Setbacks or Life Pauses: Choosing My Perspective

Dear Audy,

Today is one of those days that feels like the beginning of a storybook. The sky is sunny and clear. The air is perfectly cool and refreshing. I woke without feeling like my body was going to swell to the point of bursting or melt into a puddle under the crushing weights of humidity and gravity.

It was a really nice change.

20141020 Spring garden

I’ve been struggling a lot over the last couple of months in ways that have been difficult to put into words. I’ve felt sore, tired and beaten down. I’ve kept going, kept pushing and kept wondering why every part of life has to be so hard, whilst knowing that perceiving tasks as difficult is a mindset that I can always change.

I tinker away at my thoughts and sometimes they click into place. It can take seconds, minutes, months, or years, but if I keep noticing what my mind is doing and challenging it to do something a little bit differently, then eventually things change. I change.

There have been external factors that I can’t control and reactionary angst that I work to get better at controlling.

I was hoping to start some new and exciting things after having successfully gotten stronger all Winter, however some periods of extra illness have set me back a little. Setbacks are tough. I know you understand that, Audy, whether you live with an unpredictable illness or not. It’s never fun to get to the castle, die at the spikes of Bowser and have to start the level over.

Losing my footing in this latest level was confusing. It was unexpected to go back to the start, I was so focused on continuing forward that a setback (or a few) felt like an affront, an attack on me and everything that I believe in. Ridiculous, really, a setback is a just a setback, it’s not the universe having a personal dig at me. Recognising this can be a surprise because things don’t always seem so simple when you’re in the midst of them.

When life gets a little rougher than usual, I try to keep focusing on the little things that keep me alive and calm. Little things like eating well, exercising and pain management. I focus on pacing and try to be sure not to spend all my energy taking care of one task at the expense of everything else. It gets boring, and then I focus on reframing what I consider boring, why I consider it boring and what I can do to stop this perception from interfering with the boring tasks that I need to keep doing in order to have the strength to cope.

I’ve felt lost during this setback because I’ve missed having new things to focus on. A few months of slowly improving in strength and coping skills had me feeling ready to take on something new and productive, like perhaps some sort of gainful employment. Being set back meant it became impossible to realistically consider doing anything more than coping with CRPS and, understandably, that bummed me out a bit.

I’m still struggling with the Spring weather, however it’s day’s like today that remind me seasons always change and that I’m not losing anything just because I can’t strive to achieve for a while. Not going forwards doesn’t equate to going backwards. Maybe the problem with setbacks is the “back” part. Maybe I should think of them as simple pauses.

Maybe the weeks and months when I feel like I’m weakening because the disease is strengthening aren’t setbacks at all. Maybe they’re just little life pauses. And maybe life pauses are OK.

And with that realisation, it’s definitely time to rest my hands.

Love & Little Steps,

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