I want to share this note as a way of saying “Thank You.” Thank you to “my teachers” – those who came into my life at just the right moment and showed me a better way to live life on life’s terms. Thank you my friends for helping to save my life and for teaching me how to live this life.
I wish I had $5 for every time I cried out, “I just want to feel normal again!” or “I just want the old me back!” I had my surgery in 2001 and after years of mental and emotional suffering over ‘what could have been’ – years of anger, rage and self-hatred – I knew I had to change my way of thinking or lose my mind.
When I realized I was never going to be completely pain free or symptom free – that I was never going to be “normal” – I spent a few weeks filling journals with my grief over lost dreams and ‘what ifs.’ Then I took those journals and burned them … releasing that anger, disappointment and grief. Very rarely do I let myself revisit that pool of regrets … if I do, I can go to a very very dark place quickly … and that is a dangerous place for me to swim. Here are a few things people have taught me – things I TRY — TRY — to PRACTICE to make my life livable … more peaceful.
Acceptance. Once I accepted the ‘new’ me, I was able to find beauty, grace and strength in the woman Chiari helped me to become. Once I accepted my physical limitations, I began to see I had mental (brain fog included), emotional and spiritual strengths that Chiari could not take from me unless I chose to surrender them. Once I accepted I had to share my body with Chiari, I stopped being hard on myself … I stopped pushing to be something I am not. I stopped trying to prove to the world and myself I could do more than I can. Acceptance of myself – as I am today – helps me be gentle, kind and loving to my body … and I become more peaceful.
Gratitude. When I feel myself begin to slip into the “dark place” … I play a mind game … I say “I am grateful I am HERE, in the USofA and not in a country where women are being raped and tortured, where they have acid thrown in their faces … now THAT is agony and suffering Brenda!! So pull yourself together and find something today to be grateful for … NOW – RIGHT NOW!!” So, I keep a gratitude journal and every few days, or when Chiari tries to crush my spirit, I write one or two things I am grateful for — these journals I do not burn!! I keep them on a shelf and when the past reaches out and tries to drag me back – I pick one up and read.
Expectations. (this is a tough one) I TRY to not have expectations about how people are going to treat me, think about me, help me or spend time with me. I TRY to remember, just because someone does not respond the way I want them to – the way I think they should – does not mean they do not care. If I avoid expectations, I can avoid becoming angry, disappointed, sad – or worse yet – a martyr … all things that make me isolate and try to jump back into my dark “pool of regrets.”
Honest. I TRY to be honest with myself and others about what I can and can not do and why. If someone asks, I TRY to be honest about how I am feeling on any given day without making the other person feel bad because they don’t feel bad!! And I TRY to not get upset or be judgemental if they do not say the ‘right thing’ (damn those expectations!). I try to be honest with myself and ask for help when I need it – again, without expectations. This being honest has done two things for me; 1) It has helped me to educate people about me and my needs and about Chiari and 2) it has thinned out the crops … lol Those people who can not accept me … who can not rejoice in the person I am today … go away … and my life is better for their leaving.
Humor. I TRY to laugh every day … several times a day. I use YouTube to find funny animal antics. I read books that are funny. I watch funny TV shows or movies. Or I simply joke around with people on-line.
And thank YOU for letting me share this today … I think I needed a little reminder of how far I have come … a reminder that April’s coma and ICU visit were just a bump in the road … I can do THIS life … we can all do THIS life.
And Thank You to my teachers who have left this world …
Danny – for seeing ME. I miss you and I will love you always.
Carol – your friendship, wisdom, love and acceptance remain HERE, in my heart.
Chip – for being a guiding light, for showing me life with Chiari is doable and worth the challenge.
Ray – for “Every thing is going to be OK Mom – every thing is going to be OK.” … I miss you honey … I love you.
Sunny Bunny – for giving me confidence to move about the world …for road trips, for laughs, for keeping my feet warm … enjoy the Rainbow Bridge my sweet boy.
Copyright © 2016 Brenda L. Surin. All Rights Reserved.