Sunday, December 18, 2011

Resting in Ambiguity

Because I’ve found the struggle interesting, I suppose I’ve not envisioned the outcome I want. Now, I feel neutral in the struggle finally, that the gains and losses have evened out. Today I told a friend in my community that now it looks like brain surgery won’t happen until February…or so. She laughed and said, “Oh. Forget about it.” This stuck with me and it occurred to me that there was great wisdom in those words.

How much does any one of us really know about the future? The fact that you can make plans in your calendar stretching out infinitum doesn’t mean that any of it will ever happen. Ouch. I know. What happens if the future becomes encased in a fog?  It doesn’t mean that nothing is going to happen. It simply means there are no predictions, no scheduling, and no planning. Even the events you know are out there become vague, memory-rooted markers that have no pull anymore.

Maybe it is the fact that I can’t drive, that I can’t seem to make a plan for the future without it being wiped off the white-board calendar by another surprise in this situation. I am simply tired of the disappointment. I have to laugh that the thing I want to know is when I’ll have brain surgery. Who thinks something like that? Here’s my confession…I can’t imagine my future anymore and I can’t imagine how this situation gets resolved. I give up on specifics.

I’m going to forget about the specifics. I am now fully invested in vague.

Yes, there will be a solution to the benign meningioma. What is the solution? I don’t know anymore. I have vague ideas.  The ideas may or may not work in the way I think they will, and so I am free now to completely let go of struggling with the details to get to my destination out there.
For another metaphor, imagine you are going on a vacation and you have to learn how to not only operate a plane, but also all the luggage systems and run the stewarding. Wouldn’t you rather simply focus on arriving at your destination and what fun you’ll have when you get there?

Taking me out of the alarming field of making the medical plan work, or the alternative plan work is a little bit…relaxing. It is what it is. That’s what I say about everything else, and it turns out, “It is what it is,” perfectly applies to this. I do not need to understand the why, when, where or how, and I know the what –vaguely – the solution will happen. I accept that the strong stream of prayers and light coming my way has made an impression that there must be something in me worth saving. The intentions for full recovery are in motion.

What does that leave?

This makes me think of my daughter’s smile. When I was pregnant I read all the books, researched methods, chose the most independent route I could find. In other words, I distracted myself because I had no idea what it would be like to be a mother of a child. I had no idea what this child would be like (I didn’t find out gender via technology).  Yet, being pregnant, I trusted absolutely that I would love my baby. I did what I could to express that, of course, I petted the baby’s head, or maybe it was her bottom, through my belly’s wall, and I tried to keep food down. I played music, took long walks and she gestated in spite of some surprises along the way, some changed minds about methods, some moves (two), and a new job. Somehow it all came out okay when she emerged. No matter what detail I struggled with (nursing, diaper changing, burping, working), there were only a few things I cared about – that I love her the best way I could by learning about her, by being curious, and that I not betray her trust, and that when I smiled at her, she smiled back at me. When that smile finally appeared; oh boy, I spent a lot of hours smiling.

So, that’s what I’m aiming for metaphorically, I’m aiming for an inner smile that trusts that the world is my oyster. I want to be loyal to my life, to my purpose, to my mission. I want to be curious and learn more about my purpose here on earth. In short, I want to learn somehow in the next few months to absorb what has escaped me before…how to love myself, accept myself, shit, burps and all. I want to embrace a sense of wonder as I emerge from recovery and begin to smile in love with life. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finding a State of Grace

My understanding about this tumor, this benign meningioma, has been forced to expand because of all of the delays in getting it out. At the beginning it seemed so simple. Have surgery and recover. Now, adrift in waiting and wonder, I feel compelled to lighten up and get over the fact that someday I’ll have brain surgery. Yet, it hasn’t been that easy to forget about it because it changes my life day-to-day. Since my modus operando is often thinking and figuring, and I know like I know that all of this thinking and figuring actually keeps me in a state of non-action, I also called on my friend Rose last week to be my sounding board. Rose is all about grounding in the body’s knowledge and I have always experienced exquisite peace when I’m around her, even when I was very frustrated otherwise.

