Sometimes it's so hard to share our little happinesses, isn't it? It should be a no brainer, if something brings us joy, then we would share that joy with others, and if something is heavy, we might reach out and ask for help carrying it day in and day out.
And yet, we don't. We carry our burdens alone and cease to reach out and celebrate the happy times together, especially when we're dealing with the burdens of chronic illness - whether mental or physical.
There's an iconic quote on the US version of the show, The Office, the character Dwight Schrute says he has found something used to treat "no regular illness like eczema or worms, a disease of the mind." His co-worker replies, "Dwight, the mind is part of the body."
That hit me so hard because I think we think of the body and mind as being somehow completely separate from each other, one certainly effecting the other, yes, but not being two aspects of the same thing; ourselves. Who we are is not a patchwork of mind, body, it is, as my favorite yoga instructor says, the body/mind. I would posit that it is even the body/spirit/mind, all part of the same complete thing which is of course the self. We are one thing made of many and when we neglect even one aspect of that self, the whole person suffers, we suffer. And so do the people around us.
This weekend I was honored to be physically able to be there to share the burden of loss with my family as we let go of someone we all love and loved greatly. One thing that illness takes away from us is the ability to be there physically in times of sadness or mourning, and that prevents us from being able to share or split that burden mentally and emotionally. This then just makes us suffer as whole people which degrades our physical health even further. It's a cycle that can go on and on until we see that it's not an arrow going from body to mind, and back around again, it's one complete body/mind and we must put ourselves in positions in our lives to feed and fulfill the needs of ourselves as whole people.
For me, fulfilling my needs as a whole person has taken so many things and I don't think I am alone. I began with physical therapy, then added meditation, yoga, writing, you name it, I've brought it into my life to speed my body's recovery. And yet, I was still lagging behind, not really making the kind of steps I desperately wanted to make, unable to move forward with my dreams of going back to work, becoming a mother, even creating more with this blog. It was all at a standstill until I realized that I needed to put my priorities into focus and take a hard look at whether what I said and felt were my main priorities were actually represented in where I was spending my time and indeed, spending my life.
There are two sayings that stuck with me in that process of reckoning:
"There's no such thing as being 'Too Busy,' there are only Priorities"
"Where you invest your love, you invest your life."
~Mumford & Sons
These two things guided me in assessing what was really missing in my recovery and in my life. I literally made a pie chart of the things that are important to me, the things that fulfill me, make me glad, and help me recover. And then I made another pie chart of how I spent my time on average each week.
One difference stuck out immediately and made me feel a little shocked. I had put family and time with the ones I love as a HUGE part of the pie in what matters to me and heals me...and yet spending time with family was almost non-existent in the chart of how I actually spent my time.
I had to ask myself why there was honestly such a difference and the answer was clear right away, since loosing a lot of the function in my left leg due to hardened blood clots closing off my femoral vein, and the daily issues with Ulcerative Colitis, it was physically extremely difficult for me to get to my family. I was making due with occasional phone calls and little presents sent in the mail. That's not true, lasting, loving, healing contact for me. It is and can be for many people, but not me. I need to see my family, to hug them, to hold hands and rock on a porch swing and watch the sun go down over the pines. I need to cover my niece in kisses all over her face and pat my grandpa on the back. I need to fall asleep talking to my little sister, our hands entwined over our heads on the couch as the television softly plays something we haven't been watching in hours.
I need that self actualization that comes from truly being there, in person. And I wasn't getting it. Neither was I able to accept the real help I needed, the largest group of loved ones who could offer help in my true recovery were hundreds of miles away from me.
In in the end, it took a huge leap of faith, three months of bunking at different houses with different extremely kind loved ones, being away from our pets, and having our things scattered all over a state and then divided in garages and storage units all over town, but we are here. And as a held the hand of an Auntie who held me as a child, as our tears for the passing of an uncle I loved and still look for in the crowds of our gathered family, I finally felt free. I finally breathed, not the measured breath of meditation (which I still use), but the deep sigh of coming home, of being home, of being complete again, those pieces of the pie clicked closer into place, and I began to see myself as well, body/mind/spirit. I will be well. All will be well.
Today I hope you get a chance to make a little evaluation of your priorities and see where there might be inconsistencies between what you aspire to be, what you see for your life, and what your days and weeks really look like. Then I hope you get to feel the truth, that all will be well. That you will be well.
Lots of Love,