The definition of sick is actually “feeling nauseous and wanting to vomit”
This week I was sick with a stomach flu. In these days of COVID we forget that we can still come down with a common flu. This brings up so much for me, literally! First you feel a quiver, a sensation that lets you know you are no longer in charge. And then, well, you know what happens next! My first “go to” was a bit of panic as I am not accustomed to living alone and I started to have a small asthma attack in the middle of everything! In the heat of my over dramatized reaction to the situation, I unlocked the front door in case I needed to call 911 (wouldn’t want them to crush the front door as I was gasping for my last breath!). Seriously, I did that. Then I laid awake all night, between episodes, thinking I had to be on watch as no one else was there to do it. Now, I understand that a lot of people live on their own and this is just the way it is. But it’s not something that I am familiar with and certainly brings attention to the loss of my loved one, my true caretaker. He would have been right there watching and offering help; making soup the next day. Yes, I was a lucky woman. I still have a lot of good fortune in my life however a beautiful nugget of fortune is truly gone. The illness has now upheaved and moved on, and I realize that I have crossed yet another hurdle and it seems I am still alive.
I was considering keeping a commitment that I had made (as I had received a negative COVID test) when a friend reminded me that I needed to take care of myself. That my immune system was depleted, and I needed to stay home for a few days to recover. In my last career, I had 7 years of perfect attendance, so self-care and recovery were not usually considered. Now I’m realizing it is not just “what I can do” as much as “what I should do”. These decisions should be supportive of my wellbeing as well as others.
So, it did turn out that friends and family brought me soup and medicine, checked on me regularly and gave me advice. And even though these efforts were not exactly the same as my partner would have offered, they were golden nuggets of their own. I was not alone. If I had asked any of them to come in the middle of the night, they would have.
If you don’t currently have a support circle of friends, then maybe it’s time to get one started. This outer circle of support will need a good foundation of your own self-care. If we can just see ourselves through our loved one’s caring eyes and connect with that inner love of our own, I think we’ll be ok.
In the book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, she quotes Krishnamurti “to pay attention means we care, which means we really love.”
I told my loved one that I loved him every single day, but now I’m feeling that I didn’t give him enough attention. Did I listen to every word of his stories; did I smile or look bored; did I go outside often enough to see the beautiful work he had done on the garden?
I was often so busy that I failed to stop and appreciate him and the lovely life that we shared.
The quote continues “By paying attention we let ourselves be touched by life, and our hearts become more open and engaged.” Of course! Why has it taken most of my life and the loss of my partner to absorb this lesson? Now my regret turns to disappointment in myself. So here we have yet another emotion added to the heap! How do I turn this realization into a forward progression rather than falling into the rabbit hole of regret?
Everyone wants to be seen and appreciated. I believe that this concept alone could soothe and heal most relationship issues. The most impactful people in my life were those who held a stillness in their gaze upon me. This stillness created an open channel for love and appreciation.
In our teacher training program, we have a session of acknowledgement called “Just like me” and in this session we sit for a moment with each co-student as the teacher reads a few lines starting with “just like me”. The final line reads “just like me this person in simply learning about life”.
In grief counseling you are told that the amount of time to process grief varies from person to person. Likewise, there is no time limit to learning about life. In fact, just accept that you are NOT going to get everything this time around, in this short life existence of ours.
Our whole existence revolves around learning about life. This life is our school, our university.
You don’t go to school because you already know everything, you go to learn, to expand your knowledge of this amazing universe.
The pain that surrounds the loss of a loved one is massive, yet within that experience exists a multitude of hurdles (big and small) that can progress us forward or push us back. With each hurdle we reach a new level of understanding ourselves and others. Can I be as accepting of the emotions that move me forward as well as those that push me back? Can I give myself time to level out this "sea" of knowledge in hopes of finding calm, soothing waters?
Do you have any regrets? Maybe you want to spend time with those thoughts and reveal the underlying grace that each of them holds.
Val Spies, Lotus Pond Yoga Studio owner and Yoga Teacher training director.