Rose suggested that I find a yoga class, specifically restorative yoga, and thankfully the word “relax” didn’t escape into her cell phone. We had a great conversation for several hours in which I told her about Native American legend that I’ve read in various books and websites. Swan is the story of being in a state of grace, and that exactly is very interesting to me. Swan flies by accident into the Dreamtime. No matter how hard she tries to escape, she always ends up back in the very same pond looking up at the Sacred Mountain. She thinks and she thinks about how to escape, and every day she tries to stay awake and aware so that she can find her way out in flight but her efforts are to no avail. She always finds herself landing in the little pond.

 One day she notices a frightening black hole swirling above Sacred Mountain. She worries about it but realizes if she cannot fly away from the pond then there is nothing she can do about it. She accepts it is what it is and returns her thoughts to escape. Later that day Dragonfly emerges from the black hole and Swan asks him how he flew through it and what it means. Dragonfly tells her that it is a punishment to those who work against or worse yet ignore Great Spirit but it is also the entry to meet Great Spirit directly if they surrender to Great Spirit’s plan completely.

Swan gets very excited and tells Dragonfly she is ready and willing to surrender to Great Spirit’s plan for her completely, and Dragonfly tells her to fly towards the black hole then and see what happens. He makes no promise to her that she can succeed. Swan flies into the black swirling hole and re-emerges as the beautiful white bird that we know. Dragonfly asks her what has happened to her to make her so stunning. Swan smiles and reports that she indeed met Great Spirit and that she was transformed by her surrender to the state of grace. 

Trust, it seems to me is the state of grace, and that’s been a challenge for me with this reaction to the anti-seizure medication. I’ve been completely resisting the whispers in my head that tell me to take care of my body as well as I have been known to do in the past. I wonder if it takes a deluge of failure to get us to give up the idea that we can control everything in our lives? I'd like to get past this "efforting" and fly into a state of grace.

It seems obvious to me that surrendering to this whisper is exactly what I’m asked to do at this juncture. Surrendering is not about inaction, but rather about being willing to face fear, even simple anxiety, with a sense of trust in whatever happens.  

One of the things that I learned from Argentine Tango is that I often struggle unconsciously against losing control. When I finally was able to follow a lead through the tango I truly felt like a swan, beautiful and graceful. And, that is the response I got from my dance partners, one of whom actually said, I kid you not, “Oh, dancing with you is like driving a convertible Mustang up Highway 1.” Blush. I know that I have been struggling with this experience for two months because I haven’t been able to get into my body and stop anticipating the next step with my mind. Rose suggested that I try restorative yoga to get in touch with surrendering at least to a few moments of being in the body. Indeed, I do believe this may be the key.

Yesterday, I started on 1/1000th of a dose of the anti-seizure medication, Dilantin, and so far so good. 

Little by little I am feeling better about my slow pace around this pond.  I realize that in 31 days when I am up to the full dose of this medication, I will have the chance to earn and learn trust in this process.  I’m also restarting a diet I know makes me feel better even though it is challenging.  I’ve found a yoga class and my husband is a willing partner in getting me there and joining in. I am turning myself over to a Creator greater than myself to create a future that I can be aligned with and in which I will thrive.

I like the Swan story a lot, but I also know that truly I am a sea turtle through and through. I take a long time between knowing something and finally acting on my knowledge.  This apparent health crisis has caused some to feel uncomfortable with my pace, but I know like I know that this is the most natural way for me to recover, and heal fully.  Integrating the best intelligence of alternative and traditional paths,  I feel that truly this experience will be transformative. The appearance of resistance is not resistance to new information, but rather it is resistance to artificial pacing and the drama about getting this over finally. Whether I resist unconsciously or consciously, in the end I will go at my own pace in this journey.  In fact, if I remember anything I’ve learned in my life is that there is no “getting over with,” but only a long and extended adventure through many related experiences that lead to more.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lies I Tell Myself about How My Brain Got a Tumor and Went Haywire

