There is no self-care without Love

grieving

Reggie showed up without his wife.

The wife was a short woman.  She had some practices that usually increased the space she occupied – the smell of tobacco, the size in her chair, the volume she laughed with, her large wiry curly bouffant, and her hope-filled aura. 
“Where’s your wife Reggie?” 

Reggie had sat down with his usual socially acceptable moderate expression. 

It was common for his wife to accompany him to my clinic and if she wasn’t there, it was only for purposes of work.  She prioritized him, it was clear.  However, her work was inconsistent, money was always tight, and she would most often have to travel when the opportunities arose.  Being a temp in nursing was like that.  Reggie was so proud of her and looked at her in that mix-matched role that any relationship between one person and another always is.  In Reggie’s case, sometimes she was his parent, lover, friend, enemy, caregiver, and now, what?

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know I love the concept of Time.  I fantasize a little about separating Time from space and yes, at some moments, think I am all that. (Wink.)  When I asked Reggie, “Where’s your wife?” I might have done it, though not pleasantly.  Something happened there that was inter-dimensional.  Because he was transformed.  His face didn’t melt or droop.  There wasn’t a process to it.  Rather he was sitting like a normal Reggie and then he was wasn’t.  Between normal and transformed, to me, reality changed.  The between was a crack that was a different reality.  A black space without Time.

Reggie cried,

“She left me. She left me.  I begged her not to, and she did.”

Reggie’s wife had done something personal.  She went and died. 

Even when Reggie stopped crying, he looked bewildered, raw and like the faucet was going to poor a lot more.  We did get to start talking a bit about how much his wife loved him.  We speculated about the love remaining after she died. 

“I wish I knew!  I wish I knew she was somewhere good and I wish I knew if she could see me.…” 

Reggie wished he could remain connected to the love. 

During our treatment together for over a decade, Reggie complied with our medical treatment in the context of that love.  Reggie honored his wife by taking care of himself.  He even lifted up his illnesses like an offering to her.  I was struck with the concern of what kind of treatment compliance Reggie would shift to if he thought he was living without love.  I was concerned that he would not value himself, including the respect he was able to show his illness without the company of his wife’s value and respect

The way that we honor those we love and those who love us, is by honoring our own selves.

It is intuitive in our nature to believe that we can’t live without love.  Where does love go when we die? 

This brings us to another premise in, “God and self-care,”  – there is no self-care without Love.

The argument psychiatry has with the concept of Love is that sensing it, knowing it, perceiving it, is all a part of our modular brain, therefore no more than grey matter.  Thus implied that it is diminished. 

Question:  Does it diminish Love for you, knowing that our perception of Love is as mapped out as that, even able to be man-handled, turned on or off by neuronal signals? 

Please tell us your thoughts.  Keep on.

Self-care Tip:  Find Love for self-care.

Love comes out of that?!

hope

Hello Friends.

I write to you so many times “in my mind,” which makes me a great writer! Wink.  But even there, I am grateful to have you to write to.

I just got done watching, Fault in Our Stars, with our local hospice team and, oh my word!  I had to breathe through it.  I was terrified I would lose it several times there.  Not being one of those damsels who cries pretty, I was seriously grateful to be sitting in darkness.

So where have I been?  Trying to figure out this friend to yourself thing.  Still.

I had one of my favorite discussions with a patient the other day on where and why good comes out of bad.  Do I love this conversation because it is about an epic force, an energy and a Truth that wins and kicks bad stuff, like, fungus armpits, dead children, divorce, broken friendships, finding yourself alone in a huge space, depression and a brain that you’d rather not be living?  Do I love this discussion because I feel so freaking right?  I do.  Do l love it because I need to participate in it one more time, now, and now?

Probably.

I’m hoping I’m not right though.  I’m pretty sure that even these eyes see dimly and the Truth is even better.  I’ve been told I don’t know it all.

The chat goes something like this,

(Context is status post some real, personal, bleak disclosure.  I’m facing them, and sometimes they look at me.  I sit in an erect chair with a lap desk and laptop computer between us.  Just enough.  Sometimes my service dog, Timothy is present.

One of us inevitably brings up a curving effort toward hope.  Maybe,)

…Love is stronger.

Yeah…

But I don’t know if there is a question mark or a period at the end.  It sits there in the room with us, like it is a squirrel scratching at its whiskers.  It can go in different directions.

