Monday, November 29, 2010

Acceptance

"You have accepted all your gifts", it was a simple statement that appeared on my computer screen after accepting some facebook game gift requests. It gave me an Aha moment, or as Oprah would say, a lightbulb moment.

I was raised believing that if you have a gift your duty is to share it, and by gifts I mean talents. If God gave you a gift it was your duty to develop it, and if you had any inspiration at all, you share that too. The same for religious understanding, if you have it, then much is expected from you. The greater your gift the more you should make of it. The greater your faith, the greater grasp you have on religion, the more you need to live up to it.

You cannot do this without first accepting your gift.

It has been in recent years that I have started to accept other gifts too, these are not talents but blessings.

The more I have accepted, the less I have had to tolerate. Many people probably do not realize that acceptance beats tolerance hands down. To put it simply, acceptance is loving the grace that is, tolerance suggests 'putting up with' something, not loving it for its own sake.

Ten years ago, I went to stay with a friend I love dearly... but when I got there, absolutely no provisions had been made for my accomodation. The spare mattress was MIA, the linens had to be washed and dried at the laundromat after dark, and during the time that I stayed all our plans for outings and activities had to be postponed for hours at a time as my friend dawdled, dithered, and procrastinated. We were even late to a very expensive outing to the ballet that I had paid for, for her birthday, we had to stand outside waiting to be allowed in at the end of the first act! I was supposed to stay two nights, but my friend wasn't ready to drive me to the train station in time for the last train home from the city to my town. I ended up having to stay another night... under these conditions I was frustrated, I felt like my life had been highjacked, and I just wanted to go home where I was IN CONTROL.

It was an eye opening experience, as I learned to accept my friend, of course, I wasn't accepting immediately, but as time passed I realized this was my friend's lifestyle. My friend was not the same person as myself though we have many things in common. I realized the root of the problem was my expectations.... when reality did not meet my expectations I was disappointed and disillusioned, and okay at times a little angry.

The next time however that I went to stay, I walked in expecting only that I had to be flexible, that my visit was an adventure, and that it was even okay to stay home and talk all day while we did chores, and that it was time together that mattered not how the time was spent.

The following year, my mother and I flew interstate to visit my Aunty Jean. Aunty is vision and hearing impaired and lives alone, she does not drive, so we braved the cab line at the airport and arrived at Aunty Jean's house at dusk. We arrived to a quick hug, and I was greeted with the unpleasant comment about myself 'You've got fat!', this from the woman who had only put on weight as long as I've been alive. I was unhappy to hear it, but realized Aunty was only shocked, she hadn't seen me in more than ten years and I had always been very thin until I became unwell and struck with an illness no one could diagnose (I have since recovered but it was a terrible 12 months). Based on my experience staying with my friend, I wasn't stressed to find that beds had not been made for my mother and I, nor towels laid out, and that before it got any darker one of us would have to climb a ladder and change a lightbulb in what was to be our room. Mum, however, reacted just as graciously as I had the first time staying with my friend, which is to say she was pissed! I tried to explain to mum, that Aunty does not have the same confidence and practice with guests, but could not add that in Aunty's experience she cannot please Mum and that not being able to predict what Mum would want she deferred making decisions so that we could choose for ourselves how to make the old caving in mattess that was my grandmothers more comfortable, and which type of emergency mattress I would like to put on the floor for myself.

Over the past ten years my ability to accept my friends and other people has grown in leaps and bounds, but it has been the last two or maybe three years that I have had a new and very special person come into my life, a fellow blogger, Chez, at Indigo Dreaming (visit her via my blog roll on right of page) and that the final pieces of the acceptance puzzle have fallen into place.

From the day I met Chez, she has been battling with recurrence of breast cancer, and as time passes more and more medical issues are added to her already very full plate. In spite of living on opposite sides of this very vast nation, and having a considerable age difference (which I have to say I really don't notice) and some different life experiences - I have not become a mother yet, neither have I been married - we just understand each other, we get on wonderfully and my life is incredibly enriched by the friendship.

Every now and then I get to thinking that one day, my friend just won't be able to fight any more, and I admit, one night last week I went to bed thinking how easy it would be for me to get stuck in the spiritual quagmire of asking God (in an accusatory voice) why He allowed me to meet and love this woman if only to watch her die (albeit at a distance).

