Friday, 8 November 2013

The Universe Delivers the Lessons

Last night we went out for dinner.  It was really quite nice and the food was great but the reason why I'm posting is because something interesting happened while we were there. I was taught a profound lesson in compassion and tolerance 100% relevant to my own life and current situation without even getting up from the table.

The couple at the table next to ours were in their 60's. They weren't married (at least not to each other) and it seemed as if it must be relatively fresh into their relationship.  She was loud and a strong woman. Her voice cut through the restaurant and she was hard to ignore. As soon as they sat down she grabbed my atterntion  because she kept using swear words and I was noting my own reaction to them. I thought it was crass and unnecessary and I was glad that I outgrew any form of swearing with adolescence. It made her seem uglier to me even though otherwise she was a sophisticated lady.

When people hear Fabri and I speaking English, they often assume that you just can't understand Italian at all and proceed to talk about you, or your child openly with their company.  This too happened... luckily they were talking about how nice Sera was behaving and a little bit about the difference between a Nintendo and an Ipad.

We continued or meal.

But then I head the word autoimmunity.

A new conversation had begun at the next table over and the woman began asking, no, interviewing the man about the subject.  How do you catch it? Why does it happen? Is it transmittable to others? What is the outcome? How can it be cured? Will a child get it if its parents do? Why is it hard to diagnose? Does it go away?

The answers popping into my own head to her questions were synchronised with his and I began to wonder if I should interrupt them and start asking him my own questions. Perhaps he was an expert in the field?  But then I decided to just listen and let them get on with their evening considering I'm currently satisfied with my level of care.

I listened and listened and after about 15 minutes I realised why the universe had brought these two to the table next to mine to have that conversation. I had something to learn.  In the past I have been impatient with my husband, mother, relatives, friends and acquaintances when talking about my autoimmune disease.  I have been frustrated that they haven't believed me when I explain that I am doing my best to take care of myself and that there's no quick cure or special doctor that I can just call.  I have felt accused by them of not wanting to get better... I have taken their suggestions on diet and exercises and rest as insults.  I have pushed them away because of it.

Watching this crass and classy woman ask impartial questions to this man who either was or wasn't a doctor, two strangers, set off a light bulb in my head.  The only reason why the people who love me ask questions or make suggestions or doubt what I tell them about my disease is because they just don't know anything about it.  I suddenly realised that I really am an expert on autoimmune diseases (at least my own small collection of them) due to my vast 13 years of experience in the field.  How on earth can I expect a friend or relative who's only just hearing that these diseases exist or only now coming into contact with someone who has one to possibly understand as thoroughly as I do what it means and the road I've had to travel towards accepting it?  My heart suddenly opened up to this woman with the loud voice whom I was judging moments before as well as to everyone who has ever taken the time to even talk with me about my disease.  I was wrong to place my anger, fear and sorrow on you all. I will try to do better.

On another note, the revelation has made me so much more compassionate and sympathetic to other people's individual situations.  I can't possibly comprehend what it means to be anyone else or to be in their skin.  I can't possibly ever assume to know what someone is living or feeling. None of us can.  We're each so completely unique and have our own gifts and challenges in this life. I suddenly understood that it would serve me well to have more humility in my encounters with others and to always assume that I don't know anything about them or their lives... It's clear now that this is accurate more of the time than assuming that I know everything about them and their lives!

I find it amazing when the universe teaches you a lesson that you so desperately needed to learn, even if you didn't know it before hand. Keep your eyes open for these lessons!  Last night was proof that they do come! They're probably the most valuable ones we'll ever learn.

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