Wednesday, June 04, 2008

On Optimism and Realism

Optimism is mostly a good thing, but for people with my own stubborn mind bent, it can also hold it's own dangers.
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn on this path
was that optimism coming AFTER dealing with the reality of my changed life was and is a good and positive thing, but when the optimism occurred BEFORE dealing with the reality, it was harmful more often than not.

I used to wince at the word disabled. Now I accept it as a fair evaluation of what I deal with on a daily basis. Accepting what I cannot do without risking health or survival was key to moving on and finding things I CAN do, instead of wasting my emotional and physical resources struggling to achieve the things I used to do easily.

It became clear to me that the cost of, say, keeping a flower bed free of weeds was very very high (pain, recovery time, permanent damage), especially when weighed against the results. The outcome was the flower bed got clean, and I had a false sense of accomplishment in doing what I used to do. I say false, because I used to gain joy and contentment from the act of weeding. Now if I were to weed a flower bed that joy and contentment would be swallowed by the pain. Even worse, the cost in recovery time would mean two days lost. Two days I could have been spending on pursuits that do not risk my health and life.

Optimism is an important tool in life, whether someone is disabled, or not, but when dealing with new physical paradigms, it also can hide denial like tall grass hides a trap.

One reason I feel safe and welcome in one of my favorite yahoo groups is the people there are
real. They are learning how to deal with what life has handed them, and adjust their dreams to a new reality. Some of us have trouble walking when we used to hike, some of us have trouble wiping our own bottoms when we've raised several kids, some of us were diagnosed or became disabled just a short time ago, some of us have been traveling this path for decades, having to readjust life every time some new physical or mental complication was added to the mix. I have much to learn, and much I can share.

I find the posts there pretty well balanced between sorrow and joy, despair and humor, and am very glad the word disabled is in the group's name. It helps me know the people already there and those who will find us in the future understand my challenges in ways fully healthy people sometimes cannot.

1 comment:

Mokihana said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you.