Friday, January 15, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

Living with a chronic illness, I struggle to not become bitter and despondent about my condition. It would be so easy to think about all the things I’ve lost (job, hobbies, social life) and get angry about the unfairness of it all. And then when I look ahead to a future where I am able to do less and less, I can quite easily give in to despair and hopelessness. I could live in this morass of darkness without any effort at all.

BUT - I don’t let myself go down that path. I don’t want to be a bitter, angry person, going through life complaining about how awful I have it all. Yet, the reality of my situation cannot be ignored. My illness is there, looming over every facet of my life. It is the proverbial elephant in the room. The elephant dominates everything - it gets in the way of me doing the simplest chore, making said chore become a huge physical challenge. It stands in the middle of the room, blocking my way to events and activities, keeping me trapped in my chair. It’s a big, stinky, immovable object, smack dab in the middle of my life!! 

I think we all know people who are struggling with hard things in life, but are so overwhelmed by them that they spend all their time telling you how awful their life is. They are bitter, angry,  unhappy people. I don’t want to be like that. Now, I’m not trying to say that when life throws you a curve-ball you should just plug your ears and sing, “La la la la - I can’t hear you!” When bad things happen, get mad, get angry! You should!! But don’t make your bed there and spend the rest of your life going over and over how bad things are and how unfair life is. You will make yourself miserable, and make those around you miserable, too! Who wants to live like that? Not me!

I do not want my illness to dominate my attitude. Despite the fact of its existence and power, I refuse to let it rule me. I acknowledge its presence and how it has forced me to change my life accordingly. BUT I REFUSE TO LET IT OVERPOWER MY SPIRIT. No, I can’t deny what it is and what it has done to my life, but I’m not going to make it my focus, or allow it to ruin what I have left in life. It is simply a fact of my life, and I need to make peace with it. It’s not that I pretend it’s not there - that would be impossible. I just try to live as best I can, in spite of the elephant in the room.

So, yes, I’m ill and disabled. (Hello, Elephant!) But there is more to me than my physical body, and I choose to live that life to its fullest. Naturally, I have to make accommodations for the elephant in the room (I’ve had to drastically rearrange the furniture of my life!), but I will not let the elephant destroy my happiness. I refuse to let it be the focus of my life! And, really, if you add some lovely draperies to it, an elephant can really spruce up a room! ;-)