This blog is going to be a long apologetic mea culpa for delaying all the work I want to create for ReConnected Life. Except it’s not even a mea culpa, it’s one of those terrible apologies that doesn’t take on board the blame itself, but instead transfers the blame to something else: in this case, MS.
The thing about having a chronic illness, which they definitely do tell you, but you really don’t register, not until it’s happening, is that it slows you down. Regardless of how much pain you’re in, the fact that somewhere in the deep recesses of your mind, you know that more pain is around the corner, that fatigue is knocking at the door, it feels like everything you do is wading through treacle. MS affects the cognitive functions of the brain, and also having chronic illness as a background noise all the time, means that focus is not easy – I don’t know if the MS is affecting my thinking, I do know that this morning I took out a spoon from the draw to add the coffee granules to my coffee cup, and 30 seconds later I did it again, and was really confused to see a spoon already in the cup.
I had big plans for this year.
Last year was a year of two halves for ReConnected Life: the first half I devoted to increasing my arsenal of coaching tools and techniques so that I could have access to even more powerful ways to support your healing. And the second half I devoted to bringing our Community book, ‘To Report Or Not To Report: Survivor Testimony of the (In)Justice System’ into being. This year was therefore going to be the year where I finally was able to have the time to put the whole of the teaching of the ReConnected Life Experience programme online into a guided self-help so that you could access that learning without hitting the dual walls of your ability to pay, and my ability to give the time to all without me perpetuating the whole ‘waiting list’ debacle that access to support for rape recovery often is.
That has not happened.
And until very recently I was kidding myself that it was ok, I could make it happen for March next year.
That won’t happen either.
Every evening I was going to bed feeling like an utter failure because after a day that started at 6am to do the rituals that look after my sanity and my body before the working day starts, and then doing the working day, I was not able to get through the list of things I needed to get through to stay on track. And I was dreading the weekends, where I had so many other things I wanted to do, which I knew represented more than full days of work, which I knew I would not get done.
I had a mini-meltdown.
The next morning I decided that I could not continue this way. Because I know that if I don’t let go of needing to always work, and feeling so guilty in those times when my body lets me down and needs to sleep, or hurts so much that the maximum I can do is get lost in some binge TV so as not to focus on it, then I am going to be of no help to anyone. I was starting to feel so stressed about creating the course that I knew it was not going to be of such great quality; instead parts would be rushed and skipped over. It needs to be great, so that it’s great for you, and helps you heal.
I’m reading ‘Radical Acceptance’ at the moment, by Tara Brach. Many of you may already have come across her teachings, perhaps through her powerful meditations. (I’ve actually been reading Radical Acceptance since the summer; it’s partly a difficulty adopting her teachings, finding the time to read, and not wanting the book to finish…). The teachings in there are deeply profound, especially to me at this time. And I realise, that I have to accept that I cannot operate at even half the intensity that I used to. My expectations for myself need to adjust. I have to let go of the high-functioning workaholic I used to be and instead accept the new reality.
And it’s a good reality.
I have a roof over my head, I can afford to keep it heated. I eat well, I sleep well. I am still very mobile, and I’m getting fitter, slowly un-doing the years of sedentary living that had made me overweight and sluggish. Regardless of the joke about the coffee, my cognitive abilities are not letting me down. I worked hard to reconnect myself to life, and it is still a ReConnected Life that I am living.
There is so much to be grateful for, and one of those things is that before this happened, I already had all the tools and resources I needed to make sure that when I got the diagnosis that would change, whilst I might have initially tripped, I did not fall. I have gone back to basics, focusing on my mindbody connection, focusing on my selfcare, focusing on my connection to others. Whenever I stumble now, I just ask myself, what part of my own programme am I failing to embody? And therein lies the answer.
People have commented that I seem to be managing well, bouncing back from the life-changing news. That’s a kind observation; my own self-talk is a little more challenging (must review my notes on the inner critic…). However, I have never been content with merely staying at the same level, which bouncing back implies. I am more interested in bouncing forward; and so I intend to be living the very best life I can, with MS, and not despite it.
My focus for ReConnected Life has shifted now.
The ReConnect Your Life programme will be coming next year; just not in March. Rather than only toil on developing content for a far-off future date, I am also opening up my diary to do more coaching. Coaching energises me; seeing you blossom in your healing is the greatest gift to me, and I want more of that in my life. So, if you’d like to know how I’m bouncing back and bouncing forward once more, and you’d like to know how you can also bounce back, and bounce forward, let’s have a chat and see what the possibilities are for you.
You can book a call using this link.
With love, xx