Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Letter to Myself

My mind and body are fighting a battle to see who wins. My mind wants me to write. My body doesn't.

I want to write about doing the right thing even if it has consequences that you don't like, that scare you. And how about sometimes if you love someone enough you'll do that thing for them even if it scares you. And how I never had anyone like that before. And how I couldn't decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing but finally decided it was the RIGHT thing, and that life isn't simple, so it was both good and bad. And then I decided I had too much black and white thinking. That if I could learn to hold two ideas like that in my head at one time - that it was good AND bad, that just maybe it won't be good in the way I wanted it to but it's still good and it's still right and it's not a tragedy if it doesn't go just like I planned - well, that would be a good thing.

I want to write about how sometimes the (in this sense for me mostly health related) consequences of something can seem overwhelming but that when you think about what matters in your life, what REALLY matters, can't I make some room to do something for someone who really matters even if I suffer for a little bit after it?

It's a question I haven't entirely answered because I am supremely bad at physical suffering. But if I can change my perception of the physical suffering to something more positive and accepting, then I'm certain I would suffer less.

I can't make any promises as to how or when though!

I want to tell myself that Redefine Success is the most important tenet on my list of Things I've Learned from the last few years. If I redefine what I am expecting of myself and my life at any given moment or time, then I can be happy with it or at least at peace with it and accept it. Especially if I know accepting something less than perfect at the present moment might lead to better things in the near future. In short, if I practice something called faith - which I have never been able to do. I don't even mean the religious kind, I mean the I'm Not Going to Die or Lose All My Marbles Anytime Soon kind of faith.

Let me know where they sell it, will ya?

Maybe if you have a purpose in your life big enough, meaningful enough, you can find a way to have that kind of faith. But that's another thing they're not selling at the five and dime. It's hard to find it.

But I have something may qualify, and I'm not sure how much longer it's going to be around. So it only seems right that I learn from it and enjoy it while I can.

Moving to South Portland has presented an interesting kind of paradox. While I certainly love, well, everything about it, without Marion it cannot be denied that there is something missing. And in an attempt to fill that something missing, and also because I just really love Portland and South Portland and every area adjacent to it, I have filled my time in the month since I moved here with far more activities than I ever engaged in in the three years previous.

I enjoy those activities, there's no doubt about it. But it is simply too much. It takes a toll on me. It makes me feel stressed out and tired, to the point where I am just lacking a sense of calmness and stability that I very much need because I'm not giving my nervous system enough time to recover before going off and doing something else that looks so SHINY and NEW and MUST HAVE.... or again, something rather plain but new to me because it's ALL RIGHT HERE AND ACCESSIBLE TO ME. That is, accessible to me if I only had a little more energy and stamina to engage in all the necessary mental and physical energy it requires.

Not to mention that as much as I love the scenic and predictable walk to Mill Creek, it is much longer than I'm used to walking to the bus. Then when I get to Portland, mostly because of the beautiful fall weather, I tend to walk around there a lot, and then sometimes we go to whole foods which is another 12 or so minutes each way, and walk back from the bus stop in South Portland, and it all just kind of adds up, you know? It's not just physical energy, of course. It's mental energy - being out in the world requires all kinds of sensory processing. Interacting with others as much as I enjoy it requires emotional energy. Navigating the environment taxes my nervous system even when it's fun (and let's face it, most things are not going to be 100% fun), because I am sensitive to being overstimulated.

No way would I ever want to give up on doing things, but I think I've got to do less of them before I drive myself crazy. I need my nervous system and mind to feel calm and relaxed and stable more often than it is now. I realize just moved need time to figure out a groove and all but yeah. This is me figuring it out.

In Falmouth I only went out 2 days a week and the other days pretty much did nothing but watch TV with Marion. Here I've been going out pretty much every other day and packing a much bigger wallop into what I do. Not enough time to recover.

So, I will have to be patient while I recover from what I did do today, which was totally pushing the envelope for me. It's not so much that I  enjoy resting - My mind begs to be occupied at all times. But I need to. So I need to find more occupying ways of resting. Like TV.... Blah. Or something. Thank God I CAN actually read and watch TV, knock and wood, because I didn't  always used to be able to do and I can't imagine what life would be like without these two amazing things. They are like vacations unto themselves. Knock on wood.

I need to quiet the voices that say a certain doom will befall me if I have XYZ symptoms. Quiet my amygdala. Tell it, hasn't everything worked out pretty well the last few years? Haven't I always gotten what I *needed* when I really needed it - maybe not always what I wanted every time, maybe waiting longer sometimes for some things than I would have liked, but what I NEEDED when it got to a point where I really needed? Yes. So, note to self, please learn to tolerate distress. It will be more temporary and transient than you know.  "Don't let the past tell us who we are not today" or whatever that CSN line is. Don't let the past dictate the present. Were there times I suffered in the past? Yes, enormously. Were there times that it seemed like the suffering would never end, that there was no way out, no solution? Certainly, more of it than I would care to remember. But has any of that happened in the last three years? No, no and no.

You could call it luck. Or you could call it increased coping skills. The retraining of the brain. Better stress tolerance skills. Better reframing skills. Better at putting things in perspective, better at changing negative energy to positive, better at connecting with others, better at dealing with stress. If I believe that I've changed enough to have the kind of life, the kind of success but most of all the stability that I've always craved.... then maybe I wouldn't worry so much.

You can't spend every day wondering if today is the day the figurative hurricane is going to hit again.
You can ,but if so you're just wrecking your life.
Spend your time looking for the sun instead.

So many things happened to my body, to my my mind, and because of it I was forced to go on quite a journey, across the country and back several times.

But like a kiln, I gained strength and precious, precious perspective from these experiences.
Illness taught me a new way of living that, when I was finally in a stable enough situation to appreciate the lesson, changed the way I lived and experienced my life for the better.
I still think of about things I learned, experiences I had that taught me something or the other in a various city here and there on an almost daily basis. I don't think of the bad. It's my body that remembers the bad. My mind remembers the good. Mostly.

I can't say I don't fear another figurative hurricane (illness). But I can say that to fear it every day, in every situation, (or at least the most challenging ones, I have gotten much better with a lot of the more routine ones), is pure madness and no way to live life.

I went far, far out of my comfort zone for a person I loved tonight. It's not something I intend to repeat anytime soon as it was just too much to do more than once. But doing it once? It was the right thing to do, and if I can use it to try to teach myself not to fear that hurricane so much...... Well, then all the better.

One moment at a time, one day a time, and focus on what you can do in THAT moment, not about the stormy weather that you're certain is to come later. Because you might just find that it doesn't. Maybe the anticipation IS the stormy weather, and you're creating it for yourself.

It's a scary thing to not worry (as if we have a choice), to relinquish control, to accept what may be. And there is no doubt it would take an enormous amount of practice if I was even able to take the first steps toward it. But I just don't want to be creating that stormy weather for myself, each and every time. So I'll see what I can do. To be mindful, to focus on the moment. It may drive me crazy trying, but I'll see what I can do.

"I beg you to have patience with the questions in your heart....because one day, without even realizing it, you will have lived your way into an answer."      


  1. Life's has their ups and downs, so enjoy it as it last

  2. What I meant is, enjoy life as you want and relax sometimes when things overwhelms you