28 August 2014

The Courage of Acceptance

Life inevitably brings us pain -- physical and mental illnesses,  accidents, the "acts of God" noted in our insurance policies -- that we have neither chosen nor wanted. We have no control over the fact of these kinds of events and realities in our lives.

But we're not out of control over how we react to, how we handle life's inevitable pain. Here is where choice begins: when we have gone through and can get beyond our very natural inclination to deny or be angry or give up. Elizabeth Kubler Ross's  On Death and Dying made way for revolutionary and still fresh understanding of how humans handle grief. Her writings have been instrumental in teaching me how to understand, accept and deal with the emotions that come with having chronic migraine pain. (You can read my posts about this, here, here, and here.)

Compassionate understanding and acceptance of our own initial, grieving reaction help get us to a point of energy from which we can make constructive choices about how we deal with the situation.

A person dear to me who suffers from depression recently told me that mornings are his worst times. He'd spent hours after awakening, unable to move under the great weight holding him down. He was
Photo by William Marsh
regularly late to work and losing motivation. One morning he realized if he decided to do one thing -- like feeding the cat or vacuuming the floor -- and made himself get up to do it without planning for or looking beyond that one activity, he could get out of the bed. Getting the one thing done encouraged him to decide on the next thing. One thing at a time, one step at a time, he has chosen a way to combat the depression that could be crippling him.

I imagine his inner monologue on that morning he made a change might have gone something like this: Ok, I'm depressed again. Yet another morning of pain and paralysis. Am I going to lie here feeling sorry for myself? I gotta do something.

And he gets up to vacuum the floor. Seems small, doesn't it? Insignificant, the mundane stuff of an uninteresting life. Yet I believe the creative and constructive actions we take in the face of great pain are the essence of courage, of hope, of believing in the light even while enveloped in the dark.

And it starts with something simple like, ok, I'm depressed again. Acceptance.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

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