01 Oct Easy for Me to Say
For the past several years, Shya and I have been working with individuals who are living with auto-immune diseases, and more recently, some who are experiencing long Covid. These conditions have made living a “normal” life impossible. Subject to fatigue, body aches and brain fog, it’s been easy to see these folks need to be kind to themselves – to rest as needed and not push to produce what they “think” they should be doing.
In other words, we’ve observed that the desire to produce often drives these folks to overextend and go past their current energy levels until they drain their reserves. We’ve seen, time-and-again, how challenging it’s been for them to not judge themselves on an outdated internal standard, even when loved ones are not judging them for how they are being and what they are doing or not doing.
Recently, I discovered that it’s one thing to observe, and another to experience it firsthand.
Three days after a visit to our local fishing river, where I sat on log keeping Shya company as he fished, he noticed a “scab” on the back of my thigh, which ultimately turned out to be a deer tick. As soon as I removed the tick, the site of the bite became infected. By the end of the day, I visited my doctor.
Diagnosis: Lyme disease.
Protocol: 2 weeks of antibiotics.
Since I caught the disease early and started antibiotics virtually immediately, I mistakenly thought there would be no further symptoms, especially since the bite area stopped being sensitive and healed rather quickly.
Wrong I was.
Within a day or two, I became fatigued. It was a low-level thing, just enough for me to think I was pretending. Then came the slight nausea, aches and brain fog. If I pushed myself, I quickly became exhausted. If Shya and I took a gentle walk outside, it cleared my head, which was a relief. But if I had energy one day, I couldn’t expect it the next. It required patience and being there to see what’s what, rather than driving myself forward in accordance with my preferences.
When my mother was alive and my father’s dementia had progressed far enough that she was not able to take care of him when he was ill, I wrote an article about “The Upright Zone”. This piece chronicled my experience of stepping into difficult circumstances as if they were my idea and how my body became upright in its bearing.
I have recently discovered an additional possibility – a state that is delicate and intimate. It’s one where I am at rest in my center and I am still – even when moving. This way of being allows for rest without the crushing weight of self-judgements. It’s respectful of my state without trying to preplan how I will be in an hour or a day or next week.
In the past, it’s been easy for me to observe my friends needing kindness and respite from their internal push to do more and be more. It was easy for me to say, “Be kind to yourself – rest.” It’s a whole other thing to do that for myself. And yet, my friends have led the way.
When I had Lyme disease, I was kind and respectful to my body’s fatigue and energy level and I found a state of grace. And now, I have another day-to-day challenge, one that takes place in times of health: will I be easy and kind to myself whenever I’m in need of rest, whatever the reason may be?
Author’s note: As a bonus, here is the link to The Upright Zone, the article mentioned above, first released publicly in May of 2019.