Life changed a lot after multiple sclerosis came to live with me. Many emotions surfaced that I didn’t even know existed. Fears, doubts, worries…MS forced them all out into the open. It was a time in my life when chaos and confusion became the norm and I didn’t like it at all.
I guess some people would think that that’s a terrible thing for MS to do to me. I was sinking fast and feeling as though, at any given moment, I would drown. How could I let go of all the confusion swirling around me when I couldn’t even get dressed by myself? How was I to live my life when everything around me was in turmoil? How was I supposed to keep going?
I decided to make two different lists on my computer. At the top of one page I wrote “Things I can’t do” and began writing down everything I could think of. Things like work a full-time job, walk to the mailbox and sign my name without dropping the pen. I know some people will say that’s being too negative, but hang with me for a minute.
It was an easy list for me to compile and grew quicker than I thought possible…really quick. I was doing my best to hold back the tears as I saw my limitations and disease progression being documented in front of me.
I then switched my focus to the other page. At the top I wrote “Things I can do.” At first I just sat and stared at the blankness of it all. I had a hard time even coming up with one thing to fill the space. I decided to shut out everything around me and simply write down the first thing that popped into my head. That first thing just so happened to be “I can laugh.” That was the first thing I wrote down on my can-do list.
Before long, the list grew and eventually it outnumbered the can’t do list. I discovered during my list making that not only can I laugh, but I can nap more than once in a day, pimp out my wheelchair giving it a coolness factor, watch reruns of “I Love Lucy” at midnight as if I’ve never seen them before, and have an excuse for getting out of helping someone move. I realized I could also make up amazing new words, fall up the stairs not just down them, and still remember the theme song to the Animaniacs.
My limitations suddenly became smaller and smaller. I found I could do so much more than I gave myself credit for. I thought of many regular things too, like make a sandwich, change the sheets on my bed, cut my toenails, and vacuum the floor. Granted I may be slower doing them and complete them in very unconventional and creative ways, but I can do them and that’s what matters.
I had been so focused on the things I couldn’t do that I was missing all the things I was still capable of doing. That day my life changed. I started to look at life differently. I started to look at MS differently. It’s almost as if I went to the eye doctor and got a new pair of glasses. I was seeing everything brighter and with more clarity.
Which list are you focusing on? Are you more apt to put all your focus on the things you can’t do or on things you can do? Try it. Make your own list. Embrace the life that you have right now. Focus on what you CAN do…so focused that your can-do list far outweighs any other list you could possibly make. I think you will be amazed at just how many things you find you are capable of doing.