Rebuilding Your Life One Step At A Time
Q. I cannot accept what has happened to me in my life. I used to be a high powered executive working for a large company. Now, I have CFS and cannot even attempt my daily activities. I have lost my identity and I feel like a “nobody”. How can I make peace with this in my life?
Frannie Rose: You bring up the big issue of acceptance, which is something that we all have to deal with. When we become ill, our tendency is to deny what has happened to us, and believe each new day when we wake up that somehow we might be healed. I remember when I first became ill, I would wake up each morning, look at the walls in my room and out the window, just as I always did before. And then within minutes it would strike me….I am sick. No one knows what is wrong with me. Shortly after that I would rise from my bed engulfed in a fog that clouded up my life. I spent the rest of the day, in and out of that fog, floating on what metaphorically felt like an ocean with rocky waves. Waves of acceptance would hit me all day from behind, knocking me down.
What I mean by “waves of acceptance” is how we are able to go on with what we are doing and not have a thought about being sick, and then smack, we are hit with a wave of acceptance. All of a sudden, the helplessness and fear of chronic illness becomes so overwhelming and we wonder how we will be able to cope. These waves come over us for just long enough to make our hearts beat faster, add a feeling of panic, and just when you feel most overwhelmed, they disappear again for minutes at a time. They can come as frequently as several times an hour, to only a few times a day. But they are ever present for a period of time when accepting ones illness is the task at hand.
Just like with any adversity, these waves of acceptance can be quite uncomfortable. They can take what was once a productive and fulfilling life and turn it into a life of panic and fear. For a time while they exist, they can shake you up in a way that nothing else can. And what do you do with them? For me the saying of the simple phrase “And so it is” helped a great deal.
These waves of acceptance have a purpose. They are slowly exposing your mind to the problem at hand. Your mind cannot handle the implications of this new problem all at once. And so, in waves you get bits and pieces of the problem, and begin acceptance with this information. Over time, as your illness becomes your new reality, acceptance becomes easier, and you deal from a new place of reality. These waves of acceptance are merely moving you toward a paradigm shift in your thinking. It is your mind trying to deal with a new change in your reality.
Who You Are Not What You Do
Losing your identity and feeling like a nobody is all part of the process, especially if your self worth is wrapped up in “what you do” as it is with most people. Most people function from a place of ego, and ego is strengthened by “what you do”. What you need to find out during this journey to wellness is “who you are”.
“Who you are” has nothing to do with what you do. It is your unique inner essence. It is what makes you a special human being. It consists of your energies, your qualities and the light you shine on others. It is truly who you are and cannot be affected by the things you do, or don’t do anymore. Your inner essence can be found by looking into yourself carefully. Are you kind? Are you compassionate? Are you loving? Are you honest? By putting your qualities both good and bad down on a piece of paper and listing them, your essence will shine brightly enough for you to see it. What are the qualities you have? And the qualities you want to shed? How about the qualities you would like to have? You can be who you want to be. Its a lot easier than most people think. And it has nothing to do with what you do.
Once you are aware of “who you are”, you are now dealing from a place of inner strength. Then, having an illness is just a circumstance, and no longer your whole story. Your story becomes who you are and who you love. It becomes about strengthening those qualities and becoming proud of them. You will then have something that no one can take from you and your illness can no longer weaken your mind.
Where to start!
Start from this place of inner strength and rebuild your life slowly. If your task is to become well again, move forward and make that your goal. If your illness is not treatable or curable, learn about it. Find a good doctor, and use good treatments. Yes, you may be disabled, but make the best of who you are from this experience. Your whole world will no longer fall apart if you remain true to your inner essence. You can cope with changes in what you do if “who you are” is not wrapped up in it. If you need further help with this, please feel free to email me. I would be glad to help you.
The bottom line is that everyone is “somebody” and perhaps this journey is for you to discover, who you really are.
(c) 2005 – Frannie Rose