My dear Facebook guide of how words work, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, inspired me to approach this brain tumor thing from a new angle last week. She suggested that rather than trying to figure out the truth about how this brain tumor happened to me, I simply go for a lie. That is that sometimes when we just make stuff up, as in fiction, the truth comes to the surface more easily. I can never stop with one, so as the week did progress, many lies surfaced, and I think what follows are my top ten:

  1. I am really a seventh dimension being trapped in a third dimension body and placed this tumor as a reminder, a book mark for time, in case I got distracted, to return to my true mission for visiting planet earth. As I came closer to the time for carrying this plan out the tumor expands just enough to utterly change my life. I accept that change is the one thing I can count on not to change.    
  2. A very small Christmas Elf wandered into my ear one year, and while trapped there inspired me to be a Yuletide Addict. Now that I’m on the 12-step program of recovery, the Elf is wreaking havoc because it knows I’ll never go back. I am appreciative that I am no longer addicted to events, appearances and circumstances, and can enjoy good things without blowing them out of proportion.
  3. When I was threatened by a couple of boys holding a gun to my head at age ten, the idea of fear and danger planted an actual seed in my brain. This led me to make choices that were dangerous and caused fear so that I could store them in the left temporal lobe for future exploration so that I might dispel fear and danger completely. Now, the file is full and it is time to deal with it and face my fears head on.
  4. Having my head pounded against the floor caused a mass of cells to become confused and start growing there instead of someplace else. When confusion passed safely the cells announced themselves so that they and my past trauma could be removed. Boundaries are my friends and I am worthy of love and forgiveness for all of the blind turns I took.
  5.  I inherited this tumor from my grandmother when she died because the pressure it creates in my left temporal lobe forces me to expand my vocabulary. Her vocabulary and love of books was her greatest gift to me. The only problem is that she also lost her mind towards the end of her life. Luckily medicine has advanced.  I remember I’m grateful.  
  6. Cells in my body detected a nanobot, planted there by a CIA-like agency, and decided to surround it, causing an auto-immune over-reaction to just about everything else just to keep it under control. Thus my body foiled the plans of said government agency to turn me into a tea party advocate. However, now that the plan has been taken up by others, the agency is trying to destroy the nanobot’s evidence and that has caused the swelling and recent over-reaction to that which is supposed to be “therapeutic”. I must trust my body. 
  7. The tumor is a frustrated demon that has been unable to stimulate my mathematics comprehension and to undermine my creativity and is now having a temper tantrum as it has become obvious that this idea is an utter failure. I must remain calm and not allow my shortcomings to continually undermine and frustrate me.  
  8. Disrupting all forms of self-discipline this tumor is the result of a past-life as a Voodoo Doctor’s zombie-making in ancient Africa. Forcing me to experience zombification in short bursts. Karma is hell. I must stay awake and increase my self-discipline.  
  9. All of my accomplishments are the result of having extra pressure on my brain from the tumor, and all of my failures are punishable by the expansion of the tumor. I just happened to reach a tipping point where the balance went over to failure. I must find my value, and my values in this world.
  10. The tumor is my connection to my twin spirit living in a parallel universe. Something has happened to my twin and now the connection is broken and the tumor is self-destructing. I must learn to live independently and become self-reliant.

        Some lies are more entertaining than others, some lies are truth masquerading. Each one is the premise line of a story through which truth could potentially rise. These particular lies represent in metaphors of a number of things that I’ve been consciously working on through my life.  Rich with subtle diversity, I am stunned by the relationship they have to how I truly feel.  The big issues of existence, addiction, fear, trauma, inheritance, over-reaction, dis/order, self-discipline, self-worth, and alienation/self-reliance are all here, I see. Blush. I’m very blessed to have now such a map.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Roll Call of Answers, but Which One Fits?

The week unfolded carefully and slowly, as if it knew I could only handle one answer at a time.

