To accept where we are in life requires an acceptance of what has gotten us here. It is hard to reach hope if you are stuck in the 'it is not real', or 'it is temporary' mode despite proof to the contrary.
In thinking about this I realized that the 5 stages of grief, as set forth by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross, commonly thought about in relation to the dying process, was just as relevant for us.
I am still stuck in stage 1 - denial.
I am also stuck in phase 2, anger, and stage 3, bargaining. Depression, stage 4, is a conundrum for me.
Depression is often defined as feeling hopeless and helpless. Each time the doctors say "Sorry, nothing else to be done for you." I am angry, there must be something someone can do. That belief also goes by the name of Hope. My helplessness is dependent on their offer to do something. The 'fixing' is out of my hands, only the professionals can 'repair' me. I am afraid of stage 5, acceptance. What if I accept the reality of my life, the one that has to be only temporary, because really, how can such a pain be permanent? How can the disability be undoable?
What if I turned it around, changed it from making my body, in my case 'only' my eye, the offender, to creating the life that allows for the pain?
Acceptance requires a new philosophy. It means saying "Okay, I know the pain worsens when I ( ) so I will stop before it gets to the unstoppable level no matter what I am in the middle of doing. I will stop the habit of waiting until the pain becomes overwhelming". For me the changes are many: I will need to accept having to take more codeine, to change the way I take it even though that means taking more, and more often. It means taking control, saying outloud and to myself, as many times as necessary "This is the way it is, the longer the path to acceptance, the harder it is to make the changes I need to have a better life". By fighting the truth, I make my life harder.
I wrote all of the above yesterday afternoon. I went to choir rehearsal last night. I took extra codeine, my mouth becoming so dry I had trouble singing, my mind 'clouding', my attention wandering. The pain rose as we went from page to page, song to song. It's time to go home. I was at the level where I felt I could do no more eye work. The pain was not going to get better by using my eye more: hopeless. Unless I left I was refusing to help myself: helpless.
I wanted to be there, I wanted to sing. I wanted to be with the people, the learning, and yes, the fun. To do that, to fight the pain, to stay, meant refusing to accept the pain, to accept the limitations. I thought about what I had written earlier. Is this the way to acceptance? Or a do as I suggest, not as I do?
Each time I write a post I am writing about my experience but hopefully also yours, raising questions and ideas for all of us to consider. I keep thinking it will also force me to work at making the changes I need to make. And yet, what happens if I make the changes? The main thing I have in my life is the choir. If I do as I say above I have to go home early, I have to cut down on the thing that I most look forward to. Fear, not acceptance, stands in my way.
The more willing we are to accept that the pain, and what has done to our lives, is a loss, something that we need to accept and grieve the sooner we can get to the point where we control our life and the pain, and not vice versa. Hopefully, at some point, I can take these words to heart.