27 Tishrei, 5775
The new year has been filled with blessings and heartaches. Normal life.
The best way to deal with pain is to focus on things that improve your quality of life.
On that topic, the American Recall Center (see the ARC Facebook page) contacted me, to request that I join selected bloggers "... to bring light to a topic that is not often talked about, medication safety."
I've chosen selections from the the EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge book about the misery of taking medications, the "Why ME?" conundrum, and suggestions for improving compliance with taking prescribed medications.
Keep coming back to this blog for the 5-day series of posts coming up.
Here's Part 1:
The pressure is on. We want to be heroes at saving our own lives, or somebody else wants us to be heroic. Sometimes we feel like quitting this scary situation. As the mental pressure builds, our minds sort of explode. We might start asking "WHY? Why is this happening to me?"
We don't ask that question because we necessarily want an answer. I suspect that what the question is really about is this: We're accusing GOD of having made a mistake- a BIG mistake. We don't believe we deserve the troubles, tribulations and pain that we're in. I'll return to this line of thought in a bit.
Not knowing the answer to "WHY?" can make a suffering person feel infuriated. That can lead to a sense of guilt. We're not supposed to be angry with GOD; we're supposed to accept whatever He gives to us. Acceptance is a process. A normal person needs time to come to grips with their medical crisis. You are normal. You need that time, too. You're normal if you're ready to move on from the pointless speculation and still feel upset. It means you have courage, the ability to take sound action despite your conflicting and/or confusing emotions.
Let's examine the "Why ME?" question a little more. My hunch is that when people ask "Why ME?" they really want to ask, "How can I get out of this situation?" My personal approach is that I start talking to HaShem (GOD) as if I were talking to Him on the phone. I state my case. I review the facts of my history. I've been basically good. I've messed up here and there. I don't understand how to relate to my suffering. I admit that we mortals are supposed to accept whatever HaShem (GOD) gives us and I tell Him that I'm working on that acceptance. I know that each setback is an opportunity to exercise my strengths and to improve on them. I focus on the reality that my prayers are part of my relationship with GOD. I list the things for which I'm grateful, and tell Him so. And I tell Him what I want to happen to me.
Then I work on accepting the situation as it is. At other times I visualize desired improvements. The bonus is that during the whole painful adventure, I sometimes gain insights into behaviors and attitudes that aren’t serving me well. Some of them, I realize, are counterproductive. So I set goals for changing myself for the better. It tends to be a plan that works. You might have had similar experiences. In any case, focus on what’s not serving your interests, explore ideas for productive changes you need to make, and nurture those changes along.
What if you're a person who feels so much guilt about what you did or did not do in life? What if you're afraid that you DESERVE this medical crisis?
And how can you deal with the searing pain of people who callously respond to your questions with trite clichés such as “Why is a crooked letter (and hence a forbidden question),” or “We can never know ‘why’”?
I have two user-friendly responses to those questions:
1. You need to sort the issues out with a friend, loved one, effective therapist or sensible clergyman/woman. Then you can use the above exercise.
2. GOD knows we all have misery in our memories. GOD is a realist. Our spiritual heroism comes from grappling with the memories and going forward with/despite/because of and in spite of them (fill in the word or phrase you prefer to use).
Here’s a caveat to keep in mind with some critics who lack insight or sympathy with your situation (this is not a license to wallow in self-pity!): Remind yourself (perhaps your critic, too) that their condescending comments are fueled by a one-upsmanship point of view. They are not appropriate responses to someone experiencing shock and misery. The critic is coming from a position of comfort, failing to empathize, to see life from your point of view.
HaShem (GOD) does not endanger anyone struggling to become a better person with Double Jeopardy. Once we make focused efforts to stop our troublesome behavior (granted, it might take a few tries to succeed), He then credits us with the efforts and ultimately with our successes. We DO NOT get punished for past misdeeds once our character improvement effort is accepted. We are further appreciated for the effort we invested in ridding ourselves of character defects. Forgiven is forgiven, no two ways about it. One road to self-improvement is to ask “Why me?” It works for people genuinely interested in self-improvement, insight and inner peace. Think of the concept that “I’m not what happened to me, I am what and who I choose to become.”
The “Why me” mindset is most definitely not a legitimate tool for manipulators sucking unwarranted sympathy from other people. Being well-adjusted, even happy - no matter what went on in your life - is a personal matter. You need to do your inner work to make your own life better. It is not everyone else’s job. They have their own lives to live.
Still grappling with the concept of a GOD Who’d “do this" to you? I understand. Life is one lo-o-o-n-g lesson in humility. Acceptance is a process amidst uncertainty. There’s no One Size Fits All way to help all of humanity to love GOD with the individual medical or other crises each of us faces. Here’s my suggestion for resolving the dilemma one person at a time: Consider the fact that GOD created the concept of love.
He/She (Hebrew prayers and Jewish texts describe GOD/HaShem in both masculine and feminine pronouns) knows more about the entire scope of love than we do. We mortals only have a tiny peephole into the cosmos, let alone into our hearts or someone else’s. Our comprehension of reality is therefore limited.
You know that parents must permit painful injections into beloved little children: it’s a means of preventing deadly diseases. The tykes wail and scream bloody murder, but doctors and parents/guardians are heroes for facilitating necessary medical care despite the hot tears and juvenile efforts to run away from the scene. Eventually those recipients of shots or terrible-tasting medicines reconcile themselves with the necessity of discomfort to ward off death or disease. We humans submit to surgery and other uncomfortable treatments in order to minimize suffering. We realize that the medical professionals are not cruel for cutting into us or for filling us with chemicals. They are helping us, though our pain and emotional turmoil are part of that helping process. Doctors suffer emotional torment, too. Their goal is not their pain and suffering or ours; it’s the effort to promote healing and to minimize suffering. Medical professionals know that though they’re hurting you, the medical process can help you. GOD works the same way, to a more spiritual degree.
When you go to your ultimate reward and see that Instant Replay of Your Life video we keep hearing about, the one that the
plays after we arrive for Judgment Day, you WILL NOT SEE your misdeeds on
screen. GOD forgives you completely. Your enduring concern touches Him deeply
and your commitment to being good is a great accomplishment. You did the best
you could under your specific circumstances. He will NOT hold the past against
you. Why? Because you created a beautiful future with goodness-oriented life.
Click on the book cover above, or on the title at the end of this sentence, to buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge.
Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism.
Feel the pain, and go forward anyway.