One of the biggest struggles I've dealt with having a chronic condition is having to put myself before others at times. It is something that doesn't feel right for me. I have always been a considerate person, one who gets more joy from giving than getting. I still do -- however I have had to adjust that philosophy to help it continue to work for me.
My thoughts and beliefs have not changed. I still love to be there for people when they need me. Many times I have been able to be there for others in a significant way. As my family knows there are many friends who call in a time of need. I take the call in confidence, and take it seriously. That's one thing I can still do -- listen. Many have so few in their lives who truly listen.
What I find missing are the little things. I always loved to remember every birthday, anniversary and special event in the lives of family and friends. I have ten siblings with spouses, 17 nieces and nephews and ten grand nieces and nephews and that is just family, there's a large circle of friends as well. I am happy for Facebook because it is a quick easy way to send a sincere message for a birthday, a compromise for sure, but it works.
I find when I dwell on it, it can be depressing. I volunteer less, I don't offer to babysit our neighbours darling boy, I do far less of the little extras that I loved to do. Shopping, cooking, and the little things are impossible some days and when it is possible I can only do it for my own family. If this were a short term thing it wouldn't bother me but it has been years since I have been able to do all those extras. So long that it feels like it has changed who I want to be on a daily basis. I'm sad for that, but I have accepted that it is a small price to pay for some sanity. I say that because when I tried to keep up with all of that while dealing with the pain, and the fog it brings, I was leaving people out. You know what's worse than not acknowledging birthdays? Remembering some and not others. I finally gave myself permission to not remember, not buy gifts, not send cards, and along came Facebook. For every problem there is a solution. I must remember that.
That is a seemingly small thing, but it was something I loved and it is one more little loss.
There are many big losses with chronic pain and illness but there are also little losses that impact our lives as well. The key to making the most of life is acceptance, and true acceptance means understanding, and letting go. I have let go.
What I can do is be there for those I love when they need me in a way that I can be, with my heart and in most cases my ears. I can listen.