I spoke to the neurosurgeon’s sweet nurse first. After I filled her in on the immunologist/allergist plan of “desensitizing” me to Dilantin, I asked her if they had “cyberknife” technology available to them. It turned out that they do in fact, but they call it “gamma knife” – just different schools and manufacturers, but essentially the same thing. I asked then why they hadn’t offered that option to me, especially after I had had so many reactions to medications, and had had to cancel surgery because of those reactions. 

Deep sigh.  

She told me that because of the size and location of my benign meningioma, I am definitely not a candidate at this stage of the game to have stereostatic radiology. It is because the brain tissue around the tumor is so very valuable and the size of my tumor would require a larger beam to take care of it, that they dare not use it. Jeopardizing healthy brain cells is not an option, and so I am really at peace with this knowledge even though it would have been nice to be able to treat the tumor to an exit from my body without opening my skull up.

Almost immediately after that call, I got a call from my Primary Care Physician who has been quite good about staying on top of all of this process, I have to say. And, she echoed what I had just heard, “I looked at your MRI this morning, Amanda, and at three centimeters and being right in the area of the left temporal lobe, I have to say that it is highly unlikely that you’re a candidate for Cyberknife treatment.” Sigh. I was prepared for that answer at least, and when she asked if I still wanted to get yet another opinion, I said that I thought there were enough doctors’ appointments going on that I didn’t need to waste my time that way. She agreed because of the good reputation of the neurosurgeon that I'm using for this experience.

Hitting a dead end medically is not a terrible thing when you have the information you need. It is only when one cannot understand why the path is not open that makes it disheartening. I struck the whole option off of my list for now. It is possible that there is a reason I followed the path to its end, and so I share this information in the hopes that it may serve someone else as a good answer.

I forgot to mention in the last post that I had also discovered that our insurance plan will cover appointments with Osteopaths! Yay. This is a healing modality that has served me very well in the past. Like a chiropractors, osteopaths are specifically concerned with spinal alignment and the cranial-sacral flow. Unlike a chiropractors, they have medical degrees, can prescribe medication and are somewhat, grudgingly acceptable to the mainstream medical profession.  I had set to work to find an Osteopath who was in the network of providers for my health insurance. No one was listed so I called the insurance company and they told me that since there wasn’t a listing I could pick whomever I wanted to work with, and they would simply have to fill out some paperwork to become a provider for them. More paper trails to follow and work to do, but in the end I found a very good option and made an appointment for Thursday morning.

Thursday morning my husband and I drove the kids into school, and made our way over to the Osteopath. He dropped me off, and I went into a cozy natural wood-filled office. Wood benches, wood counters, wood tables and chairs. Lots of wood. Did I mention wood? This will mean something in a moment. My new Osteopath also is an acupuncturist, and so we had a long talk about the work previous acupuncturists have been focused on in my health scenario…namely my gallbladder meridian. It turns out that my gray-ball-of-dirty-laundry tumor is located near the end of my gallbladder meridian. It is a “wood” channel of acupuncture work. Did I mention wood? Plus, I happen to be a Wood Dragon in Chinese astrology. I always find all of these threads of commonality very interesting. 

He did an osteopathic adjustment of my head and sacrum and I admit that I felt lighter than I’d felt for a long, long time, at least immediately following the adjustment. As the day wore on I felt the adjustment acutely and I’m sure I’ve sunk back out of alignment, but this is normal for a bit until the body becomes accustomed to being in “neutral” again. He also gave me recommendations for another neurologist who will be my back up plan should this drag on past whatever the immunologist can do for me, a naturopath (which isn’t covered by insurance) and an ecological doctor (who I could consult if the immunologist/allergist’s plan fails).

One thing that has happened on this journey is that I have received dozens of recommendations and suggestions from all directions. I feel badly not following every single one of them, but this is the truth of the situation: there are only 24 hours in a day, and my energy for this lasts about four of them and then there are other things to do in a day. I have to pick and choose very mindfully where I spend the resources of time, energy and money.  I also am not allowed to drive, so that all of my pursuits have to be reachable during times when I can get help. I can’t run up and down the front range of Colorado at will to seek help. However, I have kept all the names, and modalities recorded, and should I need to, I will give them a shot, but even starting over with a new neurologist at this stage of the game seems pointless, until I give the immunologist’s plan a shot. One thing at a time is all I can do, and though it seems very slow to my friends and family; perhaps, it is the most thorough and least panicky plan I can pursue. Think of me as a turtle. I am slow and steady, and I will win this race somehow.

