I’ve been struggling for quite some time with a progressive neurological disease called Essential Tremor that is destroying my ability to use my hands. After two surgeries to implant electrodes into my brain with wires attached to electrical stimulators in my abdomen (Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS surgery), I theoretically should have significantly better use of my hands. In fact, I do. Or at least I would if I could use the DBS stimulators. Unfortunately, it seems like the DBS stimulators has caused me to develop a burning mouth syndrome, which my neurologist diagnosed as “trigeminal neuropathy”. My neurologist, who is one of the top DBS specialists in the country has never heard of this happening to anyone. On top of that, I have also developed some moderate to severe pain in both my arms, making it even more difficult to use my hands for anything. Just typing this post is causing excruciating pain in my hands and arms.
Why am I struggling to share the boring details of this journey with you??? I’ve been up and down, into a dark abyss and clawing my way back out to re-engage in life before the next unexpected turn drags me back down again. As I look around, I can’t cry out “Why me?”, because most places I look I see people struggling with something in their lives. Let’s face it, at various times, life is damn difficult, sometimes even horrendous.
I recently had an epiphany as I realized how much effort I put into struggling and fighting against how things are not what they’re “supposed to be”. This isn’t the way it was supposed to go with my physical health. My life wasn’t supposed to be limited in this way. My family is supposed to be close and connected, not divided with strife. Our country is suppose to be united, not riddled with divisiveness and violence. People are supposed to be able to live in peace, not have their lives shattered and loved ones murdered by their own government. I’ve been in deep despair experiencing the shattering of my body, my dreams, my life, my family, my society and our global community . . . until I realized that I am suffering and struggling against so many things I cannot change and over which I have no control.
While showering the other day, the serenity prayer came to my mind. Now I’m not typically an affirmation kind of gal. Affirmations feel kind of cliché-y to me; they just don’t touch my soul on that deep level that feels authentic and speaks to who I am. I am not a one-size-fits all kind of person. However, when the serenity prayer popped into my mind, my heart cried “YES!” in response. In this moment, that’s my mantra.
So as I was journaling this morning, I started typing the serenity prayer . . . “Lord, grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change . . . ” Wait, that’s not right, is it? The serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . . Except it takes courage to accept the things we cannot change. So I looked it up and found a longer version of the serenity prayer. However, some of the longer version just didn’t resonate with me. It just didn’t `speak to me in a deep, authentic way. Some of it did, but not all of it. Instead of taking the shortened version of the prayer, or adopting what didn’t ring true for me, I wrote my own serenity prayer that speaks from the depth of my soul, inspired by the full version of the “official” serenity prayer. I’m sharing my version below.
I invite you to write your own serenity prayer, inspired by whatever deeply touches your soul. Maybe we should each have our own serenity prayer, one that feels authentically true to our own hearts, that holds us up when we are sinking into our dark abyss, that inspires us to live up to our highest values and our best selves.
Spirit, Higher Self,
Grant me the strength and courage to bear the things I cannot change
To have the dignity to stop fighting against it
Help me to gain the peace and serenity to accept what I cannot control or change
Grant me the courage to honestly face the things I can influence and impact
with the energy and tenacity to change them,
whether the change needs to happen within me or in the world
Let me have the wisdom to know when to accept and when to fight for change
Fully living one day at a time
BEing with what IS
Appreciating the beauty present in each moment
Accepting hardships as the journey my soul intended for me in this life
Taking this world as it is, not as I would have it
Trusting that there is a higher perspective than the one I can currently see
Help me to feel gratitude for my many blessings
And to increase the love and peace in this world
And so it shall be
This in no way is intended to suggest that we sit by silently in the face of injustice. We absolutely MUST speak out and work to change what we can in ourselves and in society.