June 19, 2014
I make a really lousy sick person. Honestly, I almost embarrass myself. I have two extremes. The first is to gear up and go into uber-control mode. I take every home-remedy I know to work, I refuse to change my life at all, and I keep barreling forward as if my good efforts will be helpful and healing. If that doesn’t work, which it didn’t last week, (although it does often enough to reinforce that behavior), then I go into mode two: depressed, despondent, despairing. Oh, this is awful. What am I going to do? My whole life will now fall apart and my business will never recuperate. I see everyone else as healthy and pity my little sick self even more. Why am I sick? And then I got grumpy,
grumpy because last week because my husband and I were sick at the same time which has never happened to us in 32 years of marriage. His 102* fever and bronchial cough spasms trumped my low-grade fever and viral congestion, and I did the right thing and helped him even though I felt like a piece of doggie poop. I was not Nurse Sunshine when I handed him his next round of antibiotics, ibuprofen, tussin, and orange juice.
Why am I writing about this? Because it is a great example of how not to accept reality. I often ask my clients this very important question: What is real? And the next important question: What will be the most helpful way for you to deal with this? It does no good to deny reality. If I can will myself well, that’s great. But when another reality pushes through and I just don’t like it, it does absolutely no good to sulk, whine, or grouse about it. I am sure, in fact, that it makes me sicker. I tried to be gracious, at least a few times. I reminded myself that I am so rarely sick that I need to accept this limited episode with gratitude for my general good health. I thought about all the people in the world who have chronic illnesses and feel awful every day. I prayed for people with mental illnesses who suffer real depression and not my whiny, pouty version of it. I asked for the faith to know that I am not indispensable and that everyone can do without me for a few days.
Accepting reality involves a beautiful dance between surrender, embrace, and creative response. I think I was forced to surrender, but I did a poor job of embracing my reality and an even poorer job of responding in a creative way. Maybe if I had used my energy differently, my husband and I could have curled up in front of the fire and watched a good movie together, passing the tissues and cough drops, and sipping hot toddies. At least that would have been civil.
Amy Sander Montanez, D.Min,
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