Posted by: sistermom1 | September 12, 2009

My therapist has got me thinking

So I guess that means that she is doing a good job! 

I have been speaking with her about balancing the many challenges that have accompanied managing my diagnosis of MS. From my Buddhist practice, I have learned that life is really about winning and losing, and at every moment you are either moving forward/advancing or standing still/moving backwards.  I am not sure which direction I have been moving since I was diagnosed in 2005 — probably a little of both. 

When I talk to my therapist about my life, the place I usually find myself is  — “What does winning look like in this situation?”  What does it look like to win/move forward —  with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, using an electric scooter to get around, being unable to drive, or go anywhere on my own?  What does it look like to win in your life when it is so much different than you ever thought it would be – and unfortunately, it seems, not in a good way? 

Yes, many women find themselves in even more challenging situations in their lives – An episode of Oprah earlier this year featured a woman who went in the hospital to give birth, and after doing so got a flesh-eating virus.  By the time she left the hospital she had a newborn baby, but had lost both legs and both arms.  Her amazingly positive attitude despite this terrible set of circumstances totally impressed me, and I think of her and her husband and daughter often, sending them all prayers of strength and happiness. 

When I think of this situation, I am reminded how different things could be for me.  It is never a good idea to compare individual sufferings – everyone’s suffering is uniquely their own.  But I do believe in being inspired by other people’s experiences, and finding encouragement anywhere in the universe you can find it.

My mentor in life, Daisaku Ikeda, has shared many ideas with countless philosophers around the world.  His encouragement has been very inspiring to me and I share it to hopefully encourage readers of this blog:

Illness is not something to feel ashamed of.  It is not a sign of misfortune or defeat.  Suffering is the fuel of wisdom, and it opens the way to happiness.  Through illness, human beings can gain insight into the meaning of life, understand its value and dignity, and strive to lead more fulfilling lives.  (www.ikedaquotes.org)

I am working on adjusting my own attitude about my illness, and this quote, along with my Buddhist practice, really inspires me.  My therapist is also helping me navigate through this stage of my illness successfully, and learn the lessons that this detour is supposed to be teaching me.  I think I am starting to see that “winning” in this situation means that I will “gain insight into the meaning of [my] life, understand its value and dignity, and strive to lead a more fulfilling life.”

The journey for me and mine continues – and I am happy to be here…

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