Bob Dembik was diagnosed with kidney disease at the young age of 24. He has lived vivaciously through 3 failed kidney transplants and now dialysis 3 times a week. His love of life and desire to give back makes everyone that knows him smile. Below, he writes about the trials of living with kidney disease and learning to have compassion for himself.
By Robert Dembik
There is much to be said about compassion. I admire Dianne Maroney in her endeavor of The Imagine Project, and I’m certainly flattered to be chosen for the Imagine Project and proud to represent Buffalo Niagara, but I am most of all humbled to find myself amongst some of the most amazing stories out there depicted in this magnificent ensemble of true tales. I’m sure that there are other great stories out there to be found, but certainly Dianne discovered some whoppers her first time around.
When I think of what compassion means for me, I try to start with how I was able to have compassion to begin with, for myself. As much as I wanted to dis myself and be angry with myself at times when I first acquired the kidney disease and had to face it for the rest of my life, I had to try and find the courage to be kind, or compassionate with myself. This started with realizing that we are all human and that we all make mistakes, have challenges big and small, and ultimately choose the path of how we will meet these circumstances in life. There were a few strategies I used to be more kind to myself:
- Realizing I did nothing on purpose to be in the position I was in.
- No one is going to judge me in how I handle the challenge.
- I have to cut myself some slack and not have unrealistic expectations moving forward.
- It’s OK to go in the corner and lick my wounds (cry) if I need to once in a while in order to let go, retain stability and refocus before I go back into the ring again.
I also learned that in trying to exercise compassion for myself how important the role of God was in maintaining a healthy mind during the whole coping and conquering process of my challenge. Accepting how hard it might be to digest the concept at times that God did indeed love me while I was seemingly following his intended difficult path for me, and if that being the case that I needed to find a way to eternally love myself as well – as much as I possibly could. Being able to do this opened new doors where I entered realms of compassion.
When you give yourself the right to experience kindness, understanding and compassion for yourself, you give yourself the right to accept it. And in doing this you open the door to let others enter with their own brand and way of presenting kindness and compassion to you. This is a way of making the circle of life complete. And it’s a way of perpetuating kindness and compassion on a regular basis. That is what the Imagine Project does – open doors to compassion and the world is a better place for having such a vehicle to use as a reflection tool.