April 09, 2014

Dreaming in Spring Colors Again.

When you are ill for a long, L-O-N-G time, survival mode causes you to stop yearning.  You can handle the daily baby steps of healing, even the setbacks, better if you focus on being content with the now.  

Planning for home renovations or landscape projects become almost laughable as you struggle to, well, perform the tasks of staying alive- mainly eating, pottying, breathing, walking, lifting, and smiling.

Blogs where people whine about shades of white paint or spend time spray painting light fixtures from gold to silver, almost become nauseating.  (Maybe the nausea is caused by antibiotics- again.)

I can't even describe to you how hard it is to find a healing walking pace.  

You see, as a mother of many, my gait of preference/necessity was a trot or canter.  Constantly moving forward, pulling, stretching, climbing, serving, growing.  I didn't have time for rest and even as I pulled daily with all my strength I still felt severely inadequate.

Then- wham-o!  Thud!  

Health issues that caused me to choose- A) continue to care for my 7 living and my home at the risk of, dying or killing my in-utero baby or B) sit or lay helplessly by as the whole world cares for my family and I carefully guard my own physical/mental health and give my in-utero baby the best chance at living.

Hard choice, but not the hardest.

As I sat on the chair observing, I had to swallow so much.  Loosing what I did- helped me to know who I am.  Babies I had spent every moment caring for, now wake up from their naps crying for grandma.  Meals are seasoned differently, pigtails are higher, conflicts are started and ended as I observe.  

Any input I had into the parenting of my children needed to be discussed and even negotiated.  There is great, great power in the idea that although we disagree, you can do things your way and I'll do them mine.  Oh, my stubborn soul loves that ability to end a discussion by simply doing it myself.  I miss that ability most.  

As you loose the ability to do things, you gain the ability to (sing with me) "Let it go!! Let it go!!!"  That is a great lesson to learn.

After a few months your pulse doesn't even quicken as you hear a darling, well-meaning grandfather INSISTING on peppering your anti-pepper child's egg.  Eggs that he is cooking for her, because you cannot.  Any comment you make from your recliner feels rude and ungrateful.  After months of practice you naturally smile and let it go!

Your mental mantra becomes "these things shall give you (and yours) experience and shall be for your (and their) good."  Sigh.  This is all part of our plan.  Trust the plan!  "One step enough for me."

As you are learning these soul-shaping lessons, you are shifting down.  Canter to Whoa.  All forward progression is internal.  Physically and even emotionally you pull back.  Focus changes.  You detach from those you thought couldn't live without you and you see- they can.  

In so many ways you feel your complete powerlessness even as you are learning to know the great power given to you.

A life that was once a lesson in complete selflessness becomes a life completely focused on self (with the most selfless of motivations).

Daily life soon must focus on very basic, very slow, very internal journeys.  While the storm of life continued around me, I was forced to magnify the nominal.  

Very literally, social events blurred in the background as I stopped hourly to judge how quickly my heart and the heart I was protecting, continued to beat.  Meals were mountains in my day, and I won't even talk about using the bathroom.  For months I have forgotten what a single moment without pain or the haze of drugs feels like.  

I learned that my physical state does not determine or negate my ability to choose.  Even in intense pain, exhaustion, and uncertainty, I have the ability to respond cheerfully and kindly to others.  I can hold my arm still even as my body physically reacts with fear and my emotions race.  It is amazing.  We, our eternal spirits, are powerful to choose.

And so, when I hear a tired father too harsh with a tired child, my soul cringes.  From my chair I might whisper, "be gentle with her." But, he is right.  I cannot actually be the one to carry her up to her bed, the fifth time, so I must watch him do it his way.  

When he huffs that I don't know what it's like (he is right), but there is something I know.  I KNOW that even if you are tired, overwhelmed or in intense physical pain, you STILL have power to choose how you act.  You can choose to be cheerful and kind even as you suffer.

I can't wait to practice this more. Oh, I laugh in the face of PMS.  Really ladies- you are stronger than you know you are. Your physical state does NOT determine your actions.  If you possibly could be kind to a doctor while he is shoving a hose down your jugular vein in your neck (ouch) than you CAN be kind to a sassy seven year old, even when you're tired.  

Take your pain and go down and in, not up and out.  If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin at all.  We've got this.

At the risk of sounding ridiculously arrogant, I must humbly tell you that I understand how the Savior suffered a little bit more than I once did.  

He also separated from His physical pain.  There was a time when He pled for relief, "Father if thou be willing remove this cup from me."  And then He accepted His lot, "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."  

From this point forward, I would say He endured.  He got quiet.  He went inward with his pain and allowed His spirit to seperate from that.  I know how He could have had His body nailed to a cross and still feel concern for His mother and those hanging near Him.  

That is what you do to endure- you forget how you feel and focus on what makes you feel good even when you don't feel good.  Love is stronger than pain.  

