It happens every time. I get sick, I resist, I push, I over-do, then I feel worse. The same brain that has the knowledge; the wise advise of rest and self-care, runs at an amazing speed each time I lie down. Which makes me think I am not “really” sick – otherwise I wouldn’t be able to think so much! So once again, I get up and do something.
Years ago I felt sick all the time. Muscles ached, head hurt, thinking was impaired, vision was blurry and so on. none of this was due to an immune disorder or a tragic illness. The “syndrome” was HANGOVER. Whether the toxin was alcohol or drugs; late nights, lack of nutrition, being dehydrated resulted in my being impaired at all levels of my self. It was self-induced, but I was powerless over it. As long as I used drugs and alcohol I misused my body, mind and spirit. What I learned to do was to motor on in spite of what I was feeling. At times I pushed through to prove to someone who I wasn’t hung over and bone tired, gut wrenchingly ill, and totally spent. It was a part of my denial. “No, no really! I am fine! Just give me a minute.” and with a few quarts of water, a few turns in the toilet, and I would be emptied and ready to go.
Now, many moons later, each time I am ill I remember those feelings. I remember the feeling washed out and used up. Having similar feelings now initially hampers my ability to care for myself with care and compassion. Two things are going on.
ONE is that I know how to push myself beyond a reasonable limit. I can override feelings of exhaustion and feelings of discomfort. I can totally discount my own feelings. I had years of practice. TWO is that the memories of the past can sometimes invade and color the present. When I am ill I am in the throes of a full on HALTE meltdown. While I may not be physically hungry I am emotionally and energetically hungry. I need to mom myself but I seem to first reach out to others to be cared for. It isn’t always available; when it is available I often don’t know how to say “YES, thank you.” I am angry with myself and my body for being “victim” to the virus or the bug that wipes me out. I am, of course, tired. I don’t sleep well and I may not be able to nap and catch up (see paragraph #1.) I need to isolate, I don’t want to be with people and, in fact, I should avoid contaminating others, but I feel lonely even at home with my family. Being sick is like being in a bubble of self-pity or self-care. Of course the body is tired, and when you don’t sleep or are unable to nap, you add to the physical insult of being ill and in fact prevent yourself from getting well. My ego steps in the way with all kinds of messages from the past that manifest in shame and blame, or with expectations for the moment in the forms of shoulds. I can either go down the path of I SHOULD be able to … (fill in the blank with everything from “meet for coffee” to “do the laundry”) AND the opposing SHOULDs of rest, fluids, quiet, and so on. What a mess!
So what would happen if I were to stop, to rest, to drink tea, to say “no”, to be kind – as kind to myself as I would to a favorite friend? I would live a more authentic NOW, being the person I love and respect. Going back to bed!