Living with a disabling disease such as Multiple Sclerosis is kind of like living with a “shadow”. It’s always hovering behind me…sometimes it’s in front of me. But it’s always here. It’s an uninvited constant in my life.
Sometimes, in my head, I start to plan a great adventure and a split second into that great thought….I am blindsided by the fact that I can’t do that great adventure anymore. At least not the way I would like to or maybe use to be able to. That dark shadow appears and reminds me that I have limitations.
My limitations are my shadow. Learning to live with that shadow is where I am right now. I’m still processing the changes I am experiencing. I am trying to accept these life altering physical, mental and emotional changes and try to carve out the best version of “me and my shadow”.
My good friend Gwendolyn, always says “change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change”. Every time I find myself looking through my dark shadow and am feeling down, I hear Gwen’s voice telling me to change the way I’m looking at things. It’s such a good mantra to fall back on when I get into the doldrums.
I’ve experienced many physical changes since my MS arrived 11 years ago. Thankfully the changes are coming on slowly so I’m getting time to adapt to each new and troubling issue. I often think about people who become disabled overnight due to a car accident or a stroke….something devastating that results in partial or total physical and/or mental disability. I couldn’t imagine how that would be on one’s physiological health and emotional well being.
One thing I have to stop doing is comparing myself to what I think I should be based on my history. I think back on all that I did when my physical body was fit and healthy. I loved to golf with my sweetie, I loved to entertain friends and family in the grandest way, we traveled to exotic locations and I loved to go out on shopping excursions with no limitations. Those are just a few of the things I took for granted that I enjoyed and was able to do them with unlimited ease. That’s not to be anymore so I say “get over it”. “Put your big girl pants on and find new ways to enjoy the things I can still do”.
Living with MS is changing the way I live my life. The limits to my physical abilities prevents me from going on those grand adventures anymore. I have to find new ways to find fulfillment in each day. But, as I’m sure you can imagine…sometimes my shadow is stronger then I am so not everyday is a happy day. But I’m aware of the ups and downs. I strive to stay up. But it’s a rollercoater of emotions and fatigue. It’s a battle I’m determined to fight.
When I see the disabled hockey players take to the ice on their “modified skates” I am always in awe of their bravery. Those men and women have not allowed their limitations to stop them from living. In fact their limitations have sparked their creativity and given birth to the new “version” of them. If that makes sense. Limitations are self imposed. These athletes said their disabilities were not going to define them and they are challenging their limits.
I know that if I only focus on what I can’t do then I get depressed and angry. I am very aware when this is happening to me as it affects my day to day existence in every way. It’s hard to live in the midst of that shadow. It’s tiring for me and for those around me. It takes time for me to acknowledge that this is where I am. It comes to visit me every few months or so. Then I have a “self-lecture” with myself and snap out of it.
I have SO much in my life to be grateful for. God knows that I AM GRATEFUL for every bit of goodness I have in my life. I am blessed to be with the most supportive man any woman could ask for. He’s calm, controlled, caring and compassionate to name just a few of his strengths. Having Paul in my life and forever by my side through thick and thin is enough to be grateful for. His never ending support makes my “shadow” fade.
I have a large and loving family. I have wonderful friends. I am spoiled in so many ways.
So I say….”stop focusing on my shadow…it will always be nearby….and live life large! I must lean on my creativity to find new ways to enjoy the things that make me joyful. And if that means carrying my shadow in my backpack then so be it. But I cannot let my shadow darken my spirit.
A quote from the late Wayne Dyer:
“The only limits you have are the limits you believe”.
So to my shadow I say “you can hang around but don’t limit me. Allow me to live a happy and joyful life.”
“TURN YOUR FACE TOWARD THE SUN, AND THE SHADOWS FALL BEHIND YOU.”