God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
The Serenity Prayer is so beautiful and simple. And yet so difficult.
I grew up believing that my life would be what I would make of it. I could decide what I wanted to be, do, or have and make it so. I had the power of self-determination. I had the strength of will. I had the courage and intelligence.
And guess what. So much of my life is not what I chose.
I'm not going to write about the courage to change things; that's a whole topic in itself.
I've been pondering the idea of accepting things. How long do I beat my head against the wall trying to change the nature of the wall? All that happens is that my head hurts.
Which brings me to my ponderings. While there are many things that are beyond my ability to change in my life, the one I'm struggling with right now is my health. How long do I fight what is? And how much do I miss out on because I am fighting? Is there power in accepting things the way they are and making the proverbial lemonade from lemons? Where is the line between accepting what I cannot change and giving up?
This July it will be five years that I have had a continuous headache. In the same spot every minute of every day. It strengthens and weakens in intensity, but it's always there.
When I first got it, I waited for it to pass. When I realized it wouldn't, I began to fight it. I went to doctors of every kind. I had every test anyone could think of. I had my eyes checked. My teeth checked. I changed my diet. I tried alternative interventions. And I spent lots and lots of money.
Each new idea brought hope. This will be the one.
And each new idea brought disappointment. That wasn't the one.
It's so hard to keep letting yourself hope and continually have those hopes dashed. I try a few things, decide I can't take it anymore, and quit trying for a while. I just live with things as they are and try to function. Time passes and someone comes up with another idea. I just heard about this and you have to try it. And it makes sense, so I do. No good.
And, as silly as it sounds, each time something doesn't make me feel better I feel a little guilty. I feel like I'm not trying hard enough or I would feel better. I feel like I am disappointing the one who suggested it and have let them down.
I am also at about nine years of chronic fatigue. Yet another situation that has no proof to anyone but me, that can't be shown through medical tests, and that has no real cure. Great. (And yes, there are people who don't believe me.)
I would never have chosen either of these things. But I have grown from them. I have gained a greater appreciation for the little things. I have been able to better focus my energies on what matters, since those energies are so limited.
Am I grateful for them? Occasionally. I think that "grateful for suffering" thing comes when the suffering ends.
And while I still have times of disappointment, when I get down about where my life is, the best days happen when I accept what it is now and move on. When I don't dream about what could be, but live the dream that is.