Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Elephant

Tonny's just left, after another highly successful Saturday brunch. Last night Brad and Andrea came over; we cooked a terrific dinner, the three of us. Later today Kate will come by with Phil and the boys. We'll grill some steaks for us and make some hot dogs for the kids. The weekends are always a busy social time for me. I love it.

If you want to see what is good in my life, just look at the people around me. There is not a day goes by when I don't hear from someone, see someone, spend time with someone. While ALS puts me in a pretty lonely and frightened place, I have people around me who consistently lift me out of that space. Between Home Care Workers, friends, family, neighbours and others, I have an active social life. That's a big part of what keeps me going.

The biggest challenge I have is my self-centeredness, driven mostly by my lifestyle these days. When I was healthy, I had little need of this focus on self, although it has always been a part of my personality. With ALS, my focus has largely been on myself and my illness. This, in large part, is because there is nothing else in my life. I have no job. I have no partner. I have only limited outside activity. All I really have to talk about is ALS and my life.

When others come over, I have to work hard to focus on them, to ask them about their lives. As Andrea noted yesterday, when it comes to comparing and sharing, I win, hands down, for the worst story. But they all have stories too. Everyone around me has their own issues, struggles, needs. Everyone wants to share their stories too.

Listening is a hard learned skill for me. I have always struggled with my tendency to jump in, to interrupt, to speak before the other person has finished talking. It's even more difficult with ALS as the centre of all I am, of all I do. It's like carrying around an elephant, but trying not to say much about it. Everyone knows about the elephant; it's a highly visible problem. Yet they have their own "elephants"; maybe not as big, maybe not as visible, certainly not as life changing.

I am going to continue to work hard on listening, on watching for the other elephants, large and small, that others deal with. Just because I have ALS, I don't have a lock on difficulty, frustration, loneliness, fear. These things are in all of our lives. Mine is just a bit more visible, that's all.

1 comment:

  1. What I have noticed from the last year plus I've been following you, that you indeed have a good fair amount of friends who make it a point of interacting with you. That must say a lot about you as a person.