PERHAPS, LIKE ME, you sometimes lie awake at night. Instead of counting sheep, you count your failures or your inadequacies. You recount each “if only,” “I should have” and “I’m not enough” that the day has revealed within you. Did
you miss an important event at work or in the life of someone you love because of your illness? Strike one. Did you have to rest instead of loading the dishwasher or making that phone call as you’d intended? Strike two. Did you struggle to get out of bed today, marking not a single item off of your to-do list? Strike three. Unlike baseball, there isn’t a merciful “Out!” from the umpire so you can try again next time. The strike count just keeps growing day by endless day.
I remember when my daughter was about 2 years old and still blessing me by taking afternoon naps. On one particular
day, I’d struggled greatly to get up the stairs to lay her down for her nap. By the time we got to her room, not only was I
in tremendous pain, I was having an asthma attack. She took her time, carefully selecting the three books I was to
read to her before she went to sleep, as our daily routine dictated. Silently, I begged her to choose one-word books
and to fall asleep after the first. I had no idea how I’d make it through three stories. Naturally, she chose the three
longest books she owned and spent the next seven minutes arranging her blankets and animals just so before I could begin reading. I thought I might actually fall over. Instead, I sat on the side of her bed and began panting and reading. At the end of the second book, I closed it, placed the stack of books on the floor, kissed her head, and told her, “That’s all Mommy can read
today. I love you so much. Get good sleep now.” She immediately began to cry. She was tired and had been shortchanged
on her book time.
I closed her door and immediately began to cry. I struggled down the stairs while berating myself for not being able to read my own child another story. At the bottom of the stairs, I had a strange epiphany. Suddenly it was clear: I always saw what I hadn’t done, the stories I hadn’t read. I never credited myself for what I had done, the stories I had read. I was measuring myself against an impossible standard, one where I would always come up lacking. I was comparing myself to an able-bodied person.
I realized that day that I had to reframe my thought process. Instead of comparing myself to an able-bodied person and shaming myself for failing to do what he or she might have accomplished, I had to ask myself: “Have I given my all?” If the answer was yes, then it was enough, whatever “it” was.
Sometimes “all” is difficult to define. How do we know when we’ve given our all? Especially when it changes daily? We know “all” will be individual and ever-changing. One day, giving my all may mean taking care of my body by obtaining the treatments it requires. On another, giving my all may mean 15 minutes of time on the floor playing Barbies, offering my full attention to my daughter.
Giving our all may include a myriad of things like loving, sacrificing, selfcare, finding ways to chase our dreams or enjoying the things we love. It’s true we may not be able to offer ourselves to some pursuits (like mountain biking or skydiving), but if we’re offering all we have, what more can anyone ask of us? What more can we ask of ourselves? In fact, like rare gemstones, don’t our offerings become more, not less, valuable?
Posted with the permission of the author. You can read more of her work at Chronically Whole.