Editor’s Note: This post responds to requests made by readers who asked me to write about accepting chronic illness like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue and facing cancer as well as other physical challenges.
Like a bolt of lightning out of the blue, my health unexpectedly took a plunge 10 years ago. Muscle, joint, and neurological pain, gut distress, sleepless nights, fatigue, and multiple intolerances became my new companions. At my low point, I weighed 84 pounds.
I wish I could say I embraced this change gracefully. But, actually I fought it. My Virgo disposition turned on my obsessive solution-seeker. I spent most of my time in my head pouring over information in order to “fix it” instead of being present with the new me. A tough nut, it took me considerable time – years – to accept the unacceptable. And, I can’t even say that I’ve fully accepted it now, but I feel more at peace with it.
There will come a time in your life when the unacceptable arrives, too. That’s just how life is. The unwanted might appear as a serious illness, cheating spouse, job termination, death of a loved one, or in one of countless other possible ways. As much as you might try – like me – you cannot escape undesirable changes. But, if you’re willing to work consciously with whatever comes, the pain will gradually soften and you can find great strength in your vulnerability.
Here are some of my hard-won insights from living with chronic illness, which may also be relevant to other types of unexpected change that occurs. Let me warn you, none of what I share will be easy. You’ll probably want to cling to the past or a better future. I fully understand. But, I have every confidence that with time you’ll embrace the journey – your journey – that has been placed in front of you.