Acceptance May Mean Saying "No"
It was a dream job. One of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to do meaningful work you enjoy with people you respect at a generous salary. Those jobs are rare to begin with but when you’re, like me, at the end of your career, they are all but nonexistent.
I truly tried to figure out how to do it. I had even convinced myself that I could do it even if it occasionally meant the 70 to 80 hour week, frequent travel and high levels of stress. I liked the person who would be my boss. I appreciated the talent and dedication of my fellow co-workers. I could make a difference. It would pay incredibly well. I really, really wanted that job.
In an earlier article, I wrote that acceptance is not submission. And I have accepted the fact that I have a chronic disease that has cost me four joint replacements and two spinal fusions in the last 10 years (and numerous other surgeries). Unfortunately, that also means accepting the fact that I can no longer work those intense jobs that demand the balance of my life shifts from work-life to work-work.
I had convinced myself I could do the job because I’m doing well. But I am doing well because every six weeks I go in for an infusion of what is essentially chemotherapy as well as inject a powerful drug at home. I am able to take time to exercise, sleep, and eat a generally healthy diet. I am doing well because I have accepted the fact that I have a chronic disease and I am managing it. At the point that I abandon that management plan, then I also abandon any hope that my RA will be reasonably well controlled.
Sometimes it Doesn’t Mean “No” but “Maybe”
I once heard another RA advocate talk about going to a wedding. He could no longer dance, he said, but he could go and listen to the music and enjoy other people dancing. Just because he couldn’t have the whole experience, didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy many parts of it.
I’ve reminded myself of those words of wisdom many times in my RA journey.
So I’ve turned down the full-time position. I have to say it hurt because I wanted it a lot. But I’ve pitched the company a “Plan B” that gets them what they need but also allows me to participate at a level I think I can actually manage. If they accept it (and I think they will) I will still get to work with great people, made a difference to the company, and make extra income. I won’t be the highly paid rock star, but, in the words of my friend, I’ll be there enjoying the music and other people dancing. One of the hardest parts was explaining to these people who believe(d) I was a rock star that I have a chronic health condition and so I might not be Superwoman after all.
We so often get caught up in saying “yes” to people that we sometimes forget that, for our own sakes, we should occasionally say “no” (even to things we really, really want). But what we shouldn’t forget is that we can also say “maybe.” If we offer people a solution that works for them as well as for us, it’s amazing how many times they’ll accept it. I’ve been finding this out lately.
And remember, even if you can’t dance at the wedding, you can still enjoy the music.
When was your last flare?