Where would it go for you?

Does Love bring good out of bad as if it needs the bad, like dirt around its roots?  Does Love turn the bad into fertilizer, and grow into some apple tree?  We know Love is stronger than bad.  We know Love wins.  But we think, do I have to be loved like this?!  Rather not.

Tevye, the milkman in Fiddler on The Roof, said this view well,

  • [to God] I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?

That is a pretty rough idea of Love.

Love is and Love brings good out of us in any context because where Love is, there it is. Think about presence.  Honest self-awareness.  When you found it was more important to still be able to walk than care if your t-shirt was inside out.  Love is more true than that.  It is more true than looking into her eyes, than hot water over skin.  Love is.

As Green says in the voice of Hazel Grace, “I hope this enough for you.  This is your life. And I love you.”

Question:  What is stronger in your life?  Why?  What happened to disclose such honesty?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Love wins, even for you.  Keep on.

Sending a message to the hope out there, to the love I know exists, to the friend who knows me, the place I can always call part home, part critique, part play-fellow, counselor, walking stick.  Hello.

Get You Some Love

Cemetary

Cemetary (Photo credit: Vu Bui)

The ocean is like an untended cemetery, compared to my youth dives, with shoots of life breaking up the stone and dead coral.  A little family of forceps butterfly fish flutter around the tips of something brown.  I honk sounds through the water to my kids when I spy a trumpet fish, a big one, with some neon lighting up the gray long body.  My kids are so energized.

There are three turtles and I remember I have never swum with turtles before.  “Hey.  That’s cool,” I think.  I try to reconcile the turtles with the changes from when I snorkeled and dove reefs years ago, “Positive?  Negative?”  Something there in me wants to feed this info through my inner hope-machine to convince my other that when my kids swim another future day, the ocean will not be dead.  Foreboding.

I am starting to get disoriented by this and surface to get a grip. My husband pops up and I whisper to him, so our kids do not overhear and lose their energy to my negativity, “It’s like a tomb, Honey!  I can hardly stand it!”  And like a compass, he points to a better direction.  “It’s fine, Sana.  It is what it is.”  Interpretation can distort experience.

Thanks to husband and the reconnection of interpretation with presence, under water, I see this moment, this day, in the parrot fish, the coronets, and the puffers. And I, with more gravity, am able to enjoy what Love is giving now.  A solemn gift.  More informed, my appreciation is deeper and I can receive.

Receiving Love is not as easy as it sounds.  It is the work of a moment.  It is the work of a lifetime.  I am a spoiler, unable to love myself, unless I am able to receive Love from outside of myself and connect with it, in my pathway of Me-to-Me.

I am just starting to get this and am eager to understand and own more, because, this has been amazing.  This is something like how it goes so far; tense up, maybe angry Me, (reason or no reason,) pause, look, pray for it, pause, acknowledge, let it do its thing on Me. Start over. Again. Again.

In we who suffer brain illness, we who suffer cancer, we who are in the dying stage of life, in we who, we, we are in the right place to do this.  This is just where we need to be to receive Love.

Illness does not keep us from the ability to receive Love.  Poverty does not.  Dead coral and loss do not.  Nothing can.

Everything can be used by Love to communicate to us.  Illness can.  Poverty, dying, loss can.  Anything can be used to bring into our circle of Me-to-Me, Love.  Love is now.

I am glad, in age, that I am increasingly aware of the changeability inherent in everything, everything, positive, negative, everything.  This is one more way I am able to receive Love.  Age.

Being able to receive Love requires the process of changing.  It is not stagnant, stationary, unaging.  As far as we are able to understand, it is not.  We are creatures of dimension, creatures of space and time and until we are further created to receive otherwise, this is.

Question:  how do you increase your reception of Love?  How do you receive Love?  How does this affect your friendship with yourself.  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Increase your Love-reception.

Conditional Love With Me

frayed rope

We have a tenuous relationship with ourselves.  Very conditional, as if we were in a constant state of probation. Have you noticed?  Conditional love: part of the human condition.

I was reading the The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel, by Helene Wecker, and found myself getting into her golem-philosophy, that went something like this,

Since so many of us have it, can’t you just say it is the way things are, and not about freedom or fairness?

Wecker in such eloquence ironically describes the human condition from the story of two inhuman beings.

