4 November 2012

Day 4: Already broken

This prompt is from Day 2, but I'm probably going to be jumping around a lot anyway. I don't always have anything to say on the fixed prompts, but the important thing is to blog something.
Find a quote and use it as inspiration
This reminds me of something I've wanted to write about for a while. It's a story I first read in Toni Bernhard's How to Be Sick, but it's an ancient Buddhist parable.
A clear broken drinking glass on a grayish white background.
You say, "Don't break my glass!" Can you prevent something that's breakable from breaking? If it doesn't break now it will break later on. If you don't break it, someone else will. If someone else doesn't break it, one of the chickens will! The Buddha says to accept this. He penetrated the truth of these things, seeing that this glass is already broken. Whenever you use this glass you should reflect that it's already broken. Do you understand this? The Buddha's understanding was like this. He saw the broken glass within the unbroken one. Whenever its time is up it will break. Develop this kind of understanding. Use the glass, look after it, until when, one day, it slips out of your hand... "Smash!" ... no problem. Why is there no problem? Because you saw its brokenness before it broke!
I'm going to tell a story about my mother. When I was in high school, my mother got sick and never got better. It was many years before we learned it was fibromyalgia. I graduated more than twenty years ago, so she's been sick now for longer than that. And in all that time, she's never stopped rebelling against her illness and fighting to get better. She gets that from her father, who fought against cancer for close to twenty years (Maybe longer? I'm not good with dates.) after he was told to say his goodbyes. For him, that fighting spirit added years to his life and many many happy memories with his family. And perhaps that fighting spirit adds some quality to my mother's life that she needs. But it also adds a lot of suffering, because every day she spends wishing she were a "real girl" again, as she puts it, is a day that she's unable to accept her life the way it is.

I was diagnosed with ME in 2008. I was both relieved and scared. Relieved because I finally had a name for what was wrong with me, and scared because I didn't know enough about it to know just how bad it was. I went home and spent some time on Google. I read somewhere in my searching that only 5% of ME patients experience a full recovery. I realized I was probably going to be sick for a long time, maybe for life. I think I went from diagnosis to the first steps to acceptance within a few days. I certainly had times after that, where I cried or raged or simply whined about how it's unfair, but in general, I've accepted it.

So why was I able to accept in days what my mother hasn't been able to accept in decades? I think the answer is in the broken glass story. You see, when I was a little girl, I had cancer. It was removed surgically and never recurred, but for years I was going to hospitals and doctors regularly to be examined. Since all this happened in childhood, I believe it helped form my own mental picture of myself, and along with various other characteristics, I began to self-identify as a "sick person" from a very young age. I knew, somewhere inside, that I was already broken. My mother still sees herself as that whole and perfect glass, and resents the breakage.

I don't think I'm a better person for accepting what my mother still fights against, and there are probably some people who think her struggle is nobler than my acquiescence. But I do think that acceptance of being already broken has given me peace and made it easier to bear being ill. 

Dear Mom: I hope you don't mind me talking about you in this post! <3 you for always!
A picture of a tree with orange and gold leaves inside a blue box. The text in the box reads "November is... #NHBPM  National Blog Post Month 30 Days, 30 Posts wegohealth"
This post is part of National Health Blog Post Month. 2012 may be winding down, but Health Activism is going strong. Let’s rejuvenate our blogs and do one last advocacy project before we head into 2013.

You may have heard about National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo, a month dedicated to the art of blogging, taking it to a new level by pushing all participants to blog every single day of the month.

Well, we are doing our own Health Blogger version all month long. NHBPM 2012 is here! Click the image above to sign up now to join the 30 day carnival and get 60+ prompts catered specifically to online health leaders, bloggers, and anyone who wants to try their hand at blogging about health. 

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