This week’s Prompt is hosted by Karuna Poole:
*Tell us about a time when you felt gratitude. Was it just a glimmer or so strong it was all- consuming… or something in-between? Did it change your perspective about your life or help you create balance? Did it help you appreciate the little things? Did it change the way you saw yourself or the way you saw or acted towards others? On the other hand, do you find yourself so stuck in the memories of the past or overwhelmed by the challenges facing you today that you are unable to remember anything you’ve felt grateful for?
Immediately I almost did a hoorah and thought “this one will be easy this week”. But still I procrastinate over writing it.
What were my first thoughts?
There has been much going through my mind the last couple of weeks. There are many posts that I have read from different bloggers and chats and somewhere along the line coupled with friendships away from the ethernet something has just clicked in me. That is acceptance.
What do I mean by this?
Most will know that I suffer from chronic pain in varying degrees. But one day I was living the life of a fit, fairly young person, two children and a husband, just about getting ready from being a stay at home mummy, to going back to work.
I used to be a ‘holistic’ therapist, one of my joys, and had prepared somewhere to work in and was about to get the gears in to motion to make it work.
Bang out of the blue, my whole life changes. From one day to the next I go from active to extreme pain and bedridden. At that point I couldn’t think of anything but getting rid of the pain, I thought also I would get better.
Time passed and over the last 2-3 years I have had set backs and periods of which seem extremely slow in progress to get better, or should I say more active and mobile.
How have these periods affected me?
Firstly they have affected my family on a huge scale, that in turn effects me.
I have felt overwhelming feelings of guilt that I was stuck in bed and could not go out and do things with my children, not even cook them dinner or put them to bed at times.
It is just the most horrible experience, it is suffocating and imprisoning watching from the sidelines, reaching out but never feeling like one can ‘actually be a part of the whole mothering experience’ which is a natural desire.
Financially it had consequences too, I couldn’t work and my husband had to take so much time off to do the school runs, various medical appointments, shopping etc, the list goes on.
I have felt a whole wealth of emotions, anger, resentment, guilt, depression, frustration, worthlessness, low self esteem and fear plus much more.
At times I felt like I was in a pit and would never manage to get out and I yearned for my time before I got this condition, that was all I would focus on. Then I would focus on the pain, how was it going to feel how was it going to affect me on a day to day basis, what would it stop me doing, it was like a burglar one that persistently came in to rob me slowly of different things.
I let the pain totally dominate my life, it has been a huge roller coaster ride of emotions, back and forth, like climbing an icy mountain, you feel such a sense of “oh yes I think I am going forwards” to then slip back down again halfway and sometimes that fall just feels like too much.
I’ve had moments of wanting to give up. With this I mean to stop trying, not getting out of bed, not trying to progress forwards and achieve some kind of normality.
So what changed?
I’ve started to read other people’s stories. There are things that have stuck out in my mind.
They are things like, taking life slowly. When one is forced to take life slowly it takes on a completely different form, one starts to appreciate things that one was moving too fast before to notice.
Now I see things around me, I didn’t notice, the red of the budding berry, it’s shiny coat, the velvety look of a flower petal, the old woman who looks so kind walking up the road, who I must say ‘hello’ to. ~ For this I am grateful
I have had time to self reflect, question myself and my reactions perhaps towards my children with my parenting techniques ~ For this I am grateful
One post also talked about taking time. Enjoying the small things in life, don’t feel guilty about taking time to ‘treat’ yourself, in whatever form that takes.
I spent so long feeling guilty that I didn’t feel that anything good should come my way. How could I experience the pleasure of being treated if I was so worthless?
This feeling has also crept in to my life during my childhood, perhaps in a lesser form, but now through learning within my condition and listening to others, it is alright for me to feel good, to feel treated, even be it emotionally with a good feeling ~ For this I am grateful
With reflection and time to think, it has reminded me of a time I met a woman who burned all her possessions one day, shaved her hair and headed to a Buddhist Monastery. I spent time with her and remember her words, those of finding something good or progressive or useful in any situation, no matter what happens, good or bad. I have before my condition tried to embark on this way of thinking but moreso now, because having had these testing times, it has challenged friendships and many other interactions which has become enlightening. ~ For this I am grateful
I enjoy the philosophy of Buddhism and though I digress a little would like to include a few quotes:
Buddha means “Awakened One”, someone who has awakened and sees things as they really are.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become”
“He is able who thinks he is able”.
“The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness.”
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
Reality & Acceptance
I have finally started the journey of acceptance. This means that I am putting my old life behind me, I can enjoy the memories and be grateful for having them. Many people are in a far worse off position than myself.
It is a learning journey and I am by far not great at it yet, but at least my toes tread the path of acceptance. My life is new now, I don’t know how it will end up, what is the point of thinking “will I get better?” Because when you do that you start to give yourself end goals that just start the wheel of emotions spinning again.
I will take day by day, to appreciate the new things that I am learning. I will still strive with baby steps, not boom and bust, to progress in ways, be it physically and emotionally so that I can experience as much as I can with my family and friends and to be grateful for each day.
I want to give back to society, to do something. There is the overwhelming desire to ‘be of use’ outside of my family and the realms of my capabilities.
I have read Sreejit’s story and am slightly in awe of his family and his life’s choices and for a moment I thought “what have I done that is self sacrificing.” I remember him responding to a comment someone made, pointing out that having children, being a mother, is an immense journey of worth. I don’t see it as a sacrifice, but it is something great as he said, but over and above this, it is good to give back in some way, regardless of what one has received.
I know my limitations yet have put the wheels in motion in small ways to be able to give back and that creates immense joy ~ For this I am grateful
Determination is something you take on when faced with life’s challenges, I don’t see it as a negative thing, far from it, I have learned to be determined on a new scale ~ For this I am grateful
To finish off, this journey is like shedding off old skin, it is a relief, though I know I have a long way to go, I feel set free in some emotional way ~ For this I am grateful
Does this mean I am grateful for my pain? No, but I am grateful for the lessons it has taught me.