The New York Times, , describes it as,

When they are later confronted by the evil power who controls their fates, they discover that the ultimate expression of free will may lie in the embrace of limitations.

In considering our limitations in loving our own self, this idea can be useful to come to terms with the day in and out internal conflict of loving what is imperfect and distasteful, with what we would otherwise rather not identify with, and with the acts of friendship toward this seemingly inhuman part of our selves.  In embracing our limitations, we may find less conflict in loving Me, less conditioning, or perhaps a shorter probation each day.  We may experience the probation differently, Chava, The Golem, when we say, “It just is this way with all of us.  I have the community of humanity.

Getting into the space of where our “tenuous bond” between what we love and would otherwise not love about ME, in fact diminishes the frailty and increases the strength in our personal journey.  Rather than putting us into further danger of internal conflict and self-loathing, it allows us to experience what will happen from and in the company of the tension.

More specifically, in brain health, getting into the space of our conditional love for our self, allows us to do things like seek medical treatment when needed, ally with help, with medical treatments that once repulsed us, with something as formulated as putting a pill in our mouth seven days a week indefinitely.  Or another treatment, such as ECT.

We are conditional with ourselves.  It is part of our human condition.  That is pretty close to, “Normal.”

Question: How often are you aware of your own difficulty loving yourself, your Me?  What improves this?  Why does difficulty with loving Me recur and recur without end?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Get into the tenuous space between the “good and bad” of Me where you are normal.

 

Getting Older and Getting Born

Sana_Set09_LeoChaves_032

Sana_Set09_LeoChaves_032 (Photo credit: LeoChaves)

Turned another year over. Forty one now. Sometimes I already feel like there is a toe tag on me. Other times I ride the consciousness of now and innocence, as if I have forever to do whatever it is I am living for. As if fear did not pulse around me, as if life held no shame, then I carry my 41 years as lightly as a daughter spatters kissies over her mother’s arms.

Getting older is all the hype now. I was not alive 100 years ago but I wonder if 40 was the “new sexy” then. Gwyneth Paltrow is lovely. Me and Gwyneth. We have so much in common.

Huffington Post featured 30 Celebs Who Are Aging Gracefully. Tina Turner, Sting, Sigourney Weaver, the list is full of real people sharing our life-space. Remember Working Girl? Boom.

I look at my parents, friends, patients, myself, strangers on the street and stories that symbolize a person’s life lived. I look and I think of someone who climbs Everest. I think of frostbite. I think of a long long journey. I think of death.

The day before my birthday, the excitement made waiting too much to endure. A small chocolate bar, a handmade card with misspelled words and two tightly folded dollar bills disregarded the calendar date. Neatly arranged on my night table, I was told by their giggling toe-toe hopping agents, “Happy Birthday tomorrow, Mommy! I’m so glad you were born!”

And I was born again. Just like that. Love labor.

Some women have birth the way it is supposed to happen and others suffer. After my third child, my OB-Gyn, I love that woman, told me with nothing more than fatigue and honesty, “Sana, you should probably stop at three. Pregnancy and delivery is just not easy for you.” My pregnancies and deliveries were not that easy for her either.

Our rebirths also come easy and come hard. We almost die. We cruise through as if we were made for it. “She was made to have babies!” (Dodge the loogie I cannot help but hurl. Damn those women with baby-making bodies!)

I know we think things like this about people without brain illness, (if they even exists.) Maybe we think they do not have the suffering we do. Maybe we think we have it worse. We think at least we are misunderstood, when we hear,

“Get over it!”

“Just calm down!”

“Would you relax?!”

Breath. Yummy. How we love that. The list of these is longer than the path up Everest. And so helpful. Who has actually calmed down when told? Notice the exclamation points. Exclamation points symbolize emotion, in case the mountaineering porters saying the helpful emotion-directives did not know.

During our long long or short journeys we get to be born once, twice, forty-one, or the last time, because of Love. We do not get a Love that is measurable liquid or linear, like Time. Love is not healthy or unhealthy. It does not curl into our DNA, and is not dispensed by privilege. Nor a jury of Sherpas. Calm down.

Love is. Love is, and Love offers us a newness over and over and over and over because.

We have different birthing experiences, but I am glad you were born. You are loved.

Self-Care Tip:  Allow Love to bring you new beginnings.

Questions:  How has birthing gone for you?  What have been some of the new beginnings you knew Love brought you.  Please tell us your story.

