Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stretching My Heels

For me, giving up would be easy, just taking to my bed and not getting out of it unless absolutely necessary. I'd quickly become weaker and weaker and then I'd never leave my bed. And it would be understandable: I am on so much medication for so many different parts of this illness and now, with this second round of chemo, am so additionally knocked out and in so much more pain, getting out of bed is a chore. My chore.

Entering my bathroom requires a small step up - about two to two and one-half inches, it's an old apartment and the small strip of flooring at the doorway is the original marble so there must have always been a step up. It's the perfect place to stretch my heels.

I stand facing into the bathroom, my toes at the edge of the marble riser, my instep and heels hanging over the hallway flooring and, balancing myself by gently laying my palms on either side of the door frame, I lower my heels until they brush the floor, hold it for eight slow counts and then rise into relevé which I also hold for eight slow counts. Then I repeat the entire sequence another four times, take a break to take my Advair, and do a second set. My first trip to the bathroom becomes an opportunity to keep my heels and calves stretched and my feet strong.

Thus far, it doesn't ease the pain but it prevents the pain tight muscles and tendons would cause. And, it prevents me walking on my toes like a chicken - the chicken walk is most unattractive. It also breaks the pattern of getting out of bed only when absolutely necessary; it even seems to help me make my bed and treat the day as something I must live, in which I act, rather than something I must get through until it's time to take my night meds. It's a little piece of building a new life even when I don't have the strength or energy to think of what that life might be.

Thank God for all that dancing. It's now time for breakfast and I have not only said my prayers (just an Our Father and my usual talking to God but I'll writie about that later), I've stretched my heels and written a post. Not bad for an early morning's work.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nothing More Than I Can Imagine

When I was just a bit older than four and one-half my nanny abandoned me. She drove to a garage, took me inside, set me upon an old chair, removed the crucifix I wore around my neck, patted me on the head, told me to be ‘a brave little poppet’ and then left me there. I sat there letting my feet swing, the strong smell of gasoline in the air. Finally a man asked whose child I was. Another man answered that I belonged to the red-haired woman. But the red-haired woman was gone. I sat there letting my feet swing. The men talked. Finally, a man spoke to me, probably asked me something, I don’t know. All I recall are hot, salty tears and begging to go home. The man took me to his home; I lived there for just over eleven years.

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned to me his struggle with wild fantasies, told me that such are often feelings of self-loathing. I responded, “I know” in a non-committal, I hear what you are saying sort of way. I wanted to shout: “I know!” Because I do. Extremely well. I know wild, self-destructive fantasies that ooze self-loathing except in them, I’m perfectly happy to be hurt, to be abused. I even participate in my own abuse until my abuser loves me and abuses me happily ever after. The smell of gasoline haunts me these days.

Right now, I cannot see much of anything except what I can imagine for myself and that is ugly and full of self-loathing. It is a story that might have happened, has parts which came very close to happening, contains elements that actually have happened but is, in total, simply not reality. Regardless of how I have felt about myself, I know God has never abandoned me to the horrors of my imagination. This is a dark time for me. Most of my friends know it is a difficult time but very few understand that I simply want to give up. It isn’t one thing. It’s everything. It’s being ill. It’s chemo. It’s being entangled in the insane bureaucracy of a firm and an insurance company that stand between me and my own money. It’s the excruciating pain of having to ask friends to help. It’s a roommate who became a friend and then revealed herself to be a monster and left me responsible for over $3000 of her unpaid rent. It’s being unable to read for more than a few minutes. It’s being alone so much. It’s also being overwhelmed by the love and care my very dear friends shower upon me. I thought I would be stronger but I’m absolutely exhausted. I simply want to escape. But where would I go? To a place where there are no horrible fantasies? Where the whiff of gasoline doesn’t haunt me?

When I started this piece I thought I’d come to some great conclusion. But I also can’t write for very long these days. And I’ve spent some time scanning through some of my earlier posts on suffering so I know, whatever I feel about it, God has placed me here too weak even to wish I were stronger. I desperately want Him to come and get me. I have no idea what that means. So I’ll just stay here being a not so brave little poppet, just letting my feet swing. He has always come for me in the past. He won’t be stopped by even the most horrible fantasies of my limited imagination.