Gradually, I felt more and more like my old self. I was elated. I can’t even describe it. Not only was my body healing, but my spirituality had deepened.
It might sound corny, but I believed God had a Plan for me and that lyme disease was a part of it. This faith ebbed and flowed throughout the sickness, but now that my body was feeling better and my thoughts were gaining a new clarity, it was easier to see.
God pounded some sense into me – along with AA and my sponsor. Here’s a short list that could go on forever of what I learned:
1. Assertiveness – it was always far beyond my comfort level to get pushy with doctors. I had to. I had to. I like to think they know more than me. I feel like it’s out of my league to try and push them to do more when they’re reluctant. Who do I think I am? I learned that I know what I’m feeling from the inside out. They do NOT.
2. Empathy – I never had much empathy for people with physical issues. I thought I did. I was very sorry when they complained. What I didn’t realize was that I was sorry they were pissmoaning to me about their problems and I wasn’t sorry that they weren’t feeling well. Now that I had something to identify with, I am far more interested in other people’s ordeals. I also found ways to stay off the pity pot by getting out of myself more and asking people how THEY are doing. This, too, cultivated empathy and a deeper interest in my fellow man.
3. Getting off the pity pot – See above. Or see the other entry I have in this blog titled “Being a Real MOTHER on Mother’s Day.”
4. Faith – In AA step three reads: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” This is the essence of faith, unconditional faith. This step, when done perfectly, is done unconditionally. Sure, we alcoholics usually have conditions. We’ll turn our will and our lives over to God, but not … our kids. Not … our careers. Not …. our finances. For me? I wrestled with surrendering my health to God. This being sick business beat some sense into me.
I have a refrigerator magnet that says “Faith is belief that when there is no solid ground to stand on, that I’ll be taught to fly.” I was taught to fly.
5. Adapting – I had to learn to live like this. There was so much involved in this. SO much.
6. Living Life One Day at a Time – Yes. YES. Perhaps you’re moaning. Another AA cliche. I used to roll my eyes at them, too. But this was life or death for me when I quit drinking. Now it was a life skill I needed to get through a tough time. I did FINE with being practically crippled if it was just for 24 hours. When I started looking over my shoulder and seeing that months and years amassed, I’d be a wreck. If I looked too far ahead to a salvation that may never come or a permanence to this condition, I’d be anxious or bitter … or something. Going through life’s up’s and down’s just for 24 hours is so much easier.
7. Asking for Help – My pride always forbade this. Lyme disease made it necessary. I learned that to ask for help is not a weakness, but a strength!
8. Honesty – I had to be honest with others about how I was feeling – mostly in AA. Telling people I was “fine” and smiling wasn’t doing me a great service. It also prevented me from really bonding with other people. It prevented me from receiving other people’s care and love. I didn’t get into the whole nuts and bolts, the pain and the fatigue. But I had a safe forum to talk about the feelings about it – the fear, the despair, the anger, the sadness …. Again. This made a transformation from being a weakness to a strength.
9. I’m Not Handicapped! – I had to learn that with these disabilities I had/have/had/have had, it was no excuse to just lay down and let it happen. I had to work harder to do some things than other people. I had to take more time doing things than other people. I had to keep plugging along.
10. I’m not a Victim – This isn’t bad luck. It’s not misfortune. God isn’t out to get me. Why me? Well? Why NOT me? Why should this happen to someone else? It is what it is. This took vigilance on my part.
In April 2009, I was promoted to a case manager at work, but I was transferred to the individual’s shelter. I loved it. It’s a tough crowd, but it’s a crowd that I care about (and I still work there). There was more money. It was full time. There were benefits. It was more like a career than a job. Things were gelling.
In April 2009, I saw the specialist. She liked what she saw. She graduated me.