Getting past “why me”

Suffering is the result of insisting that something be other than it is. ~ Ezra Bayda

Do you ever find yourself saying “why me”? or “it’s just not fair”?

I can honestly say I haven’t said those words since I was a child. As I grew up it didn’t take me long to realise that life isn’t fair and so by the time I heard the words “you’ve got cancer” it never occurred to me to think the old why me thought. Instead I thought, why not me?

I came across a piece written by Anne Mattos-Leedom recently which addresses this life isn’t fair syndrome. Just like the Ezra Bayda quote above, Mattos-Leedom writes that

 life will be less of a struggle when you accept that no matter how well you take care of yourself, nurture your relationships and protect your children, bad things do happen to smart and careful people. Staying stuck in that pain keeps us in the place of ‘life isn’t fair’. It is only in coming to terms with our grief and realizing that everyone suffers at one time or another that we can move on…. Our part is to do the best we can and then to see past the moment into the bigger picture and knowing that ultimately what happens if part of that plan. Often things are much fairer then we realize at the time. That is where faith comes in.

This last part reminds me of the parable I told recently of the old man and the horse. If you remember this chinese parable illustrated the point that we are not always able to see  what is ultimately good or bad in any given situation until some time has passed. “All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

Mattos-Leedom also believes that our sense of ‘it’s not fair’ often comes from the need to control things in our life that in spite of our best efforts we simply do not have ultimate control over. We learn this lesson the hard way when we’ve had a diagnosis of cancer thrown at us – we feel our bodies, which we believed we were in control of, have let us down. I also learned a hard lesson after cancer when I tried to control my fertility. Mattos-Leedom advises that we need to develop a healthy balance between giving things your best effort and then understanding ultimately it is out of your control. Put your efforts into the process but learn to let go of the need to control the outcome. This is where the practise of mindfulness can really help.

Mattos-Leedom also advises

whatever issues are troubling you are most likely issues many others are also struggling with as well. Don’t isolate yourself, which can lead to a crippling sense of life being unfair. When you share your pain and circumstances with others and realize you are not alone, you can turn the sense of “it isn’t fair” into compassion and eventually, action to let go.

I absolutely agree with this point. I found sharing my worries, concerns and milestones with other cancer patients at the cancer support centre really helped me feel less alone and less why me. Since then I have made new friends and connections all over the globe through blogging. They know what I mean when I lament lasting effects like “chemo brain”, when my fears of recurrence surface, when I feel down, or feel happy with each cancerversary.

I will leave the last word to the author who says:

Sometimes the best way to get past the life “isn’t fair” syndrome is to accept that life is indeed unfair in many cases. We will see others succeed that don’t seem to deserve it. It is only in truly accepting that we don’t know the whole picture—or why things happen as they do–that we can move on. It is not for any of us to say why things happen as they do. Let go of the idea you have total control and you might find that the only time fairness enters your world is when it relates to how you treat others. Life may not be fair, but you can be fair—and be the best human being you can be.