One of the ministers told this anecdote last week:
She often found herself walking with the senior pastor. He was taller then she, his strides longer. He also liked a fast pace. She struggled to keep up with him, a frustrating task. Eventually it occurred to her I'm going to go at my own pace, even if it means not keeping up with him. To her surprise she found he started matching her pace.
While listening to her I started thinking about those of us who have families, colleagues, friends, etc who say they do not believe us, who insist we can do what we tell them we cannot, who abandon, argue, insult, often seeming to believe that is the way to get us to do what they think we can do.
Many times we try to match their pace. Inside we fight with ourselves, I can't do it, how can they act like this, what can I do to make them see, to make them understand, to get them to feel what I am feeling? while we struggle to do the undoable; but that does not work for them if they cannot see the struggle and definitely it does not work for us.
We cannot make them 'get it".
It would be wonderful if we could. It seems it is the rare person who is able to make the connection, something clicked,and they found the empathy and compassion that had been lacking. But what about the rest who refuse to see or hear us or the pain?
The other thing the pastor mentioned was the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Pacing is in the accepting. Is the pain changable, at least for right now? Is the ability and disability changable? (I have used this anecdote before: My father would say "Why can't you work?" I would reply "Because of the eye pain." He always said the same thing: "I have seen you read so I know you can." No matter how many times he said it, challenging me to read more, to use my eyes more, there was no way that was going to happen. It hurt me, to the quick, but I could not change it, my disability, his disbelief.) The things that cannot be changed may be the person you most want to change, the person you want, feel you need, to be your support, your bullwark. Sometimes letting go of the hope of their change is what is necessary for acceptance.
Sometimes the disbelief extends to the things we try in the hopes of ending or at least reducing the pain. ("You want surgery, you like to take drugs, you like going to the doctor.") It is necessary, it may not change our situation, but we need to try what is suggested. We need to do what we need to do to help ourselves. It often takes courage, and the courage that I see so many in pain demonstrate is truly overwhelming.
To know which is which is also in the pacing. I cannot match, cannot keep up with, the rationales people have for challenging us, challenging our pain. The emotional toll the fight takes is antithetical to doing what we need to reduce the pain, to get through the day.
So, here is my idea. Let them match our pace. Slow down, do what we need to do to keep the pain at bay, if possible, or get through what we need to do in spite of the pain (to spite the pain(?) ) Let them catch up to us.