|Adventures of an Incurable Optimist|
Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it.
Michael J. Fox
I stumbled through Michael J. Fox's return to television where we were continually taught the "lesson" and acceptance that we have no control, and life gets better when we acknowledge such lesson. Over and over and over again in a quirky thirty minute poorly written sit com the actor kept reminding us that we can't control what always happens in life but we can control how we handle it...got it, got it loud and clear. The thing is, on an interview Michael J. Fox discussed how he realized he could continue to work as an actor as long as that actor had Parkinson's. This is the sad truth when you take off those rosy colored "you can't control life just go with it" glasses, most people aren't actors and if they get Parkinson's they can't re-write their career into a part that does. This ability to care for and provide for your family or self is one of the most devastating parts of chronic illness, and for the majority of sufferers the illness robs the ability to continue what brought us some sense of control and security, work.
That is how I feel lately, such loss of control with illness, and more importantly the inability to wonder if necessary could you possibly support yourself? Last week I found out my regular help was giving me her two weeks notice due to some family concerns. I was paralyzed in fear. The immediate problem was magnified that I had the dates of her return from her vacation mixed up, so my parents had just left, my best friend was out of town for another week, my other dear friend broke her leg and is bed ridden, all my "people" except one were gone...and I couldn't do it without them. COULD NOT. Not, would not, not sure, not oh it will be difficult, no, could not period. That is a feeling that will drop you to your knees and feel like a lost child in the middle of a city. The reality that my mom needed to turn around and fly back out to Phoenix is a big mirror of loss of control.
That email of resignation exploded all my fears with this illness, the dependency. I never can get myself far removed from the financial constraints this illness took on, especially the help. So it was a double edge sword, not only loosing the person I trusted and that I felt emotionally comfortable with, but it was getting hit with a Mack Truck of reality how much I required and needed such help. I have been forced to let go of much control and have learned many good lessons out of it's necessity. However, unlike Mr. Fox, we can't insert ourselves into a new script that fits our new circumstances. We re-write the script, and some days we write it better than others. However, some if it must lie on the cutting room floor, with only hopes and dreams of a re-write.
Now please, do not for a moment think I am a MJF hater. Quite the opposite, I actually sat through both half hour episodes of misery out of reverence for him. I even cringed wondering if he was cringing too at the final result, here I am feeling bad for him, because he is so much better than that show.
However, as all of us know suffering traumatic illnesses acute or chronic sometimes the "lesson" from someone in a different stratosphere of wealth and opportunities in the career he loves just feels a bit forced. He taught me much more by teaching nothing in his guest episodes of the Good Wife, he showed up. Glennon from Momastery
uses that term a lot...he SHOWED UP. That was the vulnerable first step exposing himself as an actor playing a lawyer so shrewdly. Showing how he made his lemonade out of lemons. He taught me more in his quest for Happiness by traveling to a remote village and again experiencing the unknown. But that half hour of "isn't it just aw shucks I have Parkinson's but look how I can't control that and am still HAPPY" just made me depressed.
I felt robbed of the opportunity for MJF to make something real, and funny and inspiring. The viewers lost the arc of the journey and they fast forwarded to this "inspiring" end, but it left me feeling quite uninspired. If he just wanted to be funny, just be funny. If he wanted to not make it about Parkinson's then don't make it about Parkinson's. The thing about the Michael J Fox show is it in my opinion had little resemblance to the truly inspirational Michael J Fox.
The last few days I have been clothed in a cape of numbness and on days like these at some point you give in. You decide to be grateful for a sip of Coke and the crappy ham sandwich that you have eaten like a prisoner on a bland routine diet. You find a way in all that is lost to at least wash some pans, make a batch of cookies and be grateful that you are not in bed, even though you don't feel grateful - you fake it. You breathe. You let go of the disciplined control of glass half full optimism and hope and you sink into the loss of control and the dark days it brings, knowing tomorrow there is always hope and today well today it's okay to not feel it. It is in these dark moments of loss I feel a quiet kinship with Michael J. Fox and thankful that there are loads of eternal optimists to turn to on our half empty kind of days and for that I will continue to listen, learn and be grateful to what Mr. Fox says, I just probably won't tune into NBC to hear it.
What does the Fox say?
Check out the viral video that will make you laugh and get in your head as seen on Ellen...