Laughter and joy is also stronger than the most intense physical pain or the most constant dull ache.  Christ could endure the most intense of all pains (which I believe occurred as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and culminated on the cross) because He had the most intense love.  Love trumps pain.

Oh, there are beautiful lessons to be learned as we suffer.  Health trials and pain are beautiful teachers.  In my case, these were not culminating lessons, just lessons I was blessed to learn in this Spring Break of my life.  

Even while I am still drinking, I feel so lucky for this great gulp of perspective I've had poured down my throat.

Learning to be detached, internal and slow was beautiful and essential.  But then, it becomes too much.  

Just as you get comfortable with a home-bound winter, buds bloom on the trees and you recognize spring is coming.  Even Christ would have been less-effective if He never rose again.

Learning to stop was a hard lesson for me.  Interestingly, learning to walk again is just as hard.  I now know how to be active and in charge (cantering), and how to be quiet and internal (stopped), but I am still learning how to be present and gently participating (walking on).  

I'm still learning to set goals again.  I'm cautiously looking forward and outward.  I'm almost strong enough to serve others physically and oh how good that feels.

The gap between what I physically can do today and what I did do BB (before Ben) is great.  But, mothering is 60% mental.  Healing is 60% mental too.  

Engaging again is as painfully vulnerable as disengaging once was.

My physical therapist would joke that I didn't need her because I naturally pushed myself as fast (or too fast) as my healing would allow.  Usually, she would tell me to slow down and be patient with my body.  

Oh, what a ridiculously difficult position healing is.  You walk this tight rope of doing without under or over doing.  You feel judged for disengaging and get verbally hammered by every well-meaning friend or family member who feels innately qualified (as an observer) to caution you (as an active participant) not to "over do it."  As if there is actually a perfect sketch of a line one could walk for ideal healing.  

The truth is, all involved are walking two steps into the dark.  This is my journey and I am trying, so carefully, to walk on, to heal well, to learn and observe, and to embrace life.  I believe the unknowing is part of the plan.  Veils help us to strengthen our core spiritual muscles.  

Faith and trust are much more effectively demonstrated as we walk forward in the dark- if we could always see His outstretched arms (which are in fact always there) we would be showing our ability to follow not our ability to believe.  Faith is a principle of great spiritual power.  I'm ok walking in darkness sometimes.  Let's just shout encouragement and love to each other!

(Even if you happen to be sitting on a recliner watching a tired father put your child to bed for the fifth time.  You will know that he is also walking his own unique journey and that he is indeed grateful for gentle whispers, encouragement and love from the recliner.)

Healing is an act of physical renewal and spiritual faith.  There is NO science that can ever predict or dictate a persons individual journey of health.  Ask a doctor or a nurse- they will tell you how individualized healing is.

As an observer experiencing this journey I am amazed at the human body and heavenly soul. I feel like this past year and a half (not that I'm counting) I have taken a pretty hard college course that I bravely and naively enrolled in.  I haven't quite made it to finals yet, but I can tell you unequivocally this has been the best course I have ever had.  I am born again, again.  

I'm sorry if you are just starting your own course.  Do NOT beg for a syllabus, there is a reason you don't know at the beginning what might happen towards the end (or middle).  My heart aches for your journey even as it rejoices for your final grade!  This is a good, dang hard, good course.

Waking up is an interesting experience for me.

I used to crash in bed exhausted and wake up with my running shoes on. 
There were months in the past year where I was in a continual haze of rest, barely waking and gently gliding back to sleep. 

Recently, I wake up to re-live the feeling of being hit by a car.  If I achieve a truely deep sleep, my spirit awakens first with hopes for a new day and then my body reminds me that we won't be going anywhere fast.  It's like a quick re-enactment of those car dummies slamming into a cement wall.  Ouch.

This morning, I woke up and had a few glorious moments of summer day dreaming.  There was a pause, before I moved, where the morning sunshine touched my soul and I almost felt normal.

I imagined my pool full of happy children, I imagined my boys with wheelbarrows of weeds helping happily in our garden, I imagined chicken coops, soccer games, real-life (non-medical friends), road trips, and even some minor house decorating. 

I recognized that dawn of hope returning and I basked in the warmth of trivial dreams!  Oh it is good to hope and plan again!  I love life's seasons.  (There is a reason we live in New York and not Florida.)

It has been a long winter, but we are walking on!  
I believe in a God of seasons and I can feel Spring coming!  
Holy day.
Life is a gift.

(Ha! Oh this blog post is very me.  A hodge podge of silly metaphors as I try to pour my heart onto a computer screen.  I know that I switch awfully from past to present to generic tense.  I think this is because I am stuck somewhere in the past/present/generic of life.  Thank you for reading my ramblings.)

1 comment:

Marie said...

This was great, Jen. Have you ever thought about writing a book? Seriously... ❤️

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