Chronic health conditions can so quickly lead to isolation - physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual. In my first experience as a caregiver, I felt very isolated. People did not intend to leave me hanging. They did not understand my needs, and I did not know how to ask for support, and even what to ask for. There was simply no energy to make the ask. It was one step forward and two steps back on some days. I also found that once the novelty of the crisis wore off for those around me, the isolation became even deeper. We are a quick fix society, aren’t we? A diagnosis that will not be healed to return us to our original state of health in the foreseeable future is a chronic diagnosis. We are challenged to reframe relationships, beliefs, assumptions, and dreams into a new vision for the future. Friends and family may find it uncomfortable to be deeply involved in a situation that cannot be “fixed” and they pull away in subtle ways. Others may try to stay with you, but find it difficult having no personal frame of reference from which to offer authentic and helpful support. A chronic diagnosis often leads to days with a lot of moving parts so even if life seems “reframed” one week, the next week is a new picture. Friends and family can become weary. Heck, you become weary but there is no option for you to pull away.
When AWBA launched over one year ago, our first offering was an on-line retreat that spanned an 8-week period, "Beginning Again - Benedictine Wisdom for Living With Illness." This program served caregivers and those with chronic disease and brought together people from across the United States and Canada. The feedback was so positive for this program that it is being offered again beginning in October. Some of you may have found your way to supportive on-line communities and understand their value as a piece of your support network. Others may wonder how community can be established without in-person interaction. I wondered this myself until I experienced it personally. We are hungry for support, for community, for authentic sharing, and for a place to be honest with our questions - no judgment, no one offering quick fix answers. This confidential environment based on the theme of beginning again sets the environment for a safe and sacred container for those on a similar journey. Visit our website at www.myawba.org for more information about this program and consider joining us for this retreat. If you have particular concerns or questions, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the AWBA website.
We are not created to journey in isolation.