By Alene Brennan
Today marks the third year of my mother’s passing after a 10-year battle with cancer.
Just six weeks after she passed, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
It was hard enough to grieve the loss of her absence in my daily life. But now having my own diagnosis to process, I needed her more than ever.
I was scared.
I was angry.
I was overwhelmed.
And she was my person.
She always made herself available when I needed to talk. She truly listened. And always gave me new perspective. She didn’t try to solve every problem, but she always helped me have a better understand and outlook on it.
That’s when I realized even though I couldn’t have her here to talk to directly, she already taught me everything I needed to know about managing a chronic illness like MS.
How she lived her life and my memory of that was about to become my roadmap for living with MS.
Here’s what I believe she would remind me of today, in my journey of multiple sclerosis.
Emotions are part of the human experience. To deny our emotions only bottles them up and creates further “dis-ease.” Allow yourself to have pity parties.
Whatever emotion you’re experiencing, allow yourself to feel it.
I can remember mornings that she would cry at the breakfast table. She allowed herself to get out a few tears or a good cry – whatever the moment called for – and then she would move on.
She always ended her pity parties with a couple deep breaths and then move on with her day.
Always Do Your Best
When you’re living with an illness like cancer or MS, every day can be different. So, it’s important to be flexible with what your “best” looks like each day. Nonetheless, you have to be resilient in showing up every day to give it your best.
Some days, when you have the strength but not necessarily the motivation, you have to rally yourself to move your body through some exercise.
Other days when you have the motivation but not the strength, you have to “give into it and just rest.” This was often the message she would share with me because I always took on too much and had more work than play in my life.
So, I think of her when I need to rally and when I need to rest.
Change Your Perspective
“You can’t control other people or a situation, but you can control your perspective.”
That was one of Mom’s classic lines.
Regardless of what was going on, how can I change my perspective on a situation so I could focus on acceptance or a solution?
So, as I craved the opportunity to talk to her or just get a reassuring hug from her, I changed my perspective knowing that she already taught me everything I needed to know to live well with MS.
She lived her life in a way that I am honored to call her my mom and so grateful for the lessons she taught me that still keep me going.
*Alene Brennan works with individuals living with MS and other autoimmune diseases to create a diet and lifestyle that will support their healing and disease management. She holds four certifications: nutrition coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and natural food chef. You can learn more about her work and follow her blog, recipes, and more at www.alenebrennan.com. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook, too!