When flitting around the interwebs, I notice many Autoimmuners talk about being robbed of a good life and how stunningly useless they feel. These feelings never go away, but one thing that helps control them is learning to accept imperfections in everything. One almost has to change their entire way of thinking to view those imperfections as beautiful. I have really been thinking about this concept lately, and how it really has made my life much better since its implementation. Think about it! If everyone was perfect, they would all be boring. It is those quirks and oddities that make us who we are. So why not apply this to our illnesses and life to take the stress out?
Living with any chronic illness immediately places limitations on what we can do. As humans, we puff up and challenge this until we realize these circumstances are beyond our control. There are going to be things that just happen for no reason that nothing can fix – regardless of how many servings of green leafies, or vitamins, or exercise you indulge in. While those things can help, they do not cure. In my experience, the sooner one accepts these, the sooner they can begin to learn how to actually LIVE. Limitations are a form of imperfection. One specific thing about limitations here – be sure the ones you have are not ones you are placing on yourself. Yeah, you know exactly what I am talking about. So be OKAY with taking longer, embrace it. Be OKAY with seeing it from the road – because at least you have seen it! Be OKAY with the smaller things and learn to love those little things that most people overlook. Hmmmmm. Kind of like the Autoimmuner community gets overlooked. When my hands really became deformed and I couldn’t hold the brush still enough to paint, I got very sad for a couple of weeks. Then I outlined the flowers I had painted in black with haphazard strokes, and actually liked it. Now, it is a new painting style that doesn’t depend on my dexterity! Without that experience, I would have spent my time focusing on trying to get the details as perfect as possible! Now, I don’t sweat it.
People are also a significant source of stress for Autoimmuners. From the family that has no clue to the judgemental medical community, we tend to have the most difficulty getting people to take us seriously. I know it will be hard, but try to see their imperfections as beautiful. Understand the culture that we have grown up in, and how it has influenced these people’s attitudes towards the disabled in general. If you are in a scooter, it is because you are fat (couldn’t have lupus or be on steroids, right??!!) If you dramatize the pain, you would be just fine (nevermind that bones are being digested.) Besides, this is just arthritis and no one has ever died from that right? Okay – so you see all these ideas floating around. No wonder people are stupid about this. Admit it or not, there are things we are absolutely ignorant about too. We learn through experience. Educate. Learn to get excited so you can share your experience. That person may well be a jackass, but at least the idea is there. Also know that it is absolutely impossible for a healthy person to relate, so just educate the best you can. People can only relate to the worst pain they have ever been in, so most people think we are talking about a stubbed toe or broken bone sensation. All other jackass encounters, blame on “that is just how they are” and move on. The biggest area this can be applied to is partnership though. If your partner doesn’t throw their socks in the hamper, be OKAY with that. If the dishes aren’t always clean – THIS IS PERFECTLY FINE! Don’t complain about things that aren’t worth losing a marriage or partner over. If you want someone to be forgiving of your imperfections, be forgiving of theirs!
Applying these concepts has really helped me to cope with any snags AA decides to throw my way. Some are more difficult than others, but I find without this technique, I’d go nuts. At this point in my life, I don’t have the energy to focus into worrying, or feeling bad. It is what it is and I cannot change this disease, but I can make it difficult for it to bring me down mentally. This life lesson is truly an important one, and can take a long time to learn. If you are the type that learns from other’s mistakes – than learn to embrace the world’s imperfections as beauty!