May 27, 2011

Let Me Recognize Pebbles of Joy in the River of Grief

"Caring, hoping, wanting--these are risky. But as we recover from [loss or] the effects of emotional illness, we may find that those risks are worth taking...
[Higher Power], let me not let my fear of disappointment prevent me from enjoying this day. I have a great capacity for happiness." 

I am grateful to receive the above reminder as I experience the loss of my uncle. Today, I know that good days come again, after each emotional challenge. 

But, nearly eight years ago,  when I suffered a major bout with emotional illness,  my first two doctors replaced my hope for recovery with their story that I was probably a biochemical misfit.  They told me medication "corrected" that like insulin for diabetes.  They did not look for any of the triggers that I now know play a role in relapse. And I stopped looking for signs of healing myself.

The good docs version of my story was such a disappointment to me that it seemed safer to give up hope. I snuffed out joy, too.  Like the author of May 27th's reading in Courage to Change,  I shut my heart and mind to my dreams and stopped expecting to find happiness. My "Inner Eeyore" won out for nearly a year.

Then the time came when  
I wanted more from life. 
It was not enough for me to avoid disappointment. But I made the mistake of motivating myself with fear. A second relapse resulted. That is when I realized that the medication did not work the way the doctors told me it did. At that point I decided to get back on my horse and ride, and stop listening to their prognoses. 

At first it was a huge challenge to believe joy could exist in my life.  With practice, I learned if I make room in my life for good times, I am better able to recognize them when they arrive.  For balance's sake,  I need understand that disappointment will arise in me when I entertain expectations for reality that it cannot meet. (I also create my own disappointment when I attach too much to any joy that comes my way.)

"Nobody is happy all the time, but all of us are capable of feeling good. We deserve to allow ourselves to experience every bit of joy life has to offer."

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.  Henry David Thoreau

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