Monday, September 1, 2008

Tsk, Tsk, Tsk!

When I began downshifting my life in an effort to get well, there were two things that drove me crazy about dealing with other people.

First, I wish they would have realized how much I struggled to make each and every little decision to start living well. Working an hour less, taking a nap in the afternoon, or skipping a social engagement may have seemed like a no-brainer, but those decisions didn't come so easily to me. In fact, every effort seemed like a major sacrifice - and I didn't appreciate or enjoy having to make any of them. No one likes to change their way of life, and I resented the fact that I had to reconfigure parts of mine to accommodate for Lupus. I knew deep down that those little decisions would, in the end, help temper my disease activity, so I forced myself to make them. But I really struggled with the fact that people around me couldn't or wouldn't acknowledge the effort I was making.

Two, I wish those around me would have realized that their suggestions to "quit working, take it easy, or not overdo" often felt more like criticism than encouragement. Their admonishments felt like a direct attack on my ability to manage my own life, and I was disheartened rather than empowered by their comments. In his book, And Never Stop Dancing, Gordon Livingston says,
"To assume that people have within themselves the capacity to decide what is best for them is a vote of confidence." That is exactly what people were missing, and it drove me crazy.

And yet - as strongly as I felt about these two aspects of my interrelations with others, I have failed to heed my own advice.

This past weekend, my mom came to visit. While we had a fabulous time preparing the nursery for Baby Bun (making curtains, finding a changing table, preparing the crib), I wasn't able to hold my tongue about the subsequent changes in lifestyle she's had to make due to a triple by-pass surgery she had a few years back. She had another scare this past spring, and as badly as I want her to make good, healthy choices (regarding diet, exercise, sleep, etc), I need to remember just how hard it is to make those big lifestyle changes. It may seem easy to me - after all, why wouldn't she do that which is needed in order to be around as long as possible? But change is never easy - I know that first-hand.

On top of that, it can't make her feel any better when I constantly make suggestions about how she should change her life. What she needs is to hear how much I support her, how much I believe in her ability to make those good decisions, and how great it is that she's made the strides she has.

When I was struggling, that's what I needed and wanted more than anything. It's only fair that I try and do the same for her.

So there you go - slap me on the wrist, because I deserve it. Let's hope I don't make the same mistake again!

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