Every experience we have and everything we do teaches us something about ourselves, the messages are always there if we care to listen, sometimes in the spoken word of others, sometimes in their actions towards us and sometimes just our own learning.
And so it was with my few days away this week.
On Saturday Trevor and I travelled down to Hythe nr Southampton to see my cousin and her husband. This had been planned for a while and I was really looking forward to seeing her as well as feeling some trepidation as I never know from one day to the next how I am going to be, but this was Sharon, she knows me better than I know myself at times and is so easy to be with and although I had thrown a few Wobblies about going away I knew I would be ok with her.
I had also arranged a two day trip to the Isle of Wight to meet someone who had become a very dear friend through twitter, again I had reservations about going, I talk quite freely about my condition but to actually meet with someone takes some courage on my part.
I must say here that if I was as aware of myself as I like to think I am I would have known how accepting of my condition and therefore of myself I have become as a year ago I wouldn't have dreamed of meeting someone like this so that was a positive I had completely missed at the time.
On the Saturday evening we all discussed the changes in the welfare system that this government are bringing in and I explained why I personally had become so active in fighting parts of it, I became quite animated explaining it as I tend to do these days when attempting to get others to understand what these changes mean to the disabled community. Several times Sharon seemed quite troubled by the words I was using and how personally I was taking it all.
On the Sunday Sharon and I went out by ourselves for a while and left the men doing a bit of gardening and Sharon took this opportunity to explain her concerns to me.
One of our regular discussions has always been on 'who are we?' the roles we play in life etc, because we have always been so close to each other there is a bond there that gives us both insight I suppose into the other and the freedom of being able to talk about anything together.
Sharon pointed out that I talk now as if the disability or 'my condition' as I describe it is all I seem to think I am these days, or I am this condition and nothing else.
The passion in my writing comes out more when it involves this condition, the way I think about life revolves around this condition.
To a certain extent that has to be the way of things now but I suddenly heard what she was saying, I had lost sight of the fact that I was so much more than this condition, I am still a mother, still a nan, still a wife etc, the disability is a part of who I now am but by no means ALL that I am.
My fear over what this government was doing to disabled people had made me highlight my own medical condition in my mind to the near exclusion of everything else.
I talk all the time about acceptance, particularly acceptance of your bodies failings through ill health but I had missed the point here of my own teachings, acceptance means accepting you have something wrong, accepting what your limitations are and then moving on, I completely ignored the moving on stage.
It took my cousin gently pointing out that I Was still me, still Penny, still the same person as I ever was for me to realise just how entrenched I had become in 'living' the condition. Sure, things have changed, circumstances have changed, things I can and can't do have changed but I, Me, the person inside, I haven't changed, becoming disabled hasn't taken these other things away from me, it's become yet another part of me, I don't have to 'live' it, I have to live with it....there's a huge difference there.
Thanks to my lovely cousin for holding a mirror up and showing me me!
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