Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The wisdom to know the difference.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change those things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference."

The serenity prayer. Known and loved/hated by thousands of addicts around the world. And me.

(and I am certainly an addict, though not to any particular vise... but that is a post for another time.)

Long before I knew its daily use in AA meetings, I loved this quote. I actually used it as my high school senior quote - right under the smiling picture of a 17 year-old me who had no idea what lie ahead of her. I still love it, but with one caveat. I don't think that God (or anyone else for that matter) is simply going to grant me these things. I think it's something I have to choose for myself. And choose to work on.

I have not been working on this recently.

In fact, I can't remember the last time I found anything even remotely resembling serenity. And acceptance is equally hard to come by when it feels like you're trying to keep a strangle hold on your sanity.

I have, however, begun to recognize those things in my life that I can and cannot change.

(and as GI Joe would say, knowing is half the battle.)

I cannot change other people. I can accept them for who they are or I can extract them from my life. It’s as simple as that.

It’s extremely hard, though, to come to terms with the knowledge that someone you care about is no longer a beneficial part of your life. Sometimes relationships have an expiration date. Something that was beautiful and fulfilling in its time may now be draining or painful or simply exhausting. I can’t change that. But I can choose to remember the good times, love that relationship for what it was, and stop trying to make people live up to my expectations.

(release my kung-fu grip on those expectations, as it were.)

((yes, that was my second GI Joe reference in one post.))

I can change my attitude. What is that quote? Ah yes....

“Life is 10% what happens to us, 90% how we react to it.”

These are the choices we make everyday. I can choose to be happier. I can choose to be more positive. All those people whom I can’t change? I can change how I let them effect me.

I used to be quite proud of the fact that I exuded a positive outlook on things. I was optimistic. I looked for and believed in the best of people. I spread the love, peace, hope, and joy.

Now? Not so much.

Somewhere along the line, I lost that. Or it was chipped away. Or it simply gave up and left. But I miss it. I miss that version of me.

“The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.”

While this quote amuses me - and the pessimist in me agrees with it - I am tired of being proven right. I want to be proven wrong. So maybe it’s time to change my attitude. Make myself smile until I start to believe it? Maybe....

I can’t change MS. It’s an incurable disease. I’d like to say I could change my attitude about MS and choose to see it as some sort of blessing that is going to alter my life in positive ways, but let’s be honest, shall we? I can’t do that. Not right now. It’s too new. Too fresh. And quite frankly, too scary.

I can change my health. While MS is certainly going to do things to me - physically, mentally, and emotionally - that I did not sign off on, that doesn’t mean I have to help it along. The best thing I can do for myself is maintain the aspects of health that I do have some control over. So I need to eat better. Not drink so much. (*gasp!!*) Exercise more. Take my meds and supplements every day. And generally manage my stress levels better. Some of that is just mental stuff as well. Stress is never visited upon us. We inflict it on ourselves. And if we allow it to overwhelm us, surely we are only harming ourselves.

I still have some thinking to do. And let’s face it, with as much time as I spend trapped in my own head, that won’t be too hard. However, then comes the hard part - mustering up some courage and serenity.

I wish they made a pill for that.


  1. Jay, getting back to the optimist you once were is no easy task; as I'm sure you know I'm battling the same fight. I know my situation is different, but only slightly. After spending 11 years with someone who sees the world as dark, depressing, and out to get him, I had become just the same, and HATED IT. Taking the steps needed to get back on that track is the hardest part though, and I know you can do it. Just yesterday, I was on Myspace, reading my own profile (I know, a little narcissistic, but whatever) when I read my favorite part, in my 'heroes' section: "My sister; lands in a pile of shit and comes out smelling like a rose" - I still believe that in you.

    I know we have different views when it comes to God and faith, but I truly do believe (from my own results and experiences over the past 5 months) that with prayer, anything is possible. God grants me serenity almost daily, and the days He doesn't I know are the days that I've let my faith waiver.

    I love you, Jay, and I KNOW that the woman you were is there and will return. ♥

  2. Two thumbs and a handshake way up on this post, Jamie...I love it, every word. I'm always here if you ever need anything. By the way, cheesecake is part of a healthy diet. Seriously... :-)))