm beginning to understand acceptance. My marriage is better for it. My daughter is happier for it. I'm modelling behaviour that they either will or won't learn. I'm happier for it.

Not many people know but I had a relapse during the last two weeks. Before, I would have hunkered down on my couch, woe is me, panic, panic, how can I fix it make it better, what did I do to cause it. OMG! And It would take me months to come out of the depression it caused. And eat. Oh, man, would I eat.

I have relapsing remitting MS. Relapse sucks. I am getting used to my new normal. I'm another layer of numb over at least 50% of my body. My eyes are a bit worse, green traffic lights look like beautiful flowers or fireworks, even during the day now. I feel weaker. I'm scared. But, even though I'm feeling those things, this time I could strike a balance. I had my moments/minutes/hours of feeling negative..and I felt them whatever those emotions were. But, I also had a picnic in the park. I went to morning tea with a friend. I went swimming. I watched movies or shows that I love...without binging on them. I didn't have a lavish birthday with tonnes of photos “in case it's my last one where I'm normalish,” I didn't try and fight it, I accepted it..and got on with my life, the ups and the downs. Because that is life, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. This is my life, and I accept it. I accept my community, near and far, present or absent. I accept myself, warts and all. And it feels damn good.

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