Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Finding Contentment.....

I am discovering little bits of contentment in my caregiving experience. Talking with a friend recently, I realized that it has been a very L-O-N-G process for me. I've been in this caregiving role for ten years now, and just recently have I found that I am dealing a bit better with the limitations in my life.

Maybe I've finally accepted the fact that this IS our life. I am not going to wake up and find that it's a bad dream. My Dear Hubby will never experience physical healing (aside from miraculous intervention by the Lord). I've accepted the fact that things aren't getting easier, for him or for me. This disease WILL progress and the needs will become greater and the burden will become heavier. Bad or good, it is true. And, for some strange reason, today, this does not depress me.

Elisabeth Elliot says, "In acceptance lies peace." Perhaps, after ten years, I have begun to accept what has happened to my husband, to me, to our family, to our future, to our marriage, to our ministry, etc.

We all deal with things differently, and evidently, we pass through the stages of grief at different rates. Remember reading them??

  • Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
  • Anger (why is this happening to me?)
  • Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
  • Depression (I don't care anymore)
  • Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

Thinking back over the past ten years, I'm pretty sure that I spent WAY too much time in the anger stage. I knew there was no bargaining with MS or with God, so yeah, bargaining was going to get me no where. But, I found anger to be the one I wallowed in...... well, anger and depression.

I've spent a lot of time wondering why. Not so much why did it happen, but more along the lines of the why did the details of it happen. Why at such a young age? Why when our children were still young? Why do I feel like an alien, and so all alone? Why is there no one who understands what we're going through? Why do people forsake you? Why can't we get help? Lots and lots of whys.....and all these whys were because of an underlying anger I had toward MS. I hated it, and I was mad.

I was mad at the symptoms. I was mad at the way MS invaded every area of our life. I was mad at people who got to live the life I was supposed to be living. I was mad at the way our children were robbed of their dad's hands on involvement. I was mad at the clueless, hurtful words said to us. I was angry at those who just didn't get it. I was just plain angry. And most of the time I called it hurt. I was just hurt by friends, by my church, by family members, by total strangers.

Yeah, it was bad.

And, maybe now I am learning to accept the limitations, the isolation, and the restrictions. And, I'm learning that it's not all bad. Maybe that's where "finding the good" has helped. Finding little joys on the journey. Like rounding a corner and finding a scenic overview. Like driving through a thunderstorm and being rewarded with a rainbow. Finding a song amid the noise. Seeing a flower bloom between the cracks of cement. Unexpected little pleasures.

A cup of coffee with a friend, the songs of birds, laughter shared, seeing compassion grow in your heart for others who are hurting, blue skies, a baby's smile, a young child's antics, a phone call from a dear friend, an encouraging word from a friend who is going through something much more difficult than you are, a kind deed from a stranger, and hand reaching out to hold yours. I'm beginning to see that life, overall, is still good, even though it is difficult.

I've had to adapt my lifestyle to fit the needs of my husband and while it can feel smothering, or limited, or perhaps restrictive, I have found a little slice of contentment. I have found that I like keeping my hands and my mind busy, that listening to music soothes my soul, making quilts and being creative calms me, opening my home and loving people keeps me connected and whispers of praise and thanksgiving to my Creator keep my heart focused on Him.

I've found that anger makes me ungrateful. That it shuts my heart and spirit to learning. That it causes me to be unpleasant and chases the people I love away. I leads to unkind words and thoughtless deeds. It tears down relationships and kills love. It robs and steals and destroys.

So, I am seeking acceptance. I'm taking it in and saying, Teach me Lord.


Megan said...

I can definitely identify although I think more with the depression phase than anger. I just became numb for a very long time. When I finally snapped to the pain was definitely there again but oh how sweet the little things are!! Sharing laughter with a friend, playing at the park with a little one, even being silly and playing video games mean SO MUCH more. I pray every day God won't let me block all of the happiness of life out just for the sake of forgetting the pain.

The Calico Quilter said...

Dear Paula, you have absolutely hit the nail on the head in describing how I have felt for the last several years. Our problem is not MS, but it is chronic and incurable and draining. And while I sometimes feel smothered by day to day trials, now I have a new health concern of my own to deal with, which has doubled my burden. Thank you for your words, because in them I can know that others are experiencing this too, feel less isolated and get a measure of peace.