Then I heard back from the immunologist’s nurse after a day of phone tag, on Friday, and I have an appointment to meet with him on Tuesday morning to choose one out of TWO plans for getting me ready for surgery. Yay! I love to have options in a controlled setting. So, I’ll update you about those after that appointment.  Maybe we’ll get this show back on the road again soon.

Meanwhile, all week I was pursuing a deeper understanding of myself in this situation. The revelations that those precious discussions uncovered were astounding and very emotional for me. They deserve their own post and so…to be continued…

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Many Paths, One I Am

Though I feel pretty normal, I am always conscious now of the gray-dirty-ball-of-laundry benign meningioma in my skull. This past week I felt eager to find other pathways to getting this thing taken care of in spite of my reaction to anti-seizure medication. It was time for putting out the calls to all the doctors to see if they were actually still thinking of me, if I was still a patient on their dockets. This is sort of funny to me because only the week before I had been getting tired of doctors, but when you have something like this being forgotten is no fun either. What I’ve learned, finally, is that when you call a busy doctor it takes until the end of the day to hear from them even if you call them right as their office opens. Sadly they may not have even researched an answer to your question, left carefully and meticulously with their receptionists or nurses. It seems they like to hear the question from you directly. Then you may not get an answer again for a few days, at the end of the day.

In addition to the doctors, I did some on-line research for alternatives to surgery for brain tumors and got myself very excited about “stereostatic radiology”. It turns out there has been a ton of progress on radiation for certain kinds of tumors, including benign meningiomas. Doctors of radiology now have the ability to target a tumor; which is simply a mass of cells growing where they oughtn’t to grow, in a way that is harmful often, but not always.  Stereostatic radiology is so specific that it often doesn’t touch healthy cells, and that is very good for brain tumors because one doesn’t want to lose any healthy brain cells. They target the tumor from multiple directions with very narrow beams of radiation, guided by an MRI of the patient’s head, prostate, lung, etc. Over one or up to many sessions of a half hour the tumor cells die and shrink away. No drugs necessary. Not much to recover from. You can immediately guess the appeal this technique had for me!

I started right away the process of sending my MRI, CT scan and EEG over to a place in Boulder that uses “Cyberknife” technology for a consult. The process of getting these records sent around is not simple. First you call your primary care doctor and find out what they actually have, and the process for getting those released. That entails a conversation with a nurse as to what you’re thinking, and then they in turn tell your doctor, who then has to get through a day of appointments before calling you back. Your doctor may be in a group that has a medical release process, and so you start that on-line, or you have to go into the office to sign papers. This is all to say, it is not like you can just call your doctor and tell them what to do.

Meanwhile, I put in a call to the immunologist/allergist who I saw right after Thanksgiving to find out if he’d found any research to support his plan to “desensitize” me to an anti-seizure medication. The process is like “immunizing” you to a reaction to a drug. If you’ve ever had an animal allergy and wanted to have that animal in your house, you might have gotten allergy shots to desensitize your body to their dander. The same idea happens with a drug. They give you a very, very small dose of bothersome drug and build up to the minimum dose very, very slowly over the course of 12 hours, 24 hours or several weeks.

I had scared myself to death right after I saw the immunologist/allergist by looking this process up with regards to Dilantin. I discovered that all the symptoms of my reaction to these anti-seizure medications together indicated a killer called “Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.” In other words, I could have died! This is to say to anyone who has a reaction to a medication take it very seriously even if the symptoms seem not so bad. It astonishes me that the neurologist didn’t ask me to come in a see him in his office until I had a third reaction, but that is another story. I called the immunologist/allergist right away in a panic, and his nurse called me back and assured me that this is precisely the reason why they would do the “desensitization” to the medications and that I would be monitored very closely to be certain of me safety.  Deep breath.

