Being a positive person living with a chronic, progressive disease sounds like an oxymoron. Is it even possible to do both at the same time? Some would say it can’t be done. They would say that life becomes too full of uncertainties, pain and complications that there is no way to face it with a positive attitude. But it can be done and is being done by thousands of people every day.
How is that even possible? How can anyone keep a positive attitude while facing constant difficult times?
I think we have to first determine what being positive actually means. The word positive has been misunderstood and improperly defined for far too long…so much so that it has been an impossibility for many to attain a positive life in the midst of hardship.
Being positive has nothing to do with how many jokes you can tell, how funny you are, or laughing all the time. It’s not about living in an I Love Lucy episode or a Three Stooges world. It’s not about hiding from the reality of what you are dealing with and trying to cover up the struggle in an attempt to keep people from knowing you’re hurting. Hard times are real. Tears happen. Pain hurts. No amount of covering it up or denying its existence is going to make it go away or lessen its troubles. Let me tell you what it means to be a positive person while living with a chronic illness.
Being positive means that even when you are facing the darkest storm of your life, you get out of bed to face the day. Even though pain has you doubled over in tears, you keep going. Even when your brain is foggy and your thoughts get all muddled, you push through. Even when your life has flipped upside-down, inside-out and stays in a constant tilt, you keep fighting because you simply refuse to be defeated.
The tears flow, tempers rise, thoughts rage, and confusion happens. But through it all, you find a tiny ray of sunlight, a smile, a bit of hope to cling to.
You see, it’s alright to have negative thoughts when your path bends the wrong way or the unexpected happens. Don’t beat yourself up when negative feelings, thoughts, or even words creep into your life. You haven’t done anything wrong. That’s just a part of being human. It’s okay to be real. It’s okay to feel. The challenge is to not let those negative things grab hold of you and keep you from actually living.
Being positive is about allowing yourself to feel all those crazy, mixed-up things yet hoping for a better tomorrow…and sometimes a better next 5 minutes. Hope doesn’t just happen…it’s made.