Physically. and emotionally.
I believe the opportunity with an extended period of pain is many-fold. The most important piece, i think, might be accepting the self as the self is and not requiring “normalcy” to be OK. “I’ll be OK when this pain goes away” just can’t be the policy because what if the pain never goes away?
I’m currently worse than I’ve been these last 3 weeks. That is not the direction I was hoping for, certainly, but clearly my peace with life can’t be based on constant improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I love continual improvement and directional progress and things like that, it’s simply not available to me right now. Can I be OK when that which I need to be OK is not available?
Well, obviously, yes. It’s just not easy.
Phase one is being gentle with myself. Pain is tiring and draining, and rest is hard. Even with all of my ‘relaxing into the pain’ constant pain makes it really hard to rest. Rest is not very restful and yet it’s exactly what the body needs. This dynamic has been my biggest challenge the last few days. This is where pain medication comes in handy, but I don’t take pain medication – although last night I decided that if I am not *significantly better* by Christmas, I’ll look into taking one of the many (extremely toxic) RA drugs available. I’ve long felt that taking these things simply exchanges one set of problems for another, but if my situation is not improved, that may be an exchange I’m open to. We’ll see.
This being gentle with the self is incredibly difficult because I really want to have at least *some* capacity to do *something* so that i’m not just an occasionally moaning log either in my bed or at a chair. But, guess what? I can’t. If this were a typewriter, I could not type. It is the effortlessness of touch on this keyboard that allows me to write (thanks, Apple). Often I try to read and watch and learn when I’m in this position, and it works sometimes but pain makes it hard to concentrate. Trying to watch comedies is a traditional pain pastime, but i get so frustrated trying to *find* something funny, it can go either way for me.
I think my lesson right now is establishing a new normal that I’m not judging as “less than.” What I can do is different. It doesn’t make me ‘less’ than I used to be. If I keep holding my 20 or 30 year old self as my marker of wellness, I’m screwed. I don’t even want to do the things I did at 20 or 30 yet for some reason I still hold these things up as things I *should* be able to do. I am absolutely delighted to have graduated from most of my younger activities, and I truly value so many of my current activities – why I hold this outdated set of criteria about what makes me “well” makes no sense.
I know that the most important service I can render on this plane is to witness the inherent divinity in everyone and everything. I can do that whether I am in bed or walking through town. This is what I’m going to focus on. I can lay in bed and hold any specific thought I can think of to the light of love.
This reminds me of one of the ways I fall asleep when I’m in the kind of pain that doesn’t let you fall asleep. I forgive everything. Just going through everything with “I forgive my body for being in pain. I forgive my father for his outbursts. I forgive myself for that dumbass thing i did (there are usually dozens of those). I forgive this person for whatever I felt was incongruent” just forgiveness over and over and over. It helps me fall asleep and very often when I wake up I feel a little better.
Anyhow, if I’m clear that my service on this planet is to recognize the divinity in all, pain gives me an opportunity to really comprehend the “all” of it, personally and societally, and a pace at which I can really dig in to understanding the breadth of redemption available with just that little bit of recontextualizing. What if this whole illness is to get me to slow down and bless things? And what if, through this illness, I spend thousands of hours blessing every aspect of life, even the bits I’m uncomfortable with. I dare say those thousands of hours would be the shining jewel of my experience – far moreso than my egoic triumphs or drunken shenanigans of my 20’s and 30’s. It seems like I need to keep an open mind to what this time and condition means in my life. Lord knows I have time to contemplate it…