“You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and and the grace of years.” – Cheryl Strayed
One thing that I spend a lot of my time thinking about are life lessons that I need to learn. When I first became ill, I had to learn the lesson that life is not going to look like I had thought it would. That doesn’t mean it will not be a good life, but it will definitely be different. That was a lesson that took a long time. That is the thing with lessons. Some are learned quickly, and others can take a lot of time. Everyone has lessons to learn in life. The ones that seem to challenge who we are, can be the hardest to swallow and accept their benefit.
I remember my last major relapse that put me out of the workforce. The short version of that story, is that I had activity in my disease that appeared as anxiety and depression. I was a shell of myself and could not get out of the deep hole I found myself in. That led me to seek out a psychiatrist and psychologist. I clearly remember my psychologist asking me if I could see the positive in this relapse, as it had forced me to slow down and re-evaluate what was important to me in life. I replied with a resounding “NO!” While I was in it, slowing down and potentially not working in a field that I loved was not something I could look at as positive at all. What I identified with as a woman, was being career-driven and one who lived a fast paced life. It took a long time for me to realize that I was putting my health at grave risk and when I really looked at what was important to me in life, it was having close relationships with family and friends. Sometimes we have to take a deep dive into what is meaningful to us to have fulfillment in our lives.
The hardest lesson that I have been working on is a two-part lesson. Trust and patience. I am always having conversations with myself about letting go and trusting that things will work out and that there is a bigger plan. That is when patience comes into the equation. I do alright with trust until it takes too long for my liking. Then I start to question everything because things haven’t worked out in the time line I had envisioned. I find it easier to explain things if I use examples. I am trying to watch what I eat right now and to lose some weight. Everything is going well and I feel like I am losing and no problems. Until I have a few days when I don’t, Then all bets are off. Why isn’t this working? I won’t ever lose the weight I want to. I thought I wold have lost 15 pounds by now. This is a very simplified example. The funny thing is that if I had lost the 15 pounds I had set out to, I would have changed the rules and said “Why haven’t I lost 20?” This is why this is a lesson that I struggle with. I trust at first that I will lose the weight until I lose patience that it is not happening fast enough. This seems to be an overarching theme in my life.
Today I read something that really made me think about my difficulty with this life lesson that I truly want to conquer. The article asked to think about what this lesson unlearned has taught me. What purpose does it serve? People don’t do things unless there is some benefit to us. Why am I holding on to this need for control? What is the cost to let it go and move on? This is something that I will be spending some time thinking about. Sometimes we have to give credit to the thing that we are holding on to. Maybe if I had more patience and waited longer I wouldn’t have pushed to explore new medications and treatments.
Just like the last lesson, to see the good in slowing down and re-evaluating my life, maybe we just need to wait for the right time to learn the lesson. Now, if someone asks me if I see the silver-lining of my last relapse I would answer “Absolutely.” I love my new found life where I have time to paint, help others and write this blog. I love the time I have to spend with friends and family and really listen to what they are saying. Perhaps patience and trust will be learned when it is time. That is one of the things I love about aging. How much more we learn about ourselves and life. I could never have learned these lessons I am dealing with at 43 when I was 20. I didn’t have the life experience or the perspective.
We will all get there. Don’t be too hard on yourself if there are lessons that you are resistant to learning. Maybe ask yourself why you think that is and what benefit it is serving you to hold on to these traits. Maybe patience and trust is something that only my 50 year old self will understand.