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.