“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.” – Brene Brown
One of the hardest pills I’ve had to swallow is the uncertainty that comes with a chronic illness. There I was … a new mom … with a new career … living the dream … until WHAM! A doctor slaps me with words like systemic lupus erythematosus and undifferentiated connective tissue disorder and antiphospholipid antibodies. With the final blow being there is no cure.
I can’t remember what my plans were before getting socked in the gut. But if any words can make you feel uncertain, it’s those.
Suddenly my thoughts were tangled. Will I be able to have another child? Will I ever have the energy to provide for my family? Can I be the kind of mom I want to be? What if my clients find out? What if my brain fog gets worse? Will my symptoms ever get better? Can I go to the beach? Why me?
Today I started thinking about this uncertainty and boo-hooing about how much it sucks to be me. But then, my brain went Click. And I realized that just being alive is uncertain. There’s no such thing as certainty—outside of dying, of course. And I ain’t there yet.
In fact, I realized that, at the root of everything wonderful in my life, there was uncertainty.
Think about it: Were you certain the first boy you kissed would kiss you back? Did the job you love today come tied with a bow marked You Will Most Certainly Love It?
Dealing with Uncertainty
Brown makes a few suggestions on how you can lean into uncertainty in this blog post. She suggests three things that you can do to embrace uncertainty.
The first? Pay attention to what makes you feel better (and worse). For Brown, feeling better comes down to self care. Something any person dealing with chronic illness should always keep in mind.
Number two is to create an emotional clearing. To Brown, this means finding moments of quiet (meditation, prayer, nature) to reconnect with your intuition. It reminded me of this quote by Carolyn Myss:
“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.”
The third is to find support. She reminds us that it’s normal to feel vulnerable during times of change. But she also says that uncertainty is a necessary part of getting where we need to go.
Maybe it’s not illness that Brown was talking about when she suggests we embrace the vulnerability of uncertainty. But lupus or not, life is uncertain. Bad stuff may come … but it’s where everything that’s wonderful comes from, too.