Then I sent an email to the neurologist, who I had been scheduled to see on Thursday last, to see if he really wanted to see me considering I was not on any of the medications he’d prescribed.  Surprisingly, he wrote me back immediately. The reason I use the email is because I find phone talking very irritating for the most part because my hearing seems to be affected by the tumor, and, also, because he has an email address. Grin, he’s gotten a lot of emails from me in the last two months. He prints them all and puts them in my file. This seems very civilized to me. I like this neurologist personally, in case any of you are wondering why I haven’t fired him. He is well-respected by his neurosurgeon colleagues. When I look at him, I think Simon & Garfunkel songs. He wears a bolo with his purple scrubs and he looks like he’s interesting. He shares his office, filled with Native American symbolism, paintings of Hermes, and Egyptian Gods, with a homeopath, his wife, and his children seem to also be involved in the well-being industry, and so I keep thinking that there is more to him than the evidence of my experience.  Back to the answer to my question, he wrote back and said that he wanted to see me when I was taking medication so gleefully I took him out of my Google calendar.

Then I thought, while I am at it, I’ll put in a call to the neurosurgeon to update him on what is going on. I was a little curious why he hadn’t brought up the option of stereostatic radiology. Of course, I waited for a return call.

So, while I was waiting, I decided to approach the whole thing from my own perspective that everything in life is a spiritual question. I have outgrown the ideas of affirmations or “The Secret,” having had some of my affirmative years explode on me and I was, frankly, unprepared for consequences. What I am after is a deeper dive into unfolding the gifts of every situation and uncovering the challenges. Obviously, my body gives me a good run for my money. I sought out the help of some women who I respect very much on the path of healing the body-mind-spirit connection, the author, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and a dear friend, Rose Fitzgerald, both living far away, and then one of the therapists I’ve liked in Boulder.

My question to them was essentially, how I to identify the purpose that will ultimately motivate me through this experience to live fully recovered. I acknowledged that I seem to be most driven by living for others – my children, my husband, even my dog – but that I have trouble taking care of my own needs, putting myself first even with this brain tumor. I will overextend myself to help a stranger, but I won’t necessarily stick to a regimen or practice that supports me. Also, in recent years I have drawn a blank on dreaming my life forward. That has been evident in this blog as I struggled to find my career again. I have the sense that rediscovering my purpose, my destiny, is essential to my healing.

In short, I was a very busy woman at the beginning of the week, and on top of that I made a new friend, made some Christmas cookies and brownies for an old friend who has been very supportive through all of this, walked my dog. I even attended some Middle School open houses with my son, who will be leaving elementary school in the dust of memories in May. It was a very busy week and I am SO very grateful that I was not on medication.

To be continued…

Sunday, December 4, 2011

People Who Need People

This thing with my brain is dragging on and on. I’ve described it as a holding pattern, and that indeed is exactly how it feels. I’m just circling, unable to land this puppy and get my baggage in hand to deal with, and unable to go anywhere else. Now, that I’m not on any medication I feel pretty good physically, barring the come-and-go headaches. The only thing is that the fear of possible seizure has barred me from driving, and that little detail has changed my life.

I am blessed by people who would so love to help me, but I am stubbornly holding onto my non-existent independence that I’m afraid I will alienate them before I really need their help. I mean if I felt worse, or was recovering from surgery now, I wonder if I would be so blatant in my rejection of assistance. Honestly, I cringe that I appear to be so helpless when I feel so okay. If it weren’t for the outside possibility that I might have a seizure, I would just carry on with my life as it was before this all happened…sort of...

My mom visited us for a week over Thanksgiving, and I tried that business of carrying on as if in normal condition, with the non-chalant ability to run errands because she was driving. Har.  Three hours a day of grocery shopping and errand running over the course of three days sent me to bed for two days. I have been taking three hour naps and going to bed early for nearly a week now since she departed. I’m not complaining. I have the ability to do this because of everyone’s support, but it is astounding to me.

