Sometimes, we need to come back to a foundational practice, one which I’ve learned is just that—a daily practice. I’m talking about acceptance, one of the most powerful tools we ChronicBabes have for staying AWAP.
When someone asks for my secret to thriving, I usually respond with “acceptance”
I was talking to a loved one earlier today, and he thoughtfully asked if I was out of my flare-up yet. The way he put it, actually, was “are you feeling as well as possible?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“So you’re not having as much pain as a few days ago, I take it?”
“Well, actually I have more. But I’m still AWAP,” I said.
A brief moment of quiet passed between us. “But you were traveling last week—didn’t the pain keep you from going?” he asked.
“No, I mean…the way I figure it, I’m either going to hurt at home alone, or hurt in a fun vacation house with 10 friends, so I still went on the trip.”
Another moment of quiet.
“If you figure out the secret to being AWAP even when you’re hurting so much, be sure to share it,” he asked.
“It’s acceptance, all the way.”
But what is acceptance?
Acceptance is all about getting real with all the things that ail you, and looking them right in the eye and saying “I see you, ailments. I know you are not going away, or if you are, I have no control over when that will happen… but I’m not going to let you stop me.”
It’s about saying the serenity prayer on the regular: “God (or Goddess, or Universe, or…), grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to changes the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Acceptance is not letting yourself Google the same symptoms over and over and over post-diagnosis, hoping to find a new “fix” and driving yourself crazy.
The practice includes asking for help when you need it, even if it’s more help than usual, and not apologizing for needing help.
Acceptance is allowing yourself time to grieve because this shit is super hard.
Practicing acceptance means doing all your regular check-ups even when your calendar is crowded with other health care appointments, because you know neglecting things like your teeth or your boobies could mean developing EVEN MORE health issues and who needs that?
Acceptance is not trying to recreate the wheel every day. Instead, it’s creating routines that take into account all your needs, so you can do all that’s possible to make the most of your day each day even if you’re hurting or flaring up.
It’s knowing that even if you feel like you’ve got it together one day, you may feel awful the next; that’s not failure. That’s just life. Each day, you can begin acceptance practice again.
Acceptance is all of this, and so much more.
How do you begin to put acceptance into practice each day, as you live with chronic illness or chronic pain?
I believe that acceptance is something we have to keep striving for…and that eventually, it doesn’t feel like a ton of work, but instead, feels like we’re making small adjustments each day.
In the beginning with my chronic illnesses, I felt like each day had a steep learning curve—like I was re-learning each day how to live in my body, and that meant mourning, and flailing, and a lot of figuring it out. It was hard to feel any sense of acceptance. But after a while, once I had built in daily routines that soothed my soul and my senses, acceptance became more of a daily check-in with myself:
“How are you doing today?”
“Not ideal, but nothing is worse, and I have a plan.”
“Cool! Keep at it. If something changes, remember all the tools you have.”
And then on really bad days, I give myself some time to mourn (ten-minute pity party, anyone?!) and then I try to adjust back to my position of acceptance:
“Wow, today is really sucky!”
“I know, right?! I’m trying so hard to accept but this seems so unfair.”
“It is, girl. You’re allowed to have a little time to be pissed or sad. But then it’s important to come back to what you know: You’re always in flux, and you never have control over it all.”
“Yeah, that’s a good reminder. I’ll to bust out my best flare-up coping tools today. It will probably be better again tomorrow, or in a few days, right?”
“Probably. It’s best to focus on today, what you’re able to do, what you appreciate, and what soothes you.”
These inner conversations are part of what I do every day to keep coming back to acceptance. It’s not a thing we work at and achieve; it’s a thing our bodies will give us daily opportunities to practice.