I knew it wasn’t good when I woke up vibrating last Saturday…. Maybe you’re familiar with this sensation, maybe not…..
It happens sometimes when I’m in a bad fibromyalgia flare. Normally, I just take a recovery day to deal with it. The problem this time was that we were headed down to my parents’ house to celebrate Father’s Day with my Pop and there was no way I was going to miss it. I just prayed that the Lord would give me strength to get through it.
As I showered, tears of frustration started rolling down my face. My body was letting me down again. I absolutely hate that our family gatherings are something I have to ‘get through.’ I love spending time with my family and I resent the fact that this illness makes that a chore instead of a joyful occasion sometimes.
It was taking almost everything I had in me to remain upright, and here I was wasting energy on being frustrated with the situation. It was time to revisit acceptance.
Now, I realize there are people with fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses who say, “I will never accept this. I’m going to fight it for as long as I live.” I respect that. If it works for you, I say fight on!
For me, it wasn’t working, and I had to find another way…. When I first found out what was wrong with me, I was convinced I was going to fight it and I was going to win. I would be one of those people who would be cured. The problem with that was that when I wasn’t cured, I started to feel hopeless and stopped really living. Something had to change.
That’s when I learned the real-life truth about acceptance. I had to stop fighting my body, and accept that I had a chronic illness.
Did this mean that I was giving up? Absolutely not!
What Acceptance Isn’t
Acceptance isn’t giving up. It’s not saying that you’re not going to fight anymore. The difference is that you’re not going to fight yourself anymore.
It isn’t a matter of just deciding that whatever happens, happens and you’re not going to try to do anything about it.
Acceptance isn’t allowing yourself to become a victim of your illness.
It isn’t resigning yourself to an unfulfilling life.
What Acceptance Is
Acceptance is, at its most basic level, realizing that you have an illness, most likely one that isn’t going to go away, and deciding that you will work with your body to find what helps you to live, and live well, within the confines of your illness.
Acceptance can mean freedom – freedom to not feel as if you’re having to fight all the time, freedom to try new things – new coping skills, new ways of doing things, new treatments, etc., freedom to find a ‘new normal’ that works for you.
Acceptance is learning to work with your body, not against it. When we can accept the limitations of our bodies due to our illness, we can start to work with it to learn what’s beneficial for us.
It’s knowing that you’re enough, just the way you are. It’s realizing that being ill doesn’t somehow make you ‘less than.’
Acceptance is a lot like forgiveness. Generally, when someone has done something to us and we can’t forgive them, feelings about that person tend to affect our lives in negative ways. When we choose to forgive them, although they’re still there, they don’t hold that power over us anymore.
Acceptance can work in much the same way. When we don’t feel that we have to ‘fight’ the actual illness anymore, when we realize that our more important fight is to have a life of meaning and purpose whatever our circumstances, we can allow ourselves to move forward just the way we are. Although the illness is still there, we have the power to make the decisions that will help us live the life we want to live.
Acceptance Isn’t Final
Once we finally reach the point where we accept our condition and are ready to move forward, we’re all set and we’ll never have to worry about this again, right?
Unfortunately, at least in my experience, acceptance isn’t a ‘one and done’ experience. There are times we have particularly bad flares or when that old guilt, resentment, or feelings of inadequacy crop up and need to be dealt with again.
That’s okay. We just process those feelings, revisit this idea of acceptance, and go from there.
Many of us with Fibromyalgia refer to ourselves as warriors, and I love that imagery. It evokes a feeling of strength, of determination, of resolve. We do fight a battle pretty much every day. Some days it’s just to get out of bed. When we accept our illness, we’re not giving up the battle; we’ve just chosen a new adversary.
How do you feel about the idea of acceptance? Do you find it beneficial? Please share!