All this year I have repeated myself, each time thinking I was saying something new. I wrote the same blog post multiple times without realizing it until after I hit “publish.” I mourned my body's changes over and over again. I said I needed to accept it, but I couldn't. Then I said it again, surprising myself with the slow realization that I'd said it before.
Yes, I am about to do it again.
In broad strokes, here is the story of my 2015. I tried fighting MS. I tried an extreme diet that might have helped but I could not live with it. I tried mind over matter; believing that I didn’t have MS or that I could will it away. I tried meditating; I tried supplements, I tried medication. My MS got worse. Maybe I failed, or maybe it didn’t matter what I did because MS is a medical disease and not a spiritual condition, a choice, or an imaginary friend.
So I gave up, which is to say I accepted everything. This does not mean I lie in bed all day and eat ice cream. It means I am changing the story I tell myself. It means doing what I can, when I can. It means moving beyond the repetitive cycle of mourning and denying. It means celebrating unconventional victories.
One of my goals for 2015 was to run 10 miles without encountering the MS symptoms that affect my legs. It’s now December 31st and I can only run 3 miles if I don't take walking breaks. But I did figure out how to cover 8 miles; I run three-quarters of each mile and walk the rest, then repeat. I also learned how to change my stride in the later miles of a run so that I don’t trip and fall. These are victories, but only if I accept them as such.
I’m looking forward to 2016 because the practice of accepting has given me confidence. I’m not as scared as I was. I am not finished with the work of accepting, because things will continue to change, but now I know I can do it. Next year will not be about learning to cope with life; it will be about living.