I’m good in my skin – learning acceptance a day at a time 

I’m sure we all have to learn to accept and from an early age too. The speed at which I am having to learn to accept seems to be gaining pace these last couple of years and again the last couple of months.

Just when I think I’ve arrived and I can settle & wriggle my way into a new norm, just for a while, there’s another surge, something new to accept and adapt to. 

The last couple of months I’ve had appointments with a consultant every other Friday and each appointment has brought me news that has been largely unexpected. My head space over the weekend is then taken up with processing, adjusting followed by a reset and then I’m back, just different.

I’m back, just different seems to have been the order of things on and off in life in ways that I’d never have predicted. Yes sure, we all have to go through adjustments. Life happens, whether that’s bereavement, marriage, relationship breakdowns, changes in financial stability, work circumstances, the list goes on doesn’t it. Those are the things that I guess we can comfortably predict we will need to deal with along the way. 

I’ve had to accept I won’t have children. I never thought that would be my situation. I always thought I would be a mum and one day a grandmother. That said, I do now wonder how much desire I had for that. If it was that important perhaps I would have made better relationship choices. Who knows.

Speaking of choices I’ve discovered I have some when it comes to acceptance. I don’t have children so what am I going to do? Be bitter, carry it around and let it be my ugly or accept that’s how it is and enjoy the life I have. I’m the latter because I’ve chosen to be and I guess that’s the point. Acceptance is a choice. 

It’s ok to look at something in my life and say that’s shit, I wouldn’t have chosen it but it’s ok and move on. I could have chosen to look at my ileostomy bag and feel like that but I don’t. There are people who look at me with sympathy (argh), a guy couldn’t see how he might find me attractive with it and then there are the others who, like me, think it’s bloody amazing. Personally I don’t see the problem. Ok, it’s a thing that’s stuck to my body, it needs to be managed but that thing has given me life and actually it looks ok, so what. As an aside, if I date someone and they have an issue with my ileostomy bag that’s a pretty good early filter to ensure I’m not with someone I wouldn’t want to be with anyway. 

I’ve had my ileostomy 8 months so still early days but also far enough along to have adapted quite a lot. It doesn’t dominate my thoughts anymore, I’ve established a routine and new habits. I know what I need to do to manage it and I’m doing exercises to rehabilitate my core to make sure life really can take on a normal shape. This is all part of the journey to take me forward to my next chapter. 

I’ve loved the feeling of recognising myself of late and I think that is all about acceptance. So this big thing happened and it threw me off my feet for a while there. It’s been bewildering and liberating in equal measure. I’ve had some unexpected challenges thrown at me along the way. 

The latest unexpected news is that the auto immune disease that was destroying my colon is also having a go at my joints, which are inflamed and painful. Longer term the path will be to go back on biologics and as was explained to me yesterday I will need to be on these before the inflammation progresses and travels to places like my spine. My hands have been pretty sore and I’ve had quite a loss of dexterity. Managed so far by steroid injections and physio but I guess if the same happens in my spine the impact on day to day life could be significant. Quality of life is where it’s at these days and to get that I need to accept. Put that way acceptance gets easy (ish!). What do I need to do to avoid not being able to get out of a chair or walk around without being in debilitating pain? Inject a drug? Ok, let’s do that and manage the side effects. As my Dad says, a problem managed is no longer a problem. If my ability to accept my lot is a problem well then that’s the thing I have to manage!

Don’t get me wrong. Choosing to accept something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy but it surely makes it easier than carrying the burden of non acceptance. I can still do a lot of things and do everything I want to. Ok, I might have to adapt and can’t go headlong into things without a smidge of forethought. Not exactly a drama is it. Only if I (& those around me) choose not to make it one.

Someone said to me ages ago that I might not be able to control another persons behaviour but I can control mine. Similarly I can’t control how auto immune disease manifests in me or others attitudes to me/it but I can control mine. So I choose acceptance and adaptability. I choose not to need someone else’s approval of me. My situation is what it is and nothing I feel will change the path my body is on. 

I was chatting to someone yesterday about life, acceptance and being middle aged (ouch) and single. Given a choice I would be in a happy relationship (note the happy not just any old one) and would have someone to share my life with. Because health stuff aside my life is pretty cool and like anyone deserving of a partner in crime to share it with. So for now, it’s about accepting that I don’t have that someone and finding the happy in it just as it is. You know what, I am happy. I’m off to a wedding today, by myself and it’s all good. Someone dear to me is getting married and that’s what it’s all about. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

So here I am, accepting and adapting, accepting and adapting. Because that’s what we do when we don’t accept the alternative. No thanks, this life of mine is to be lived, to the maximum. Whatever my maximum is I’ll be sure to be living it.

I’m good in my skin 

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