The answer seems very clear to me, that had we met earlier, it would not be the friendship we enjoy today, in fact I was only ready for this friendship the year that we met, and earlier than that I don't think we could have made the connection that we have made. I would have been too young, too unhappy (in fact depression and anxiety made a very heavy toll on my life in my early twenties) here is someone who cherishes life and is working on getting the most she can out of it, and up until a few years ago I was someone who in spite of all the wisdom and faith inherent in my soul, was often suicidal and resentful of life. I think had we crossed paths, neither of us would have looked back, or reached out, we wouldn't give any thought to friendship, I don't think she could have recognised me, and I certainly wasn't able to be the friend I am now.

Knowing this, I am grateful that we 'met' and I accept the gift of our friendship. I accept that some of the things we dream of - actually meeting and spending time together, witnessing each other publish our life stories, living near each other - may never happen. I hope for them to happen, but I accept they may not.

Not only this but I have had the revelation, though I think I've known it subconsciously all along, that I completely accept Cheryl's journey. I won't give up on her, but I won't be pulling on her begging her to stay. In short, I won't be asking her to suffer more. I will allow her to take her journey wherever it may lead, and I accept her every feeling, her every choice, and know that they are her own. I accept that I have a separate journey that is mine and that she feels the same for me and will allow me to take my journey. I accept that we have a shared journey and that is our friendship. In short, I have accepted all my gifts.

6 comments:

magsx2 said...

Hi Starry,
Very well written, I enjoyed the read.
Friends are always very dear to us, and there always has to be a bit of give and take on both sides, we are all very different, this is what challenges us as well as keeps us together.

Starry said...

Hi Mags, well after that first visit with my friend, I knew that unless I figured something out the friendship was in danger. Since then I always try to give everyone the acceptance they deserve, and with most of my real friends I get it back and more.

Kaz said...

Starry,well written and touch my heart deeply..Starry think you know how much Chez means to me,very special lady that i hold very dear to my heart and yes we share a heart wrenching journey of the loss of our kids,Jeremy & Kassie and know deep in my heart they brought us together for a reason. Chez has another journey she battles and you and I will be right there,she has touch so many lifes that i am so glad i am part of it,but you toch hers beyond words and i saw that with your last few post,on your blog and Chez blog..wish i could tell how i feel in words but don't happen for me,in my mind they do but put on paper they don't..Starry you are amazing and loads of talent with writing how you feel..Big hugs to you..

Kaz.xxx

Starry said...

Hi Kaz,
you are certainly a very familiar figure to me through your own comments to Chez on blog and facebook. I think you are a wonderful and essential friend for her, and my heart is very warm towards you. I am very lucky to have been given the ability to write and express myself but your devotion and love for Chez are very clear and speak more than words can say, don't ever worry about that.
If it was you that I caused any alarm to upon first reading my post I cannot be more sorry, as I am mostly writing about my discovery that I am strong enough to accept this wonderful friendship. Though I would wish Chez to always be in perfect health, I know it is not mine to change, only to accept, which its a miracle if i am able to.
As for my 'insights' as Chez calls them, I think I get mainly the good hopeful ones, I think Heavenly Father protects me from having any kind of painful ones to people I am this close with. I certainly wouldn't publish them if they did come, its just not something I'd be comfortable with.
Any friend of Chez is a friend to me, you are welcome any time, Kaz.

Kaz said...

Hi Starry,

Thanks for your kind words.I too have the same wish that Chez can be cancer free but as you say out of our hands but know we will both be there for her always.thanks for welcoming me,right back at you..

XXXXXXX Starry,

Kaz

BreastCancerSisterhood.com said...

We never know when and where friends will find us or what that intangible quality is that bonds us together. It's easy to be friends with someone when times are good, but to love and appreciate one another when our lives are unsettled takes a special kind of understanding.

Chez has been in my life for only a short amount of time, but I love her and worry about her. I wish I could scoop her up and hold her and will her to be well. I have even thought, seriously, about traveling to meet her. Last week, it was hard for me not to do just that.

I'm so glad she has so many who've known her longer, appreciate and love her. She remains in my prayers.

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