On the heels of Wednesday's post, here's a little snippet from my book, "Despite Lupus." This excerpt comes from chapter 7, Letting Go for Good. Enjoy!
Making the decision to start letting go is a big one. It’s a huge step toward understanding, coping with and conquering your disease. Visions of a pain-free, fulfilling life should be clearer than they were before. If they are, consider yourself within close range of your objective. Before we get into the logistics of making the changes that accompany this decision, there are three minor points that should be addressed so you can permanently live well with your disease:
1) DISTINGUISH BETWEEN VOLUNTARY AND INVOLUNTARY
Picture the following scenario:
You’ve had a terrible day. You dragged your aching body into the office early, worked through lunch and dealt with one irate client after another. You just spent the last hour rehashing their complaints to your boss, making you late for your evening’s agenda of dinner with out-of-town friends. Your head is pounding, your joints are throbbing, and you can feel painful swelling beginning to take shape. Physically, you want to collapse on the floor of your office and wake up in three days. Instead, you mentally prepare to wear your pain-free “game face” for the evening. As you’re frantically heading out of the office, your husband calls to let you know that something’s come up and your friends aren’t going to be able to make it tonight. He tells you to just head for home. He’s ordered take-out for the two of you, and it will be ready and waiting when you get there. Relieved that the only thing you’re destined for tonight is a relaxing, restful evening at home, you tidy up your desk and head home.
Caught a break, didn’t you? You got lucky, and you know it. You were able to dodge yet another evening of pain, suffering, and overdoing, although the majority of your day wasn’t very pleasant. If this was catching a break, think for a moment what taking a break would have involved. What would have happened if you had: evaluated whether an extra hour of sleep would have been more beneficial than rushing in to get an early start at the office, taken a break for a nutritious lunch, asked your boss if you could fill him in first thing in the following morning, and/or voluntarily canceled your dinner plans? It would have been an entirely different kind of day. It might have been a lot less painful and lot more manageable.
Acknowledging the difference between getting a break from your hectic, demanding lifestyle and taking one comes down to one simple thing: you. Every day, you have the power to decide how painful the day is going to be. I know you can’t control lupus, but you can control your willingness to adapt to it.
For example, although grabbing a catnap when you’re tired might not sound daunting, consider that the act of sleeping isn’t the difficult part. It’s allowing yourself the time to get the extra rest in the first place. Take a weekend when you find yourself with an hour to spare. Would you voluntarily take a nap? No, you’d rather catch up on errands or projects around the house. However, what if someone in your family insisted that you take an hour to rest and relax? What if they went so far as to dim the lights, pull the shades in your bedroom and turn down the sheets on your bed? What if they ushered you under the covers and tucked you in nice and tight so that you felt warm and cozy? Do you think you could manage a wink or two? I bet you could.
Furthermore, if someone in your family insisted on doing the laundry or vacuuming, could you comply? And, what if your boss prohibited you from taking on any additional projects at work? Could you handle it? Probably so. Situations like these are no-brainers. But voluntarily doing so? That’s a different story. Once you realize how much you’re relying on those involuntary moments to save you from yourself, you can begin to willfully (and of your own accord) make those decisions for yourself. You must enable yourself to make smart, responsible, deliberate decisions and allow yourself to start letting go, voluntarily.