Before my accident, there were ten thousand things I could do. I could spend the rest of my life dwelling on the things I had lost, but instead I chose to focus on the nine thousand I still had left.
-W. Mitchell

From the forward by Belleruth Naparstek in "Healing Words for the Body, Mind and Spirit," by Caren Golman":

Getting diagnosed with a life-changing or life-threatening illness presents such a confusing rush of odd, contradictory reactions. Sitting in my therapist's chair for over thirty years, I've been afforded a powerful look into the fear, grief, elation, shame, relief and anger that gets turned loose inside a person's weary, shell-shocked body when confronted with bad news.

We all carry a basic, narcissistic belief that it can't happen to us. This is how we get through the arbitrary dangers of the day, after all-by assuming we are cloaked in magical protection that renders us immune from the ugliness and bad fortune we see landing on others.

And because we cherish our fantasy that we are in control of our lives-especially dear to us citizens of the West-we tend to believe that our luck has been earned, through good character and smart choices.

So the news of illness catalyzes a disorienting undoing of some of our most closely held assumptions about ourselves and our lives. Like Alice, we fall topsy-turvy down the rabbit hole and land, naked and trembling, in an entirely new place. It's weird territory, where the old rules and definitions simply don't apply. Strange and scary as it is, though, it's also exciting, life-changing and god-awful interesting.

If we're lucky, our painful circumstances become a riveting invitation for growth and spiritual awakening on a newer, deeper level. As with all undoings, we've been handed an opportunity to reexamine and recreate ourselves, to reaffirm or redefine our sense of meaning and purpose. Any artist knows that deconstruction has its payoffs, and we are, of course, the artists of our lives.

* * *

Also on Beliefnet:

  • How Illness Can Provide a Path to Transformation

  • Sign up

    to receive Health & Happiness insights in your inbox everyday.

    more from beliefnet and our partners
    Close Ad