I read in Julia Cameron’s (The Artist’s Way) Facebook feed, “Tell yourself you need to relax instead of create. Tell yourself you’ll write later. #how2avoidmakingart” and if I hadn’t been sitting down, I think I would have fallen over. I actually wrote a comment, “Wait…what?”  That’s when I realized that I’m a driven person. “Relax” is the comment I’ve received the most on my posts about this affair I’m having with a benign meningioma. And, I have to be frank; the front of “I’m okay” is beginning to break down because I do not know how to relax. I don’t know how to escape without running away. That’s when I realized that writing projects often serve to keep me on edge, running mentally away, rather than deeply sinking into self-knowledge as I would wish for them.

So, let me just say what I know: It’s not the brain tumor, fear of surgery, medication problems. It’s the fall out. One thing that is part of the fall out is the desire/need dichotomy. In a story the hero needs to recognize and accept, or change something about herself in order to have her desire(s). Well, I just want this whole thing to be behind me, and so I have been avoiding “need” like the plague. What? I really don’t want to accept that I need anything except for this thing to be over and done. Har.

That’s not how “need” works. A funny thing happens when one recognizes a level of need in her life; the desire narrows in focus. I recognized several parts of need that I’ve been avoiding in the last two months. One is that I need some assistance, even if it is as simple as asking my god-daughter to pick up my kids from school and deliver them to me after she’s finished classes at the local university (thank you Madeleine King!). I have to accept that there are some things that I cannot do for myself or my family right now. Then also I realized that I need to rest more than I am accustomed to resting. Somehow accepting the need to rest, I am allowing myself to feel my exhaustion and slow down my ambitions. I’m not relaxed yet, but I’ve reached the point in the journey when I can’t actually argue that I must finish anything or produce anything except the bare minimum. I understand that all I need to do is accept today including how I feel, where my energy is, and where my real commitments are going to land. I’ve been incredibly supported by one of my favorite author’s, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and the words of her first book “The Invitation,” that remind me that accepting necessary changes does not mean giving up.

The very general desire of wanting this to be over has become more refined. The aperture of my want has settled today on wanting to understand why accepting help is so hard for me, and wanting to maintain the independence I have left by minimizing how much I depend on others. I want to recognize that the reason I cry now on a daily basis has very little to do with an anomaly that has invaded my brain, but because the parts of me that I most value – the take care of business, stiff upper lip gal, has no way to maintain. I have to set aside some of my joking and sarcasm to be kind to myself and that is such a challenge.  Sucking it up, rather than self-acceptance, is not working.

I admit that my resistance is wearing down through shear necessity, and wouldn’t it be so much easier if I could just put it away in a drawer until a sunnier day? It would, but it forces me to confront the fact that I feel I am a valuable person because I take care of things, of people. I feel worthy of love or admiration because I give or instruct. Now I find that I simply don’t have that much to give because I’m sleeping half the day away, because I can’t get anywhere on my own time, because getting anywhere means that someone else has to be the giver, because I don’t know where I’m headed. Argh! I do not want to be pathetic, and I’m frustrated by my self-concept.  I completely understand why the elders who lose their mobility and abilities are so damned ornery or depressed. I really get it now, and I had no idea before. My grandmother's favorite saying in her last years was, "Getting old is not for sissies."

The last thing in the world I want to become is a pet, taken care of, directed by other’s abilities to meet my needs and to feel vulnerable to delays and constraints of scheduling and other obligations. I want to be fully independent, but I understand that this is foolishness because none of us is fully independent without paying the price of isolation. Therefore, my desire’s narrowed aperture has framed something poignantly important: I want to know that I am valuable and worthy of love even if I need…need anything at all…I want to know that needing others in my life is good and as the song goes, “lucky,” and I want to know that I won’t fall apart, and the world and all it offers won’t fall apart if I take a break.

People who need people are the luckiest people in the world? I want to know that.