no hero

The end of year is often a time when I pause a bit to stock-take on how the year has been and what are some learning points to mark. What came clearly through the painful process was the recognition (and acceptance) that I HAVE VERY LIMITED RESOURCES – by that I mean energy and time.

While whining over how disconnected I am from the lives of the people whom I used to be close with, I was equally discouraged at how they are also disconnected from mine. What makes it more frustrating is the fact that while the spirit or mind is willing, the state of my physical self makes all these interactions almost impossible. It may be helpful to give some context to the idea behind The Spoon Theory before I write further. The Spoon Theory is a concept written by a fellow Lupus sufferer, Christine Miserandino, where spoons are used to represent energy. A person with chronic condition would have a finite amount of spoons per day and each activity, including brushing your teeth and changing your clothes, remove some spoons until eventually there is none left. The point of it is that people with chronic condition do not have endless reserves of energy or spoons as oppose to their otherwise healthy counterpart.

For me, I find myself waking up to different number of spoons every morning. There are days I woke up feeling okay and there are days I woke up feeling even more exhausted than when I went to bed. Increasingly, I find myself waking up with lesser and lesser spoons, with someday, spoon deficit. My daily routine is simple. I struggle to wake up in the morning to get ready for work. The journey from home to work (20 mins, with approximately a 10mins walk) is considered a challenging task that will zap up a significant amount of energy from me. Often by the end of a work day, my remaining energy will be just enough for me to take a slow walk home (25mins), wash up, have dinner and rest. That is my optimized daily routine for a normal day. Anything out of this routine will require some adjustments or I will just have to suffer the consequences, which at times I make provisions for because I am human being and human being are supposed to have other people in their lives!

In the midst of feeling sorry for myself that I am all alone, isolated from the world that I used to be in, and having no energy to care about everyone and all their concerns, I do still interact with people and form meaningful relationships – either by convenience (eg. work, proximity) or by love (people who make effort to stay connected and in the know). Out of all the frustrations and disappointment, I remember going through this phase where I go through the process of “evaluate, promote, demote and eliminate” for all my friendships. I do admit that was done with a bit of self-pity and maybe bitterness. Through the process, I recognize that I have very limited energy and I can’t be holding on to the past and wished for things to stay the same (people do move on). I need to focus my limited energy to recognize and give weight to the few relationships that matters and understand where I am at this point in my life. While filled with the frustration and disappointment at how many of my relationships turned out (or not turned out), I was conscious that I should not approach this with a negative and bitter mindset. I do not want to have the defensive loser mentality where “I cut you out of my life because……” I did not want the new direction to be driven by something of the negative – reaction from hurt and self-seeking.

I briefly shared what I was going through and how I was feeling with a dear friend whom I have had the privilege of staying connected over the years. Hearing my heart, he dropped me a text early one day that reads “I feel there is a need to be more present to those who need you, and cut out all other distractions.” That just resonated so deeply with my heart! I shouted a resounding “Yes” upon reading it and my spirit was instantly lifted and realigned. Instead of focusing my mind on the relationships that is slowly fading away because of reasons we can’t avoid and causing me distress, I should be focusing my (limited) time and energy on those who are around me, those who are present to me, need me, and those who had allowed me to ‘need’ them. Once I opened my eyes, I see where I am. I see many people that have been place around me. There are needs around me and there are important roles that I play (even within my less-than-productive daily routine) – I need to be present (all the more with the little that I have to offer). I think this is Grace.

A while back, I was reminded to show love and kindness where possible and I guess that is also coming back to my mind. Instead of focusing on what I have to give up, I am to focus and be present at where my current place is. I need to SEE the people and events around me to recognize beauty – one of which its story I can be a part to tell.

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