DON’T GET OLD!!! SERIOUSLY? (WAIT….. I AM DYING TO GET OLD!)
People just don’t get it. They complain about the heat in the summer, the cold in the winter and I just want to say…”Hey choose one, you can’t complain about both!” But out of the mouths of seemingly well meaning people the first reaction is to commiserate. Unless of course you’ve had a meeting with your own mortality, then you are conscious of such banter.
“Don’t get old…” says the person who never faced the “big C”.
“Don’t get old!” with a chuckle is what I hear from patients on almost a daily basis. Mostly, I think it’s a pretty innocuous way of complaining about arthritis and joint pain, but for me it’s hard not to scream, “UMMMM…I want to get old!!” Getting old is a gift, dammit! When you’ve faced what we have you have a new found gratitude for the gift of time.
As we move further from the time of our diagnosis and treatment we may find ourselves joining the camp of not being as grateful for all the time we are given. If you have children, we measure our time based on what milestones our kids will be making. Whether it’s walking, going to school, high school, college, getting married and having their own kids, it’s something we crave to be a part of. One of the ways we can make the most of all our time, even when we are truly healthy is to focus on gratitude every day. Whether it’s a gratitude journal, saying a few words before we eat, or just taking five minutes before we go to sleep to list a few reasons for our gratefulness.
I have a standard “answer” I say when people make this ‘off the cuff’ statement. I say, “Beats the alternative!” and I usually get a laugh, because certainly the alternative to not getting old is a reality that we have contemplated. This allows me to move on with my day without those little gremlins of resentment lingering from the conversation. Resentments are literally poisonous for survivors and these little interactions can sometimes trigger a rabbit hole experience of a day. You know what I am talking about; that feeling of sadness, anxiety, anger or fear that just lies there waiting for us to address it. Sometimes I go through my day and have to question why I feel a specific way.
I literally have to say to myself, “Where is my happy today, why don’t I feel the way I WANT to feel?”
Getting honest with myself the answer to my question may be a resentment towards my husband, irritability with my toddler, not being “enough” in my own mind, a conversation that annoyed me, etc. The reason is not as important as the acknowledgement of what is going on and “re-directing” my thoughts just like I re-direct my toddler when she is in something she shouldn’t be. I don’t need to tell you, our time is a gift and we will appreciate it because of what we faced. We can shift our focus to how having this change in perspective has given us the opportunity to live life to its fullest. In some sense, we have been reconnected with the idea of the sand in the hourglass and we can choose to “spin” this to our advantage. We can focus on having a profound gratitude for every moment, even the glorious dull ones that we are so lucky to have the time to experience.
Get your gratitude on!