January has felt like quite a difficult month. The thing I longed for most in the world at Christmas time was break from feeling so exhausted. Realistically I knew that was unlikely to happen, that Chronic Fatigue doesn’t take holidays, but I think there was a little part of me hoping for the miraculous to happen. So when it didn’t, when I returned to work after Christmas feeling even more exhausted than before, I was frustrated and disappointed.
There are situations in my life that I wish I could change. My health is not where I want it to be. If I’m really honest I am loosing faith that I will be able to get it to where I want it to be. And my confidence at work has taken another knock, and my emotions are quickly ranging from frustration, self-doubt, sadness and guilt. I have learnt once again that in the real world you don’t get marks for effort. And I’ll admit it is pretty hard to bounce back from the knocks when you’re just so exhausted to start off with.
I think I am going through a period of grieving at the moment. I am grieving for the energy and health I have lost, grieving for the future I want that seems perpetually just out of grasp, grieving for the days that have been lost and will be lost in a cloud of exhaustion.
I have been avidly watching the latest series of Sherlock and one particular piece of dialogue struck a chord in the second episode. After a particularly emotional episode, Sherlock embraces John and says”It’s Okay” and John retorts “It’s not okay”. Sherlock replies “No, but it is what it is”.
I suppose if I’m going to be real with myself I’m not especially okay at the moment. The situations I’m struggling with health wise and otherwise are not okay. Sure I can make plans and try to make changes to make them better in the future. But that won’t make them okay right now. And that can be painful to accept.
We are taught to avoid pain at all costs. From a young age we learn to mask it and cover it up. We hide behind busyness and distraction, barely giving ourselves a moment to stop and think. We try to make it better, papering over our own and other’s pain with platitudes and bible verses.We are afraid of what it really means to sit with the pain inside us, to allow ourselves to feel it, to admit that we are hurting.
We need hope, we need not to loose ourselves in the darkness and hurt. But too often we force ourselves and others to move too quickly from the pain into the hope-filled chorus. We pretend we’ve reached our destination when really we’re still stumbling around in the dark.
Our pain, anguish and confusion demands to be felt. It needs to be experienced, worked through and brought to God. We can be too scared to trust him with the broken parts of ourselves. We forget that he knows us already. He knows us and everything we are going through, knows when the words we are saying do not reflect what’s going on inside. He is not a God afraid of our pain and our questions. In not openly and honestly bringing our pain to him we loose the opportunity to deepen our relationship with him and increase our trust in who he is.
I have a choice to make. I can either ignore these feelings and circumstances, try and find the right combination of words to make myself feel better. I can practice denial and avoidance, with a heavy dose of fake confidence. Or I can journey through the pain to arrive each day at acceptance.
Acceptance isn’t the same as giving up. It doesn’t mean things can’t or won’t change. But finding acceptance gives me the freedom to experience the moment as it is, without the weight of frustration and disappointment. It leaves my eyes open to find the little joys even on the hard days.
I have to learn to accept each day as it is now without loosing hope that tomorrow may be different.