Believe And Pursue Magic

Heart beat

Image via Wikipedia

Believe and pursue Magic.

Eternity frightens me.  When I go to see what stone is in my shoe, that fear, I find the absence of lines.  I am afraid of living without boundaries, without the beginnings and endings that bring so much quality to our suffering lives.

Time is a line that comforts me.  It gives form to my experiences.  However, to give eternity a “go” means to, in this dimension, allow myself that a (possibly) vacuous shapeless Me will still be a Me that I can live with.  It is to believe and pursue Magic.

Today while reading The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, I tensed over the beauty of it. What a mastery of language the author had.  How I wish to have enough time to carve a work like that out of my life.  But the awareness of what I have done, what I have already chosen to spend my life on, scolds me.  My thoughts are slower than they were.  I am half used up.  My time is parceled and I know that if it happens, it won’t be enough to satisfy me.  My container will seal closed.

מנא ,מנא, תקל, ופרסין

Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin

Daniel at Belshazzar’s Feast

I never watched much TV but I remember a commercial about Tupperware.  The lid coming down on it and the corner lifting just enough to burp out the last bit of air, sealing it’s freshness.  I feel a lid closing.

My daughter, six years old has taken to grabbing my head and pressing my ear against her chest.

What do you hear, Mommy? 

Spoiled by medicine, I stupidly answer, 

Lub-dub, lub-dub.

Now my turn, she says.

I feel the pressure as she tries to hear.

Do you know what Love does?  Our lives are that something-of-value enclosed in plastic Tupperware – or Time you could say.

Our “Me,” surrounded by what seems to us undegradable Time, like plastic, comes down in waves of sunlight.  Layering us.  Containing us the moment we are conceived.  We walk the line of life toward the inevitable.

A Toad, can die of Light –
Death is the Common Right
Of Toads and Men –
Of Earl and Midge
The privilege –
Why swagger, then?
The Gnat’s supremacy is large as Thine –

  –Emily Dickinson.

But my daughter is teaching me that all that I know, my perceived reality, is just happening inside that Tupperware.  And because of Love, this other “inevitable” becomes apparent.  Me connected to Love with no lines.  Magic.

Suddenly time folds and I am a little girl myself, riding bike like this,

Look!  No hands!

Love is Time-corrosive, I’ve come to understand.  The particles lift off of me and I am in that space that I started out by saying I feared.

The sound my daughter is looking for is the sound of Love.  Something that is stronger than what separates us.  And although it scares me still, I can now believe and pursue Magic.  I know I can trust that even without Time, the Me that brings me pleasure in part because of the boundaries that contain it, will bring me pleasure even when Time is gone.  I can trust Love.  Intentionally being held by Love, I can say with more confidence than before to my girl, I will never leave you.  Because of Love.

My ear against my daughter’s drumming heart, I answered,

I-love-you, I-love-you, –

…Finally.  Took you long enough. –  She didn’t say it.  She’s too good of a teacher to have to.

I’m less afraid.  And I like myself better believing in magic.  And I’m less hurried.

Question:  What would connect you if there were no Time?  How does that affect your friendship with yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care:  Believe and pursue Magic.

I Am Beloved

I’ve been liebstered by the multitalented comic artist, blogger, critique and gamer and all around great quacking Duck.

The Duck of Indeed The Duck of Indeed has been a friend of ours this past year on FriendtoYourself.com and gives this honor, beloved, just when it seems love is just what I was thinking life was about.  How indeed can I or you connect with our own personal journey without love.  How do we find the strength to fight when we lack that for inspiration.  Fighting for self-care is improved upon with the development of our clarity that we are lovable and beloved.  Thank you Duck.  We will press on together.

The rules of the Liebster Blog award are that if you receive the award, not only do you have less than 200 followers, but is designed because someone believes that you should have more.  Isn’t Duck a sweetie?  That, and, you should link back to the blogger that nominated you (yours truly) and nominate five more blogs.  Let the nominees know of course that you nominated them.

(My friends, I have no idea how many blog subscribers you have! but, however many, you should have more!)

  1. The only Cin by Cindy Taylor  
  2. Clarbojahn’s Blog by Clar Bowman-Jahn
  3. The Water Witch’s Daughter On The Journey With SuziCate 
  4.  bridgesburning by Chris King
  5. Learning to be still  by Char48