Monthly Archives: March 2020

I am, as you are, a child of God

I’m sick. I’ve got RA and at this moment I have extreme difficulty walking. This is a bummer, yes, but it also just “is what it is.” This illness has led me to deep practices that have enriched my life, and in the coming months I may include allopathic medicine in my response to it. I’m not sure yet. I’m apprehensive, but open. I want to be motivated by possibility with it, and the doctors I’ve visited so far are trying to motivate me out of fear. I have an appointment with a new Rheumatologist tomorrow. We’ll see.

My challenge today is that I don’t know how to respond when people ask me, “How are you doing?” Often, I say, “I’m very happy today.” or “I’m very inspired by this thing I read.” But, they often follow up with, “How is your body?”

I don’t know how to answer.

It is how it is. Many aspects of my physical experience are quite lovely. I can still type and write, I rarely feel nauseous or get headaches… My joints ache, lately all the time, and I’m at peace with it so I don’t particularly need to complain about it, but people are disappointed.

There’s also an underlying concern that if I were really “doing the work” (spiritual work, nutritional work, supplement work, hatha yoga or other restorative physical practices) I would be healthy. That’s the mark of wellness, after all. Health. Vitality. I’ve got to admit, it sounds great, and I would very much like to experience vibrant health. And everybody and her brother has several ideas on “the cure.” I know. I’ve tried a lot of them.

I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been. My relationships are harmonious, my mind is often absorbing material reminding me of the Oneness of Life and the majesty of being alive. I’m committed to presence practices that ground me in the present moment, open to the field of being, which influence every other moment of my day. I want these things to count towards my health and vitality, not just the condition of my body!

In all of my work and reading and exploration, I’ve only found one line (in a Paul Selig book) that says, (as usual, my paraphrase) “You do what you can to care for your body, but you can’t be attached to the result. You have no idea what blessing may arise from what you call a curse. ” It also reminds me of another Selig concept: Fear is part of love, too, it just doesn’t know it.

We are ableist in our society. We think everything needs to look like what we want it to look like to be OK. It doesn’t. Another thing about Selig’s work is the idea that when we see a poor person, or an infirm person, the idea is to honor “This is God.” And if they are hungry, yes, feed them, but you don’t need to “fix” them to make them holy. They are holy. Even this difficult-to-witness version of a human is every bit as holy as the most glamorous specimen.

This past week, I signed up for Selig’s 5 week seminar on PEACE. In this week’s recording, in response to someone talking about  (conceptually) blessing everyone they see, to contribute to their holiness, and The Guides responded with “You can never be holier than you are right this minute. This is true for all. Your experience of your holiness, or of another’s may be enhanced, but it is in recognizing what is already there.”

Sometimes I want evidence of spiritual progress in the way of increased physical health. Seems like a relatively valid desire. Sometimes I want physical health just to be able to be engaged with my family and friends in more dynamic ways. Also fair, I think. And I do what I can to enliven my cells and my heart and my head to create an environment where vibrant health would thrive. I seem to be missing something, but Good Lord, I cannot consider myself ‘less than’ because I am not able to walk normally. But, sometimes I can’t help but use it as evidence that I’m a failure. And that usually comes when someone is disappointed that I’m “not better yet.” Ah, I can’t blame other people. It comes from time to time on its own.

The Bhagavad Gita teaches practice and non attachment.

I practice quite a bit. And that non attachment allows me to be ok, even when i don’t get the results I might hope for and you might hope for, too. I would like to develop the ability to respond to people and their very kind and compassionate health inquiries in a way that honors both of us.

the truth is, we’ll probably never know

I remember, as a young person, thinking that we never really know what our contribution to this life might be. That somewhere, there might have been a conversation that encouraged Mozart’s mother not to terminate her pregnancy, or the disappointing Christmas gift that led a great inventor to make something new out of something unsatisfactory…

These last many years, I wonder what brought on my illness. There is a camp that says it is medical and beyond my control. There is a camp that says it is entirely within my control. Some say it’s my thoughts, some blame childhood anger. Some might say environmental toxins (and I’d like to be clear here that I believe so much of the chronic illness in the US is based on the chemicals in our general food supply, and the food habits marketing has driven us towards – I think the impact of so many chemicals and additives that were studied for maybe 5 years are now showing long-term effects on public health, but i digress).

I’ve cleaned up a lot of my sadness, anger and lack of safety as a kid. Or at least I thought I did. I definitely undertook it with newfound seriousness when I got ill and releasing long-harbored feelings might make me well. I released a lot of feelings. I am not well. I am a bit disappointed.

Today it occurred to me that as a kid I used to think i needed to perform to be worthy of love. I’d do my siblings’ chores, make dinner, get good grades. And then, I, like millions of other women, realized that my myriad activities came from an underlying belief in unworthiness. Obviously that paradigm needed to shift, but I may have taken things too far.

Today, I tried to stand up and walk and couldn’t. The walking sticks i have been using for stability and just that little extra power were 5 or 6 feet away. I couldn’t get them by myself. I tried for a full 5 minutes (and gained maybe 12 inches) before calling out for help.

I am extremely lucky that my husband makes me feel loved and valued *even when I cannot do anything.* Did I need to prove to myself that I was worthy of love not based on any kind of doing? Because that is exactly the situation now, and I’ve got to tell you, I think there might have been an easier way to get this lesson across.

In general, I am a pretty pleasant person to be around. I encourage my husband and kids, give them an ear or shoulder (and I’m getting better at just shutting up and being an ear or shoulder), advocate for choosing from possibility instead of fear. I think I’ve helped at a couple of critical moments for each of them. But, my physical contributions to their wellness have been declining and have come down to virtually nothing. And when I do try to make dinner, I often have to stop because my knees simply can’t hold me up anymore.

It sucks.

You know that I appreciate the many luxuries that being slow and being immobile have brought into my life (mostly that i get to read a lot, but also that i don’t have to do many of the obligatory junk so many people are saddled with), but that doesn’t mean this doesn’t suck, too.

And the worst part about it is thinking that it is very possible this illness is a result of my bad decisions, subconscious scheming and/or hidden emotional resentments (i’ve found most of the not-hidden ones). That i’ve done this to my husband and kids. We would have such a different life if I were mobile. I am so glad we took that trip when I was well.

This week I’ve had several people let me know their theory for my recovery. A doctor who advocates not just DMARDS but also low-dose chemo, a regular preventative antibiotic schedule and list of vaccines. A fan of an author that cured autoimmune through diet (i’ll bet her RA factor and CCP numbers were a fraction of what mine are), a trauma-oriented healer who is certain I have multiple hidden things, some going back generations… Are any of them correct? Are all of them correct?

Really, all I can do is my best. I’m very happy to have a much cleaner diet than I used to and excited to get back to an even cleaner version. I enjoy gong baths and hypnosis and emotional healing techniques. I aspire to get back to tai chi or yoga or something. But my heart turns inside out when i think i’ve just been being selfish and commanding attention and it’s my unevolved self running the show and putting those i love through a compromised life. That breaks my heart.

But, it’s just a thought. Just like the thought that this illness is a gift to re-orient our priorities and it’s done a bang-up job. That’s just another thought.