I am running behind on the alphabetical posts for the Cauldron Blog Project, but since I’m one of the instigators of this year’s event, I feel like I should make a belated effort at an ‘A’ themed post. Trigger warnings may be needed, as this will be a bit of a
rant exploration dealing with adversity in the form of serious illness. Here we go, ready or not…
I am supposed to be angry at the universe, breaking down in sobs at regular intervals, falling to pieces at every opportunity, and endlessly moaning and bitching about my misfortunes. At least that’s what some of my family, friends, and acquaintances seem to think. I was recently diagnosed with a Very Serious Illness (TM) and therefore must respond in a Very Serious and Grave Manner (likewise TM). When speaking with others about this VSI in a VSGM, I must have the inevitable Very Serious Mental Breakdown (also TM) accompanied by some Very Serious, Very Public Emotional Drama (aka TMI). This, of course, gives the people expecting all these Very Serious behaviors a chance to have Very Serious Discussions (aka Gossip) about how the poor little thing is handling this… such a shame… so broken up… tsk, tsk, bless her little heart.
That’s not me and, to the endless disappointment of some folks, it’s not how I behave. I have a way of dealing with adversity that’s rather Zen-like, mystical, and mysterious, but I’ll try to distill it down to a few words without getting into really deep metaphysical or spiritual waters. Hmm… how about this: I put on my big person boxers, say my equivalent of the Serenity Prayer, and then go deal with the problem. Notice that nowhere in that statement is a mention of wailing, breaking down every time the VSI is mentioned, or falling on the floor in a sobbing heap. Also absent are demanding to my gods that this not really be happening, or wailing the words “Why me?” or “It’s not fair”.
YMMV, of course, and I acknowledge that my attitude about adversity goes against the grain of our reality TV-loving, drama-embracing society. I don’t care that it does. What I do care about is that I have several people telling me, in essence, that I’m doing it wrong (it= how I am reacting to having a VSI). For those folks, another ‘A’ word applies (hint: 7 letters and ends in ‘e’ with the middle part reading ‘sshol’). Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I do draw the line at being told how I should react to something that’s happening to me by people who have not walked in the same shoes. Of the all the stupid things I’ve heard duringthe last month, “You need to cry and get it all out” is my favorite (because apparently I am holding back a sea of tears – news to me!); second is “You shouldn’t make jokes” (because this is a VSI and humor does not comply with the required Very Serious Very Grave Manner); third place is “Don’t upset people by mentioning it. Tell them it was an accident.” (because it’s much better to lie than to upset perfect strangers who ask very invasive personal questions).
The eclecticism of my path has given me a certain set of tools for coping with adversity – a mindful awareness of my thoughts and feelings that allows me to acknowledge them without needing to always react to them (Buddhist influence there), a distinctive lack of fear where death and dark corners of my inner self are concerned (Valley of the Shadow of Death? Have a summer cottage there with all the threshold work that I do), a desire/ability to learn from whatever lessons are handed to me (between Isis and the Morrigan, this is a requirement) and a tendency to find humor in everything including catastrophe (all Loki, all the time). All of those things meld weirdly together to produce the outlook that adversity should be treated as an adventure, rather than an occasion for self-pity.
Here’s the thing about adventure: It isn’t always easy, nor is it safe. There are going to be monsters and traps along the way. There will be those who will help and those who will harm and you won’t always be able to tell the difference. There will be lessons that hurt and lessons that enlighten. There will be fear, but there will also be laughter. You can’t know what the end of an adventure will hold… it may be treasure, it may be disappointment, and it may be the end of this life and the beginning of a whole other kind of adventure. You can’t always choose the adventures that you experience, but at every step, you get to choose how you act and react. You can pine away for the comforts of the life you’ve left behind or you can embrace the changes that come your way. You can try to withdraw and hide from what is happening or you can take an active role in the events that will inevitably unfold. You can listen to the advice of those who have never set foot on an adventure or you can learn as you go, listening to your own heart and gut and accepting the wisdom of those who have walked the same road. What will you choose when adversity comes knocking on your door?