“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.”-Michael J. Fox
It’s been 9 months since my diagnosis. 9 months of this “new” life with these new “rules” and “restrictions” (more of like what I like to call barriers and more barriers!). You’d think that someone would start to adapt to something after 9 months. After all, they say it only takes 30-90 days to form a habit.
A new month will pass by and I’ll find myself contemplating whether I really have been quite able to adapt to this new lifestyle appropriately. I compare myself to others in similar situations, assessing whether they’ve found themselves on such a confusing emotional journey as well.
It feels like there are parts of me stuck in pre-diagnosis and parts that have been left behind to pick up the pieces. On a daily basis, I get by fairly well at finding the balance of these that I often am not even aware that they both exist. Problem is that every so often, they become so uneven that I’m caught wondering how to balance them back out towards the end goal of acceptance.
It reminds me quite a lot of Freud’s classic Id, Ego, and Super-Ego that make up one’s personality.
Id-The Pleasure Principle
There are parts of me that want to go on living however I want to without having to incur any obstacles or changes. These parts want to flee..run for the hills. They want to go on vacations, endless vacations. They want to have every “free” hour occupied from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep. They want to have late nights out with friends. They want to go to vineyards and breweries. They want to indulge in sweet treats and hefty 3 course meals. They want to spend long days on the beach and cold nights outdoors. They want to do everything for everyone. Show up every time someone requests. Follow through on every invite they’ve initiated. They want to see things, anything they can get their eyes on, anything they can wrap their fingers around. They never ever want to stop.
Ego-The Reality Principle
There are the parts of me that say, “But you know that will be too much.” “You know you will most likely get sick.” “You know that’s risky.” “Is it worth the moment of happiness for the length of recovery needed afterwards?” These parts try to find the middle ground where both agendas can be accomplished: Where I can enjoy myself, my life, others, yet still be aware of my restrictions and adaptations.
Sounds simple enough if one were to just follow this line of thinking, where’s the problem? Well, in comes the superego.
Super ego-Perfecting our Behavior/Rules & Standards for Good Behavior
There’s the parts of me that are angry, resentful, frustrated. The parts that don’t quite feel like they should have to concede to the illness. The parts that don’t believe a middle ground should have to exist. The part that truly believes that I should be able to live as freely as I’d like to. Then, also, the parts of me that are taught that I should still be able to be there for everyone, rain or shine, without excuses, because that’s what you do when you love and care for someone. The parts of me that hide the obstacles or challenges that are foreseeable, just to minimize rocking the boat for someone else. Then the parts of me that feel guilt when I try as hard as I can, but I just still cannot live up to these ideal standards.
I leave it here for you to question: What would acceptance truly look like for those with a chronic illness? Would it mean that they let their ID rule and allow themselves pleasurable things despite their illness? Would it be that they always followed the middle path and played it safe to avoid any risk of sickness? Would it look like they surrendered to the idea that they’ll always have feelings of guilt, resentment, and anger?
9 months in and I still am unsure of when acceptance will be achieved.
Until then, I’m still just trying to find the way through it.