Collaborating with My Wolf (part 1)

Acceptance is hard. Very hard. Even when it logically doesn’t seem it would be. Wedding proposal accepted? Accepted to a great college? Lots of big changes follow. But even with all the excitement and (hopefully) support, information, and extra hands, you may still find yourself on the threshold thinking, “Wow! Is this really happening? Am I even ready for this?”

Acceptance is the final stage of Kübler-Ross’ Stages of Grief, originally formulated with regard to terminally ill patients. I thought I had lupus long before my diagnosis. I really wanted to be wrong. Finding out I was right did not fast track me past denial, straight to acceptance. Lupus is a serious, chronic disease, that can be fatal, although most with lupus live normal lifespans. My Dread Disease, as I’ve half-jokingly dubbed my immune system 180° more than once, doesn’t (usually) feel terminal. But it has been disabling. At times, debilitating. And transformative. Truly accepting this reality is an ongoing process. At least for me.

Lupus is Latin for wolf. Supposedly, the disease was so named because the hallmark facial rash resembles the “mask” of a wolf’s face. There is some debate about that name origin, which I will not be discussing here. You’re welcome.

This is an introduction to my philosophy of accepting and living with chronic illness. While the core of this blog is about learning to work with my inner wolf, aka lupus, I will also address disability, identity, medicine, creativity, trauma, mental health, women’s issues, and whatever else I think relates. There will be stupid jokes. And dog photos. I love dogs!

And I love wolves. Always have. All critters. Nature specials are my jam! I want to be reincarnated as Sir David Attenborough, the celebrated naturalist. That’s a joke. Maybe. I also want an Afro. Sir David Attenborough but with the looks of Erykah Badu. Ok, that’s a joke.

Demonizing wolves never sat well with me, even as a child. It seemed to me that the big, bad wolf was only bad because it was acting as a human predator would, instead of as a wolf. I’m not saying wolves aren’t scary. They deserve our respect. But they’re not bad because they’re predators any more than sheep are good because they’re prey.

My point is … I have come to accept that as scary and wild as my lupus is, the only way to live well with my wolf is to embrace it. I do not want to fight it. This does not mean that I am giving up or eschewing medical treatment. Rather, I have found a different, non-combative mindset to guide my living with the wolf — a philosophy I will expand upon in the next post. At its core is acceptance.

My name is Deb and I’d like you to join me in getting to know My Good Wolf.

Our gal Draymond takes it all in. (Photo description: Black dog with short face and round eyes positioned on couch much like a human warily listening to directions on putting together IKEA furniture.)