Recently, I find myself less willing and sometimes overwhelmed with responsibilities to others that I always assumed was my duty. In the past that is the dynamic that I have put forth.
I thought I would share with you my thoughts from a different perspective about the new seeds that are springing fresh life into the old landscape of our attitudes and relationships. Selfishness has always been a negative word for me. It was only recently that the world received the good news that a degree of it is not only okay, but an important ingredient in living a full life and its presence-or lack of it-can make a difference in both the big and small issues in your life.
The true cost of self-denial is high. In failing to put our own needs first, we hope or assume others will give to us as we give to them. But they don’t always. And an unhealthy dynamic begins.
Many see healthy selfishness as a higher level of mental function that can help you reach your full potential. People who practice healthy selfishness have a zest for living, a joy that comes from savoring one’s accomplishments.
Healthy selfishness opens the door to a life of freedom-freedom from being ruled by the opinions and demands of others as well as freedom from the voices in your own mind, often left over from childhood.
Healthy selfishness involves accepting your weaknesses and imperfections without beating yourself up. It means nurturing yourself and loving yourself unconditionally.
Put yourself in control. Here are your options:
Small steps. (i.e.) Don’t offer your significant other the television remote right away when beginning an evening of television together.
Longer Strides. (i.e.) Don’t offer your significant other the television remote.
Life-changing leaps. (i.e.) Hide the remote in a safe place and then hold it securely in your hand and control it all evening.
Excerpt from Read Between My Lines by Sandra Hart Myartisansway Press 2007 copyright
(Sandra Hart is the former Ms. Sandra of the children’s television program Romper Room and is a working actress, award-winning author of Behind The Magic Mirror and Places Within My Heart and is a motivational speaker. She lives in New Jersey and South Beach with her husband and is “Nana” to four fantastic grandchildren.)
Copyright Sandra Hart All Rights Reserved
In April 2003 at the age of 64 I was competing in 5K races. In August of that same year, just four months later, I woke up one morning and I could hardly get out of bed because my muscles hurt me so much. Throughout the weeks that followed my muscles became weaker and I honestly felt as though I was dying. I had no energy and could hardly make it through the day. I couldn’t even lift myself up from a sitting position without effort and even walking without severe pain in my leg muscles was impossible. I had been so healthy. I was always conscious of what I put into my body. I was a vegetarian and had never smoked and was an unforgivable ‘tea totaler’. I had always been able to do activities with ease for a person feeling much younger than my years. Why me?
My doctors tested for everything from lupus to leukemia, but it wasn’t until I went to Florida and got the advice of Dr. Robert Hoffman, head of the lupus clinic at Jackson Memorial Hospital, that I got a very quick and precise diagnosis. I was suffering from polymyalgia rheumatica, an overnight onset illness that affects mostly women over 50.
Because not enough of the population suffer from this illness the drug companies are reluctant to do any type of research about it’s onset and whether it’s genetic or viral. The Mayo Clinic did one study but they were never able to find the cause. They just know that it’s a disease that causes inflammation and weakness of the muscles.
In my personal research on PMR I scoured the Internet for information which provided little insight on the root of this illness. I also called all of my cousins on both my mother and father’s side to see whether any of them had suffered anything like this or any of their mothers. I came up empty.
The course of treatment is to take prednisone, an anti-inflammatory drug. Prednisone also has many undesirable side effects, some of which include weight gain, loss of bone (osteoporosis), cataracts and puffiness in the face. As a woman, the face puffiness, that was the worst emotional side effect for me, other than feeling that I had lost my youth and stamina. It was the weight gain and that facial distortion because of the prednisone (as indicated in the cover photos of Katherine Turner and me before and after). I had remembered seeing pictures of the actress when her face was blown up and she seemed like she had gained a lot of weight and became quite distorted from her earlier beautiful appearance.
It was her medication. Katherine suffers from one of the most severe arthritic illnesses. When the ravaging effects of rheumatoid arthritis – a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints – and the drugs used to control it caused her to bloat and gain weight, her looks changed, just as mine did.
Because of my frustration with lack of information on PMR I decided to build a very complete informational website concerning this illness that others might be able to use as a reference. Through this website I was contacted by Arthritis Today, a wonderful monthly magazine dealing with all types of arthritis illnesses. They wanted to do an article on me since PMR is a not widely known illness and is considered to be a type of arthritic condition. When the article, Act Two, came out my puffed up face was in full view of the world. I felt terrible, but I also knew my sharing of my story would hopefully help others.
But there was a pot of gold at the end of the PMR road waiting fir me six years later because my illness, unlike Katharine Turner’s had a very lucky natural outcome. One night while I was sleeping, it disappeared overnight. I was off prednisone at last and soon I returned to looking like myself once again. My doctors say that when polymyalgia rheumatica has run its course, it should never ever come back again. Twelve years later that has proven to be true, at least in my case.
I don’t know exactly what the moral of my story should be because sometimes we face things that we have no control over. There are no quick solutions sometimes. So I guess what my final thoughts are is that life can throw us wrenches and we either have to except it and go on with our lives or give in.
My choice was not to give in, but to find answers, not only for myself, but for others as well – to share my experience so that they too would not be in the darkness like I was when I was first diagnosed.
Sandra Hart© All Rights Reserved