What We Allow.
When I first became ill, I worried about the impact to others. Specifically, those closest to me – how might their lives be changed?
Doctor visit after doctor visit offered little, if any, insight. I was constantly falling over, grabbing walls for balance – waiting for the dizziness to subside. My heart rate plunged to dangerously low levels further exacerbating an already unsteady base. In time, constant and severe pain coursed throughout my body. In its wake, a stiffness that became my iron cage.
Initially, I was diagnosed with ‘severe dysautonomia’ – a broad term used to describe a failure of the autonomic nervous system.
Though when my tremors were finally noted, they realized it was something more. “I think you have Parkinson’s,” he said, laying his hand upon mine.
I don’t know how I made it home, driving through such tear-filled eyes. Looking back, it’s still a massive blur. I was angry, upset – and terribly fearful.
I’d always been that ‘friend out front’ – the one to be relied on no matter how grave the circumstance. I spent many long nights tending to their wounds.
How could I possibly become their burden?
And, so I withdrew. At first, a few days to help reconcile my thoughts. But then those days turned weeks, and those weeks to months. I went to every single office visit, surgical procedure and test on my own. The weight was heavy, though it was mine to bare.
It wasn’t until a dear friend pulled me aside to say, “I get to decide how I love you.”
Though mine was a unique experience, there is commonality to all. Because each of us at some point in our lives has made this very decision on behalf of another. In the struggle to understand the complexity of these new emotions, we cower and slink away. Though, perhaps worst of all – we pin our ‘unworthiness’ onto the heart of another.
Alan Cohen once wrote that those who love us are never fooled by the ‘mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself.’ Rather, they are further emboldened; driven by the image of our wholeness even in our most broken form. They want to help, they want to be of service.
They want to experience the joy in knowing they’ve lessened our pain.
So you see, the question isn’t so much ‘how could we burden’ but rather, ‘how could we dare to steal their joy away.’
In this new light, we find acceptance. And the once ‘so very big’, becomes our resolve.
Remember, we get what we give -but also, what we allow.