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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If Only

I received a Barnes and Nobel gift card for Christmas from Becky, a woman whose beautiful daughter Ashley, has NF.   I finally got around to using it a few weeks ago and chose two equally stunning books (I read a book or two a week, mostly from the library).  One was entitled “A Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes and the other I’m reading now.  It’s a memoir by Ashley Judd entitled “All that is Bitter and Sweet”.  I hesitated on that one (I enjoy her movies but wasn’t really sure I wanted to hear about her life, which I knew was very difficult before success found her) until I read the back of it. 
It’s about her past, yes, but it’s mainly about her humanitarian work with AIDS in Africa and other devastated countries.  She hates the term “Developing” nations because it’s far from the truth.  I don’t want to go into detail, but it is definitely with your time to read it.  I mention it because as someone with a debilitating disorder, I  struggle with the fact that NF isn’t the only disorder out there and acknowledging the suffering of others is important to my spiritual growth.  And sometimes I want to sit on the pity potty for as long as it will hold me.  But I seldom do, at least not for long (hopefully).
Being aware of the suffering of others is what makes us human.  And taking action on that awareness makes us better humans.  I often fantasize about what I would do with my life if not for the sometimes crippling pain that keeps me from doing much of anything; can’t even sit for more than 30 minutes, so travel is out (and this worries me greatly because my dad turns 88 this month and I want to be able to travel the 1600 miles to visit….but I can’t.  So traveling the world to help (if I could do that…would I?) the suffering is out for me.  But would I? 
That’s always the question.  We always think and often say, what we would do “if only” this or that wasn’t in the way.   And for most, it’s just a excuse.  And I include myself in that group too.  Because I’m sure there is something I could do with my limited mobility. I mean, I have a computer, I blog, I write.  The big thing for me is I can’t always do what I need to at the time it’s needed, and therefore, I cancel dates with friends, doctor appointments, etc. because I am unable to manage because of the pain or the  pain medication.  It’s a never ending cycle and it makes me angry that I can’t get past it.
And that’s the thing about life challenges for most people.  They struggle with this or that (as you will read in Judd’s memoir, should you choose to read it) but most of the time, there is a coming to the ‘other side’ of whatever has confounded your life.  You might never be completely separated from the challenge (the death of a dear one, child abuse, self abuse, etc.) but you will get to the other side, if you choose to do so. 
Chronic illness has no release valve.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t make something out of your life.  My biggest problem with reading books like Judd’s, is that I beat myself up to a pulp, pouring on the should’s and ought to’s.    Which does nothing..  So we must learn to stop doing that to ourselves, or find a way to do what you complain about not doing.

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