A is for Accepting

‘May God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change

the courage to change the things I can

and the wisdom to know the difference.’

Reinhold Niebuhr


I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of accepting recently (ie over the last year or so), especially in the context of accepting my physical limitations and what I can no longer commit to do.

I get a lot of practice at accepting that some days I just can’t. Just can’t get out to work. Just can’t cook a meal. Just can’t tidy up. Fortunately others days I just can. So when I can’t. I don’t. If I accept that and rest I get back to being able much sooner than if I fight it. Whether the cause is MS, or ME, or a infection, it isn’t particularly worth finding out. Accepting the situation as it is, and resting, is key.

What is much harder is accepting that there are activities that my increasing disability (particularly walking) means that I have to refuse to do. Some days I walk better than others. With my ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) I can walk quite briskly and for quite long distances (a mile or more). What is not so apparent to an observer is that the extent to which I have to concentrate on what I’m doing ie walking. So I usually can’t manage a conversation while I walk and I certainly can’t supervise youngsters (ie Guides). Uneven ground is a challenge and for steps I require a handrail, a stick or an assistant.

So recently I’ve had to say that my days of taking the guides to camp are over. It’s hard to accept, I love to be at camp with the girls and I could easily manage the organisational part, but I can’t cope ‘on the ground’ any more. But to write an email to my fellow guiders saying that was really difficult.

The flip side of this is learning to ask for and accept help. I’m quite good at asking for lifts. I’ve never driven, so that’s something I’ve always done and people are very willing to help. Accepting that at times I need to be in a wheelchair is a lot harder. But it’s much better to go in a wheelchair that be left out! Last winter we hired a wheelchair from the Red Cross for a couple of months when I was really unwell and it was good to practise with it. Recently I was offered one that someone else no longer required and was able to accept fairly easily (and hopefully graciously).

Having a fiercely independent streak is an asset in keeping me active and a liability in making it very difficult to ask for and accept help. Getting the right balance is an ongoing challenge.

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